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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. Yago

    "When I feed the Poor, they call me a Saint, when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a Communist." Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara

    December 15, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  2. climatelurker

    The pope does not have to respond to a talking head like Rush Limbaugh at all. End of story.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  3. OrygunDuck

    Seems that Jesus was sort of left wing. He had his conflicts with the wealthy of his days. Most people got rich by ripping off the poor, and so it goes today. Not much has changed.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Mosihasteen

      So the rich get that way by rippiing off the poor? Man, your an ignorant, jealous schmuck.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
      • hemiola

        Hmmm..2% of the American population controls 98% of the wealth....I can say without reservation, you're an IGNORANT schumck!!!!

        December 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  4. Jake H

    Pretty common tactic by conservatives... Someone doesn't agree with you? Call them a big word that you don't understand. Marxist, Communist, Socialist.

    Doesn't matter, you can even call them multiple things, even if they contradict. As long as it's a big word and it sounds evil.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  5. haddock

    Clearly Pope Francis is not the one who "doesn't know what he is talking about" here. The fact is that the "me first" right is upset that a true Christian is calling out their self-serving, bogus piety for what it is- an unsavory slurry of bigotry and greed.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  6. steve-0

    Jesus was all about the dollars. He had a huge side business with the lepers–bringing them merchandise at a huge mark up. His troubles with the Romans started when they regulated his business which was dealing with toxic residue from fishing sites. The Jews hated him because he was selling weapons to anyone with the money to buy one.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  7. EighteenCharacters

    And so the GOP tactic of the "Ridiculous Response" works again. Instead of talking about the pope's overall message of income inequality and the social consequences that go along with it, we're talking about whether or not the label of "Marxist" applies to the pope himself. The conversation switches from the many to the one.

    And it works, every time. Someone tries to affect positive change, the GOP fears a potential loss of profit from that social change, they retaliate with something completely out of context, and the original conversation disappears into a mist of misinformation and fear-mongering. They do it so well.

    And in the end, nothing changes for society as a whole - but the change the GOP implements that continues the movement toward "unfettered capitalism" are all done in very quiet rooms, and are done out of the public eye for the most part. Rush is correct on one point: capitalism without boundaries is not something that exists in this nation. Not yet. It's up to us to make sure it never happens.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • madrogio

      Argumentum ad hominem. Rush can't argue about ideas, since he is a brainless shill. Attack people instead, since they have obvious flaws; something he is so PERSONALLY familiar with. His audience? DITTO.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  8. Barry

    I'm sorry he felt the need to dignify these greedy, evil individuals and their asinine comments with his attention. Francis, pay no attention to the detractors. Just keep doing what you're doing.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • igaftr

      the continuing cover up of child abusers, and those who continue to protect them?

      December 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  9. Abraham Yeshuratnam

    There is nothing to be ashamed of being a Marxist, for Marx got his ideas from Jesus. Jesus attacked priests, capitalists and corrupt rulers in all his speeches. Marx probably would have got ideas for revolutionary socialism from the bold act of Jesus in driving out black marketeers and big business from the Temple premises. The Bible says that Jesus entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers' tables and the seats of those who sold the doves. If Jesus came now into many parts of his visible church, how many secret evils he would discover and cleanse! And how many things daily practiced under the cloak of religion, would he show to be more suitable to a den of thieves than to a house of prayer! In Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov, a bishop wants to arrest Jesus for interfering in his nefarious activities. Pope Francis should boldly put into action Christian Marxism. If he fails, Jesus wouldn't recognize him at the time of Last Judgment.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • pbernasc

      Marx was wrong in so many aspects, prove is he failure of all the attempts at making his idea real ... poverty, abuse, violence etc
      and the pope is not a Marxist he is just a real Christian
      now, hat Christianity is not supposed to be about uncontrolled capitalistic power, we all know that, just don't ask that to any GOP or TEA party politician or pundit .. cause a honest Christian Pope is the first thing they do not want

      December 15, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • TimG

      You are kidding right? Marx's belief system had led to the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people over the last 100 years. Not something Jesus approves of or condones.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
      • Tim

        The problem with Marxist politics is, as practiced, politics is mistaken for religion - with all its fanatical absolutism. You can see a (albeit smaller) mirror image of this in laissez-faire capitalism. Both are a pox on human society, on reason, on virtue.

        December 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  10. Kill_Limbaugh

    Any time someone in a leadership position works for the benefit of the general populous some assssshole like Limbaugh casts them as a Socialist, Marxist, Communist, etc etc. It's about time people recognized who the real enemy is and stopped fearing labels. When someone puts a bullet in Limbaugh's head I will head to my local bar and buy a round of drinks for all. Why ? I guess I'm a socialist, marxist, communist that likes liquor more than I like Limbaugh.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  11. RITA

    OF COURSE YOU ARE

    December 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Akira

      Of course he's not. And please stop shouting.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  12. opAZ

    I am no catholic but what the pope said is right on.
    do speak out more and often mr. pope.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • a con

      ok priest

      December 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  13. Moe Mahendran

    For the first time in modern times of the Church's 1800 year history, this Pope has the guts to speak the truth and walk in the foot steps Jesus the moral philosopher. Take my hats off to him.
    An Atheist and a Capitalist.
    I am my brothers keeper.
    Thomas Paine Re-incarnate.
    Moses.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  14. opAZ

    I am no catholic but I think what the pope said is right on.
    do speak out more and often mr. pope.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  15. JakeAZ

    i am also an atheist and also socially & economically very liberal...so other than the fact that the pope believes in all that magical nonsense, i love the stuff that he's been saying. he's the only world leader who's actively challenging wealth & power. somebody needs to do it. nobody in congress will.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  16. R C

    Game plans must change with the game. Trickle down or bottom up – neither is always right or always wrong. I lean conservative but have no problem admitting when something isn't working. Republicans had better stop with the "let them eat cake" or they will see history repeated. No one can say with a straight face that the wealth distribution is this country is a healthy thing although as manufacturing trickles back I suspect that this will subside somewhat – but that won't be for 20 years.

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

      right on RC, there must be some balance. with income & wealth inequality at current levels, the pendulum must swing back,

      December 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  17. isolate

    Malicious commentators like Limbaugh don't deserve a papal reply: they're only playing to their addled audiences for the money it brings in.

    There are many parallels between early Christianity and early Marxism, both of which focused on the poor and powerless.

    Both suffered a sudden reversal as soon as they became a dominant force in their societies. They abandoned the poor and powerless and allied themselves with wealthy and influential. Both ended up living off the labor of the same poor and powerless they were supposed to protect and creating an elite which had the best of everything. Today's North Korea is the most blatant example of the failure of political Marxism.

    The problem doesn't lie with the ideologies, but with the all-too-fallible humans who attempt to interpret them to their own advantage. Pope Francis is hewing to the teachings of Jesus as found in the New Testament; this is making the Catholic hierarchy, long used to privilege, uncomfortable, as it should.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      And that's the most trenchant irony of all; the very moment the Pope starts to actually propound some of the actual teachings of the Christ, the Crischinz(tm) all set their hair on fire...

      December 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  18. Matt

    I agree Francis, you are a realist.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  19. Rosslaw

    I'm a little surprised Pope Francis felt compelled to respond to an incoherent drug addict like Rush, let alone the right-wing masters of disaster who pretend to favor free enterprise and supposedly loathe federal funds while lobbying for federal funds and subsidies. Sort of like responding to a dog's fart. Anyway, when right-wingers profess to be upset over common sense truly Christian sentiments as espoused by Francis, you know he's doing something right (as in correct).

    December 15, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Deus Ibi Est

      A Pope responding to half-wits and bigots makes a nice CHANGE! God bless the Holy Father.

      December 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
      • R C

        In reality, you are the bigot because you falsely accuse anyone whose views differ from yours as a bigot. Don't be a bigot, you bigot. 🙂

        December 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Are you really saying that Limbaugh's comments were not bigoted? And that Francis is not correct about trickle-down economics and its effect on the poor (bearing in mind the message of christianity regarding the meek poor).

          December 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
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About this blog

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.