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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. And

    Who is this guy anyway, and what REALLY is a Pope?!!

    December 14, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Again, we go

      He heads a cult of ordinary (poor) folk who worship a fictional deity/creator/creature and believe that they will survive their own demise 😦

      December 14, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      A pope? Christ's representative on earth, I'm told.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
      • Twice

        (christ) is fictional, the WHOLE fable is, tee! hee!!

        December 14, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
  2. EX Catholic

    This is like; who cares what the pope thinks or say? Well romanists who are Idolaters like him! So whether is capitalism, communism, fascism, romanism, Marxism or Catholicism, as someone said somewhere "If it ends in an ism chances are is a fanaticism" One and only one thing is for sure, a fact, he like his followers is an Idolater!

    December 14, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Gig's

      i'm glad you are an "X" Catholic, we don't need the likes of you trying to speak for the rest of us or the Pope, who in case you may have not noticed is gaining ground based on HIS down to earth approach.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  3. Bill

    Pope Francis.

    Irrelevant now that he has answered back to Rush Limbaugh.

    December 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Gig's

      it would have been easier to call Rush an A**hole, the Pope wouldn't have to worry about a response, cause he would have told the truth again. Rush wouldn't know Marxism from Facism, he is so self centered it makes us all laugh.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  4. Bigboard

    Rush is over his intellectual head here. Oh, wait a minute, he always is.

    December 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Then again

      Rush's audience are not attracted to intelligence anyway. They like knee-jerk bullying and the craziest nonsense imaginable, just so long as liberals get blamed for everything.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  5. BuckRogere

    I ask all you capitalism defenders to read Aesop's Fable 'The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg'. That ain't too much to ask. It's short.

    December 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  6. stan

    Please your lordship,do not be discouraged by agents of the devil,i must say your stance on materialism has inspired many a christian who before now,lost faith in the church

    December 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  7. Katie

    I would love to find a place that people would always be happy! No more fighting! Nor killings ; )

    December 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  8. pbernasc

    ANYone who dares questioning the wisdom of predatory capitalism as opposed to capitalism directed toward sustainable development for short Sustainable Capitalism .. is clearly a marxist, because all that matters is today's profit, not developing a healthy economy , the reason being there is a lot profit making when the economy rapidly collapses and recovers than in simply having a steady developing economy on the long run .. not only , through the process of boom and bust , the middle class gets decimated every time, while the upper class, owns more and more of the land
    this guarantees that there won't ever be a large well educated middle class that would prevent wild profiteering from happening

    so yes, the Pope is clearly a marxist cause he is saying no to fall prey of the predatory scams and that is clearly a bad thing, capitalists should always be free to be above the law and suck as much cash as they want from people

    December 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Vic

      The moment you suppress private ownership of capital and level the playing field, hence Marxism, you cut people off their natural potential, job opportunities and making a living.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        People will not work for the benefit of each other and of society?

        December 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
      • pbernasc

        the pope never said anything about suppressing private ownership of capital ,, all he said is not to become salves of money, rich or the sake of richness is not christian, that's all he is saying. That is a big issue for hose who want unregulated capitalism which is predatory in nature, at least on the long run it will become dehumanizing and predatory. Trickle down economy never existed, it's just a myth, .. no more no less than the myth of God itself (the last one is not a pope statement .. 😉

        December 15, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  9. Professor

    It is NOT either or. It is NOT Capitalism OR Socialism. It is BOTH. There has to be a BALANCE between free market capitalism and government control. This is not shocking. What IS shocking, is this Pope's apparent misunderstanding of capitalism. Praise the Lord this was not an authoritative statement because this guy needs to think harder and pray before he speaks.

    "Trickle down...depends on trusting the good in those with power." Nope- BASIC understanding of capitalism would have advised the Pope that it does not depend on "trust" or people in power doing "good" except if you define "good as "their own personal benefit. Capitalism does not depend on good intentions, only good stuff created and delivered. "Good intentions" (in the self sacrificial way that HE means) are the domain of his Holiness, not the Businessman. The idea is to create the best product or service for the best price and...never mind. Please Lord, if it is not to much trouble and if it be your will could Francis have a conversation with Benedict about this....

    December 14, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • mickey1313

      The system you describe, and in deed it is our system, is the root of most evil. It is a system that helps the top get more snd everyone else suffes. Profit is good anf needed as incenntive. However no one deserves to make 20-200 times there employees.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  10. Todd Smekens

    Reblogged this on Middletown Voice and commented:
    This Pope just keeps getting better and better...

    December 14, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  11. Dina

    Tell it like it is. Rush is a junkie moron who appeals to angry white trash. And the pope has to repond to that?

    December 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  12. jonline

    Go Francis! Go! Go! Go!

    December 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  13. Gary Simpson

    Capitalism has brought more people out of poverty than any other form of government in history. Capitalism gives people freedom – to work hard and be rewarded for their hard work. So many uninformed opinions on this post – unbelievable. Nothing is perfect but Capitalism compared to other forms of government is far superior. Obama believes in wealth redistribution or "Socialism-lite" – it won't work – his Obama care debacle will end up going down in flames as well as his legacy!

    December 14, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • BuckRogere

      Time for a new model of capitalism. You did notice the financial crash a few years ago? They'll do it again if we don't stop them.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Khophe

      Not sure how Obama became the answer to this link about the Pope but with your "down the flames legacy", same was said about Medicare/Medicaid but I am pretty sure you wouldnt deny yourself Medicare/Meicaid when you qualify for it. Pretty sure when your insurance company no longer has limit cap on your coverage you will throw a fit! Pretty sure you that folks with pre-existing diseases (which is at the definition of the insurance company) who can now have coverage wouldnt let Obamacare go down the flames! So thank Obam for having the guts to do what hasnt been accomplished since the 1900s and despite criticisms agreeing to Republican idea of individual mandate for coverage. After all isnt capitalism about being responsible?

      December 14, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Drew2u

      Capitalism is an economic system, not a system of government.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Dennis

      Rewarded with what? Subpar wages,diminished retirement benefits and pensions,layoffs,and vulture capitalism takeovers? If that is how capitalism works for some,then it is not a good system to be followed by the majority in this country.It has thus become corrupted by greed.A few reap the rewards while most toil in obscurity and misery.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • Steve S

      Anytime there is even a small government you have some sort of wealth redistribution. Like roads? Or the military? Medicare? National parks? Every one of those is a redistribution of wealth. It's ignorant to even speak about capitalism vs. socialism like it is one or the other. I think calling Obamacare "socialism-lite" is a bit of a stretch. Single payer healthcare would be more socialism. Obamacare is a mess, but the pure market is failing a lot of people, myself included- the current system is a mess. I, for one, believe in capitalism, but I've been failed by the free market. I have a "pre-existing" condition and I have been trying for years to be able to buy my own insurance and open my own business as a consultant. But I can't, because the private insurers refuse to let me buy insurance, because of a minor health issue that is no fault of my own. I have to make every career decision to make sure I can get on a group plan. Where is the private-market answer for folks like me? I've been waiting for years, I keep hearing from Republicans that the free market will take care of it. When Americans can't open businesses because of an exclusive market, capitalism is shooting itself in the foot. If you fear socialism, then make this capitalism work!

      December 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Dennis

      Instead,what we are seeing now is the Tea Party going down in flames with the House Speaker and the majority conservative base GOP throwing gallons of gasoline on that mess.Good riddance.I hope those same flames also engulf that big ball of blubber,Rush Limbaugh right along with them.

      December 14, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  14. Kinda wondering

    I sometimes find myself wondering how the foul-mouth whackadoodles became the face of conservatism. Limbaugh, Palin, Hannity, Megyn Kelly, O'Reilly, Coulter, Bachmann, the list goes on and on. Why are the meanest, craziest, and often the dumbest people now the faces and voices of conservatism?

    One of them even made history by being the first candidate ever to feel the need to deny that she was a witch (and 40% of the voters STILL voted for her!).

    How did they get so nuts? What happened to the ones with brains like William F. Buckley? Why is it all blow-hards and whack-a-doodles?

    December 14, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • Dina

      The GOP made a deliberate decision at some point, to pander to the ignorant redneck crowd because they were the only ones that could still be reached through fear mongering and hate mongering. Now they have to live with that decision and what is has brought them.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Vic

      Not to take anything away from the ones you mentioned, but in general, in the United States, a Capitalist country, most people invest and seek success in the private sector.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
      • Kinda wondering

        You must have meant that for someone else, because it doesn't make the slightest sense attached to my post.

        December 14, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
        • Vic

          Actually, it was for you. In a successful system, most people are not interested in public office, instead, they pursue careers tracks in the private sector.

          December 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
        • Kinda wondering

          Okey dokey there, but of course I wasn't talking about that at all, nor does it in any way respond to any aspect of my question.

          December 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Dennis

      Because they appeal to the lower IQ nutbase of the right.Crazy+crazy=more crazy.They babble in the same dialect.They used to be lost in the shuffle.Now they just shuffle along with the lost.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  15. Kathie

    I truly hope and pray that "His Holiness" forgives Limaugh's remarks. I consider Rush as "the devil with a microphone"....he is an IDIOT and the majority of people in the United States take his negative remarks as "gibberish from a madman"....

    December 14, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • BuckRogere

      I'm sure the Pope will forgive Roosh and wish him well. I hope a rabid hyena eats his fat behind while he screams.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Jack

      Just let you know I agree.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  16. BuckRogere

    For I was hungry and ye did not feed me.

    Foodstamp program.

    December 14, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  17. Publilius

    This Pope is looking to the governments to steal money from the rich to give to the poor. That is Marxism. Popes from eternity have approached the issue from non-government ideals. Helping the rich to see it is in their best interest to give freely to the poor. This Pope does not care about the richman's soul. He'd be just as happy if the rich die off as governments steal their fortunes. Mr. Pope, sir, Thou Shall Not Steal! Look that one up in the Bible. I remember reading it somewhere. A government stealing is as bad as an individual, perhaps worse.

    December 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Dina

      Then I guess Christ was a Marxist. It's not rocket science.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Dennis

      Here is one of those Ten Commandments especially for you...Thou shalt not hate.

      December 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • Hollee572

      No, that's not Marxism...you just described Robin Hood, actually.
      Taxation is not theft, it's taxation. If you don't want to pay taxes, please move to a country where there aren't any. Oh, wait, there aren't any countries that don't collect taxes? I wonder why that is. Could it be because people expect their paid, elected officials to actually do their job of solving the bigger problems facing a nation, and if it involves a tax to fund the solution, it's probably better to have a solution we have to fund than to have the problem?
      Now, what I do find disturbing...is the similarity between the tenets of LeVay's Church of Satan and Libertarian ideology. Both have about the same relevancy.

      December 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  18. gordon

    Rush Who?

    December 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  19. BuckRogere

    The meek shall inherit the earth.

    Dictatorship of the proletariat.

    Same-same.

    December 14, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  20. Katie

    It would be Great if there were never ever any Anger in the world. It takes up too much time in our lives and what a waste that it is. Even to just be mad about something that is such a pain in the neck. If only happy would take over always!

    December 14, 2013 at 10:23 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.