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December 14th, 2013
08:30 PM ET

Pope: Marxist ideology is 'wrong'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– Pope Francis responded to critics who call his stance on capitalism Marxist, saying in a new interview that the political and economic philosophy is flat "wrong."

"Marxist ideology is wrong," the Pope told the Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview published on Saturday. "But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

Earlier this month, the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh blasted the pontiff, calling his latest major writing, an apostolic exhortation called Evangelii Gaudium, "pure Marxism."

"It's sad because this Pope makes it very clear he doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth," Limbaugh said.

READ MORE: Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

Pope Francis told La Stampa that, “there is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church.” The 50,000-word statement calls for church reform and castigates elements of modern capitalism.

"I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on," the Pope said of Evangelii Gaudium.

Francis - the first pope ever to hail from Latin America, where he worked on behalf of the poor in his native Argentina - warned in "Evangelii" that the "idolatry of money" would lead to a "new tyranny."

The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

"The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the 'trickle-down theories,' which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world," the Pope said in the new interview on Saturday.

"The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.”

The Pope's critique of capitalism thrilled many liberal Catholics, who have long called on church leaders to spend more time and energy on protecting the poor from economic inequalities.

READ MORE: Pope Francis: No more business as usual

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (1,371 Responses)
  1. tony

    For small government and unrestrained capitalism, just look up the "middle ages". The king at the top, the few landed nobility owning everything and the owned serfs doing all the labor and agriculture.

    Somethjing Paul Ryan (and Ayn Rand) doesn't want you to be taught and remember.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • supercapitalisticexpialidocious

      Actually, true capitalism inherently requires certain conditions, such as property rights, due process of law, etc. These conditions were not present in Europe during the middle ages.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  2. Ken

    "The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger "

    No,no,no! There is no magic involved. Those at the top have construction crews (lawyers and politicians) working around the clock to expand the glass, thus keeping any water from spilling over. Magic .. sheesh!

    You see, the Pope is right. Trickle-down theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power." But the church already knows that man can be weak, will give in to temptation, and will sin. Thus those with economic power will do what they can to retain and keep all of that power that they can. That is the nature of mankind. And we see this playing out in Western economies every day. The amount of wealth held by those in the top couple percentile keeps increasing compared to everyone else. On the other side, the Pope also appears to recognize Maxist/Socialist ideologies as wrong.

    SO .. pure capitalism with trickle down doesn't work, and Marxist/Socialist doesn't work. It would appear the best path may be something between the two spectrums, something in the center, a more moderate / centrist approach. To bad we do not have any politicians pushing such ideas in DC.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  3. Guest

    Any time you advocate gov't control, that is certainly Marxist/communist thought.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Akira

      Is that what the Pope was doing?

      December 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • OO OO

        what do u have to say about the snake? o. that's right. nothing

        December 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • OO OO

        what do u have to say about snake? o. that's right. nothing

        December 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
      • OO OO

        what do u have to say about snake? nothing

        December 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
      • OO OO

        what about snake? nothing

        December 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • OO OO

        son of sam?

        December 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • OO OO

        sam? not a word?

        December 15, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
      • OO OO

        sam

        December 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Emma Goldman

      I don't see how the two are related but, okay, you are saying that Jesus is pro NRA?

      December 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • Carl Christopherson

        If you cannot defend your right to protect yourself and your family, you are as weak as the beast being led to slaughter. Jesus did NOT advocate a parallel to the NRA, but that does not mean he meant for mankind to be martyrs to their fellow man just for the sake of being martyrs. Likewise he would be upturning the federal reserve (money changers) without any second thoughts.

        December 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • MarcusInMN

      "Any time you advocate gov't control, that is certainly Marxist/communist thought." That is absurd. So you think any kind of regulation is Marxism? Traffic rules? Sales tax? Building codes? Highway construction? You anti-government types need to get your noses out of Atlas Shrugged and get out of your parents' basements for a while to experience the real world. It includes a lot more gray areas than you seem to acknowledge.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • Julia Rutherford

        Traffic rules and building codes are not government control over individual liberty, those are practices accepted by society to facilitate liberty. Government enforces those accepted norms because that's what government is supposed to do, that and that alone. Government is NOT supposed to steal from us, tell us what health care to get, tell us how to educate our children or what to believe. Marxism is all about control over our lives.

        December 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • marsilius

          In actual fact, government is indeed *supposed* to rectify extreme inequities of wealth, along with doing other things, in the territory over which it governs. When taxation is done by a legitimate government, in accordance with its legitimate processes, the taxation has absolutely nothing in common with "stealing," contrary to what you seem to say. When legitimately legislated tax-based government programs attempt to assist the poor, and the government is legitimate, there is surely nothing illegitimate about the programs. This is part of exactly what government is supposed to do.

          December 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Julia Rutherford

      Agreed that government control is by nature Marxist ideology. The revisionists of the left love to suggest that Jesus was a socialist, but if you read scripture, the truth is that the path to Christ is through individual redemption, not through communist society. To find Christ and peace we must save ourselves through a direct relationship with Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • Emma Goldman

        Matthew 19:21
        21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

        December 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
      • Emma Goldman

        Galatians 6:2
        2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

        December 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • Emma Goldman

        Acts 4:32-35
        English Standard Version (ESV)
        They Had Everything in Common

        32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

        December 15, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  4. just wondering

    Replying to Hypocrites.... a waste of time

    December 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  5. JoeCool

    Rush apparently lives rent-free in more liberal’s heads than in conservative’s heads. You all are the only ones talking about him.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Akira

      It's always easier to talk sbout the blatent crazy.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  6. HotAirAce

    Probably not a Marxist but certainly a protector of criminals.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  7. oo oo

    This guy is absolutely correct. The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. He is incorrect when he denies the value of free markets. The poor in the u.s. r kings compared to the poor in repressed, controlled economies.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Emma Goldman

      HA! How much time have you spent in the ghettos or on the reservation or with the poverty stricken ANYWHERE??

      December 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
      • oo oo

        U in Barbados?

        December 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
      • Eric

        Who are the "poor" in the USA:

        80% have air conditioning. In 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

        92 percent of poor households have a microwave.

        Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks.

        Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.

        Two-thirds have at least one DVD player

        Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers.

        More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.

        43 percent have Internet access.

        One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD TV.

        One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo.

        96% of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food.

        82% of poor adults reported never being hungry at any time in the prior year due to lack of money for food.

        42% of poor households actually own their own homes.

        The average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France, or the United Kingdom.

        In 35 states Welfare pays more than a minimum wage job, and in 13 states it pays more than $15 per hour.

        http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/09/understanding-poverty-in-the-united-states-surprising-facts-about-americas-poor

        http://www.cato.org/publications/white-paper/work-versus-welfare-trade

        December 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • madrogio

          Yes, leave it to the libertarians to provide an unbiased analysis! The "poor" people you are describing are what used to be known as the middle class. I don't know where you are living, but the poor I am familiar with live under bridges and in parks, and they have 100% air conditioning. And if they never go hungry, it's because someone shows them where the food bank is or they can bum a buck from a person who isn't clueless or afraid to help a dirty, pathetic fellow human being. You get out much?

          December 16, 2013 at 9:38 am |
        • Bozo

          The poor also have a fleet of yachts off the east and west coast of the US, so when the "crap" finally goes down, they can run and take refuge on them. Else they would be had for lunch.

          December 16, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      I have been all over. And while the poor here are not as bad off as in some places they are also not as well off as others. I would not say they are like kings.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • tony

      For small government and unrestrained capitalism, just look up the "middle ages". The king at the top, the few landed nobility owning everything and the owned serfs doing all the labor and agriculture.

      Somethjing Paul Ryan (and Ann Raynd) doesn't want you to be taught and remember.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Anonymous

      He doesn't deny the value of free markets, but says it's not helping the poverty stricken in it's 'the cup (barrier that keeps money for higher classes) gets larger to save more for the rich' function. He's basically saying the money's not being given to those who don't have enough.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • MarcusInMN

      He DIDN'T deny the value of free markets. He just rejected the religious affection that conservatives have for laissez-faire markets.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  8. s schultz

    Limbaugh knows he on the wrong side and he can't win on the merits of his philosophy so all he can do is attack the Pope's character. Bless Pope Francis.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • oo oo

      He would love to receive cash donations from the old boy

      December 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  9. Kenny

    Sorry to hear the pope responded at all to the Great Bloviator..what a god forsaken piece of trash...

    December 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Emma Goldman

      The Pope only responded to a reporter who asked him the question.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • Emma Goldman

        However, 10 to 1 odds that Limbaugh will claim the Pope was responding directly to him.

        December 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • mikeinthevine

          Chances are Limbaugh will say the Pope answers to him. Limbaugh thinks he's God!

          December 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  10. manfromv

    Pope Francis is a good man. His heart is in the right place, he cares for the poor and average person. He also cares for inequality in this world. Capitalism is a very technical and complex subject. One should not try to link capitalism and inequality without a good understanding of all the technical aspects of the subject.

    If one ask 100 economists what causes the recent recession, the current inequality, you will get 100 slightly different answers. There is no consensus on this subject yet. The Pope is a very influential person, what he says is very important. Economics is not his expertise and I hope he should refrain from making comments on economics especially political economic. He should concentrate on how to look after the poor and show us how to be a better person.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      It is how we handle the economy that determines if we are good people or not. And as you stated not even economists know what they are talking about anyways. So if economists can be Austrian or Keynesian then why should we listen to them?

      December 15, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
      • oo oo

        Lamb of Dog
        It is how we handle the economy that determines if we are good people or not. And as you stated not even economists know what they are talking about anyways. So if economists can be Austrian or Keynesian then why should we listen to them?

        how we handle our personal finances reflects our hearts

        December 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • scars

      So, he should not comment on any types of political systems - even those where human rights abuses are rampant? Or should he only keep his mouth shut about the US in particular? He is not there to endorse a particular political ideology but there is nothing wrong with him pointing out the flaws - as it pertains to Christian faith - with any political or monetary system. That is his very much part of his job. The problem is that most Christians who are very much attached to the material things of this world don't like being reminded of what Christianity teaches us regarding storing up treasures in this life ...

      December 15, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Emma Goldman

      The Pope shouldn't make comments about economics but he should concentrate on how to look after the poor? Uh.... .?? I don't know how to respond to that but Pope Francis' educational level gives him much more standing to speak on economics AND how it relates to poverty than you have in telling the Pope what he should be doing!!

      December 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Allen Gingrich

      Most economists will agree that trickle-down economics does two things: they help the rich get richer, and the poor get a little richer (for a short time), then the facade finally fades and the poor continue getting poorer.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Edwin

      Capitalism in General is not the issue
      – the problem is the incredible income inequity which is growing worse.

      It is also worth noting that the U.S. in particular does not really have a capitalist economy, since most laws are written by lobbyists for the various corporations (such as laws giving tax breaks for drilling for tar sands).

      December 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  11. BigBankTheory

    It's funny to think that Christians have aleader that believes like Communists.. I always thought they were more like Nazis, their ideological leader was Hitler.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Jose

      Ain't you a great person thinking 1.2 billion Catholics are Nazis. I suggest you read more, anything really, and try to think every so often. Give it a try, you will be amazed and what thinking can do to you.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
      • Emma Goldman

        BigBank Theory: Jose is right, only half of the "Catholics" are Nazis; the other half are decent people.

        December 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  12. Flappy

    It's sad because Limbaugh makes it very clear he doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      I disagree its obvious that the fat hypocrite slob understands exactly what he is doing.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  13. Jon

    I have a lot more respect for the Pope than I do a hypocritical drug addict.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  14. dan

    I don't see why he has to defend himself. Maybe Marx was a closet Christian – he cared about the poor. Considering the notion of curbing corruption and greed is as old as before Jesus, and reiterated by Jesus himself, the assertion is laughable.

    There are plenty of treatises on British and American capitalism being more predatory than European capitalism, also on Asian and Indian capitalism being exploitative – I think that the US is way too much run by values of greed and making a profit at any cost, no matter who gets hurt – check out our recent financial crisis and the number of people now without homes, with rentals going up to gauge the new rental market, which the banks created out of selling the foreclosed homes to investors – just a recent example. So now I'm a marxist. Labelling and defaming people is one way of propagandizIng your own point of view as legitimate.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  15. John Romanoski

    I do not believe Pope Francis is a Marxsit, The pope is following the teachings of Christ. What teachings does Russ Limbaugh
    follow?

    December 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      The teachings of the 1%.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • s schultz

      there is nothing wrong with market economics. What we have today is twisted market economics that does not allocate income efficiently, if it did we wouldn't have so many poor. Thank you Pope Francis for taking a stand.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  16. Lamb of Dog

    I am surprised Rush didn't play the old Hitler card.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  17. theoriginaljames

    I am no fan of Catholicism, nor or the right wing, and they historically have been bedfellows. But Limbaugh is an ignorant clod who deserves no response from the Pope. It was too eloquent for the junk yard Limbaugh.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  18. Geo Bruno

    When does R mention that those Marxist socialist countries have a much lower infant mortality rate than our #34 and why

    December 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  19. Peyamb

    Why does the media continue to give any voice to Rush Limbaugh? He is so irrelevant today. A sliver of conservatives (old white guys) listen to his radio show; mostly because radio is dead with younger people. So why give him any attention? His advertisers have left him in droves. I wish the media would do the same. This article would have been better without mentioning his name.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Capitalidea

      You would have a much better insight to the political issues of the day if you actually listened to what Limbaugh has to say. The Pope is obviously not well versed in this subject, just as most liberals are not. If they were, they would not be liberals. For instance, if you compare countries with the least amount of government interference, you will find poverty rates are lower than those of big governments and their policies on redistributing the wealth. The greatest poverty can be found in Africa and South America, where the governments are typically dictatorships that run opposite to free market principles. The U.S. is by far, the greatest contributor to charities, and the Church gets about 60% of all of its revenue from U.S. Catholic contributions. The Pope condemns countries without any formal controls, yet the U.S. Federal Register has 60,000 pages of regulations, larger than the 73 books of the Bible.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.