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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. lol??

    "But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

    OK Crips and Bloods, 2 choices are yours and yer duty is to vote.
    1) The pope likes to flatter his enemies.
    2)He better crack the book and brush up on his theology.

    Mar 10:18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

    Got that dirtbag dustball Karl?? Just because yer dad converted so he could continue his law practice doesn't mean you have the right to take it out on the wurld.

    December 16, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • psych ward staff

      Sorry everyone. I tried to get the keyboard away from you-know-who, but he tried to bite me again. He seemed extra angry this morning, yelling at the top of his lungs at the bedpan, calling it a "socie". Best just ignore.

      December 16, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  2. Joe

    Some really unedicutated folk don't know, what the Pope knows very well, that communism is the product of capitalism run amok. Otherwise why starving russians in 1905 and 1917 would rise against capitalism???

    December 15, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  3. A.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. How can we say'Marxist ideology is wrong?' The Kingdom of Heaven on earth propounded by Jesus can be compared to the Utopian society envisaged by Marx

    December 15, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Mario

      One more time again, the same heretical protestant rhetoric.

      December 16, 2013 at 5:39 am |
  4. cj

    He is right about Marxism only because he has seen the evils propagated by Marxists. But he is no economist, otherwise he would realize that free economies have dome more to improve the living conditions of mankind than anything else. You cannot have equal opportunity and equal outcomes. Therefore, income inequality is merely an outcome of some people excelling above others, and there is NOTHING UNRIGHTEOUS about that.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Therefore, income inequality is merely an outcome of some people excelling above others, and there is NOTHING UNRIGHTEOUS about that.'

      There is if you ignore those less unfortunate at the same time.

      December 16, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  5. Oltan

    Who is Rush Limbaugh that his comments are given a second thought? He is a religious leader of the church of Free Marker Fantasy and and the temple of American Exceptionalism. He has a hard core of about 20 million fanatical followers, about the same number who think the Earth is flat. What he says is utterly predictable, one could program a computer to spew out the same voluble litany on cue. Safely disregard him, three hurrays to Pope Francis!

    December 15, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • david mann

      "Who is Rush Limbaugh"? A morbidly obese, misogynistic, drug addicted, racist, lying, far-right, ultra conservative who spews hatred 3 hours a day.

      December 16, 2013 at 1:29 am |
      • Thinker

        Rush Limbaugh is the male Ann Coulter. Couple of hate-mongers who revel in their perceived moral superiority as conservatives. Trickle-down theory was a failure on a grand scale but they keep trying to revive it because it makes them and others of their ilk even richer. Sad thing is that some people still believe in it.

        December 16, 2013 at 7:19 am |
      • alexandre k

        Yes, the Pope shown his unlimited power of compassion just by answering him....

        December 16, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  6. Kris

    Nowhere in Jesus teaching did he ever endorse socialism or criticize capitalism. Jesus promoted the voluntary act of giving to the poor by individuals, not having money taken from a person and given to someone else by a government. Every true follower of Jesus believes in helping the poor, but that does not mean rejecting capitalism and endorsing socialism. In fact, a rejection of capitalism will usually result in people having less money available to give to those less fortunate.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • D

      Matthew 19:24
      Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

      December 15, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
      • impossiblepossible

        Mat 19:25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

        December 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
        • leonel1982

          Matthew 25:41-46

          “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

          December 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • cj

      Well said.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Nowhere in Jesus teaching did he ever endorse socialism or criticize capitalism. '

      He also didnt endorse capitalism either.
      However, if you were to compare the two ideologies with the teachings found in the bible, which do you think would fit jesus better?

      December 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  7. Luke

    UH-OH, GUESS THEY'D BETTER TAKE BACK HIS "MAN OF THE YEAR" AWARD...

    December 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  8. phneutral

    Maybe he's a Groucho Marxist.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  9. Sickntired

    Having the Pope grouped into the some category or group fits the radical, mindless audience these conservative talk show hosts appeal to.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Hez316

      I'm surprised he didn't say he believes in capitalism tempered by Christianity

      December 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • DaLe

      Similarly as calling a person who apparently "supports" particular murder and mayhem in East Africa from a villa in the U.S. a conservative you mean?

      December 15, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
      • DaLe

        Reference not about the U.S. administration, but about that particular group of 'adults' forcing children...

        December 15, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  10. DavidH

    If the Pope were a Marxist for what he said then one could assert as easily that Jesus Christ was/is a Marxist for telling us to feed the poor and care for the sick and give to others and to pay our taxes. Of course, the early apostles and Jesus lived communally but they were never opposed to private sector activities either or ownerhip. I really wish the right=wing conservatives would read the Bible that they claim to cling to.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
  11. Elliott Carlin

    If Marxism is wrong-and it is-he'll have few friends south of the border.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • pjhill1915

      If fascism is wrong, and it is, he'll have many friends all over the world although Limbaugh would not be one of them. We fought against people just like Limbaugh in WWII when we had FDR. FDR's four freedoms were freedom of speech and religions and freedom from want and freedom from fear. Of course, Limbaugh dislikes speech that finds religious grounds for criticizing economic doctrine that does nothing for the poor and would like to make the speakers of such doctrine afraid if he could. Perhaps at the core, Limbaugh is simply an angry, mean spirited chauvinist and militarist – and like I said – just like the people we fought in WWII.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
      • lol??

        In americult the war against the draft was finally won by electin' draft dodgers to Commander in Chief. No more cheap petty wars. Now pay through the nose to the mercenaries.

        December 16, 2013 at 8:06 am |
  12. annieL

    I think the Pope was talking about an economic, political and social system together. We all make our livings in a system that favors some over others, by law, by the market value placed on our education, skill, personality, age, race, gender and social standing, and by the relative political power of wealthy individuals versus a poor, working class or middle class individual. Does anyone really believe that each of us starts life on an equal footing and a level playing field? No.That's why the "system" matters and we in a democracy create that system through laws and other means. Whom does our system favor and whom does it punish? We say we reward "hard work" but is that really so? Certainly hard work will make you a living but what standard of living? How many hours, how hard should an American have to work to achieve the rewards of a middle-class standard of living? Should 40 hours of work buy you a two-bedroom starter home in a safe neighborhood, a reliable car, healthcare, and retirement security or should it just depend on what kind of work you do? Should everybody who wants to work be hired to work at something they can do? Can we have full employment under our system or must some percentage be left idle to exist on charity and government checks? It would be so good if we could as a nation address these questions and agree on answers and make our system work better for all, without putting labels like "Marxism," "socialism," "redistribution of wealth," etc on those who believe change is needed.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • crimes against children

      pope needs to respond to the UN for crimes against children.

      December 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Bozo

      You bring up some good points to think about annieL

      December 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Sandy

      Now why would you think that the Pope was just singling out the US?

      December 15, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
  13. antodav

    If you have to tell people you’re not a Marxist, you probably are one.

    If I hadn’t left the Catholic Church already, this ratchet pope would have caused me to do so now. 

    December 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • LogM

      What a logic...! If someone calls you a thief and you say you are not, that means you are?

      December 15, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • PDG887

      Are you channeling Joe McCarthy on purpose?

      December 15, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
      • Sandy

        Lol. No kidding.

        December 15, 2013 at 11:22 pm |
    • 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.
      On the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, the apostle John received an astonishing revelation from Jesus Christ. In John's account, he records a prophecy in which Jesus Christ would reign on this earth for a thousand years. During this time all peoples will finally know true peace and harmony, there will be no wars, disputes and total equality and freedom. Probably Marx would have been inspired by the predicted rule of Jesus when he also envisaged an Utopian, Marxian society.

      December 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  14. DA

    Christians must live the life of a Christain, not the hoarding of money.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • crimes against children

      as the pope and vatican? Starving children denied food while the vatican invests in stocks as Bank of America

      December 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • 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 marketers 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.The Kingdom of Heaven on earth propounded by Jesus – a world of equality, freedom, fellowship without courts of law, world without pain, depression, tears - would have probably inspired Marx to envisage an Utopian society.

      December 18, 2013 at 1:54 am |
  15. shawbrooke

    Of course he's not a Marxist, he comes from Latin America where Marxism has largely failed. In addition, Marxists are anti faith of all types and they want people like the Pope dead.

    Marxists are secular humanists, as everyone who reads knows, and the second tenet of secular humanism is that all religion should be stamped out of public view at best, and eliminated by eliminating people of faith at worst. The difference is that Marxists generally want to kill people of faith in gulags, and secular humanists want to starve people of faith by keeping them out of the work force. Both the Marxist and out there secular humanist faces of secular humanist are aggressively evangelical and attempt to convince you before they name their belief. Been there, it's not fun, and the consequences for human lives are substantial.

    December 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • bmurdoc

      "Secular Humanism is a non-religious worldview rooted in science, naturalistic philosophy, and humanist ethics. Rather than faith, doctrine, or mysticism, secular humanists use reason, compassion, and common sense to find solutions to human problems. We promote universal values such as integrity, benevolence, fairness, and responsibility, and we believe that with reason, an open marketplace of ideas, good will, an tolerance, progress can be made toward building a better world for ourselves and future generations".

      I truly have no idea what you're speaking about in post. Why would you think secular humanists are out to starve people? Is that something your priest taught you or something?

      December 15, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  16. ehuite

    There's a big difference between helping the poor who sit on their thumbs, and those who really try but can't succeed by themselves. If the Pope only wants the wealthy to hand out alms to "poor" people then I think he's wrong. But, I really believe those who absolutely help themselves, or those who really try and still can't do need a helping hand.

    December 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Pacman

      Whenever the topic about the poor comes up, too many people immediately pass judgement and words like 'handouts', 'freebies', and 'welfare' are uttered and sweeping generalizations are made. Its most likely that they are blinded by their biases or never really experienced or understand how it is to be poor nor they try to understand the many factors that causes poverty.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
      • Lady Madonna

        You speak the truth, my friend.

        December 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  17. babooph

    US media allows anyone against going back to feudalism , be called a communist.

    December 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Thinker...

      I don't think anyone really wants to go back to feudalism. It has absolutely no relevance to the modern world and offers no benefits at all.

      December 16, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  18. Lord Toronaga

    There is this wonderful quote...."Be the best you can be, do the best you can and enjoy your life while you are living because you are going to be dead a long long time". Better think about that before you dedicate your life to the bottom dwellers and the silly gay church.

    December 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Lady Madonna

      What an ignorant comment, from an ignorant mindset. You have proven, indeed, that you are one of the "bottom dwellers."

      December 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Pacman

      Only a person who is at the height of their ignorance can make a comment like this.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • drrichard

      The first three clauses of your quote aren't bad, but your understanding of them is poor. We're all united in death; ignore the gays and the poor and you are clearly no better than those you casually disparage.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • twalk

      where did this so called wonderful quote of your come from.

      December 15, 2013 at 8:37 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.