December 14th, 2013
08:30 PM ET

Pope: Marxist ideology is 'wrong'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(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. Joe Plumber

    Anger and frustration over greed and the oppression of the working class is not Marxism. It's the reason why this country was founded.

    December 15, 2013 at 5:31 am |
    • Larry Libater

      You said it exactly right.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:53 am |
    • Youtube - "Context!!!!!"

      Right. The elite rich have successfully repackage this as being un-American, and our vast, poorly-education citizens have taken it as biblical truth.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:53 am |
      • devin

        We live in a country in which even the poorest own a big screen tv, cell phone, and have a convenient "free food" card. You really have no clue as to your faulty logic, do you?

        December 15, 2013 at 6:34 am |
  2. Yahweh

    Marxist no. Trotskyist Rothschild agent, yes.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:55 am |
    • Angela

      Silly, you wouldn't recognize either if they came with a label tied to it with big printing.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:03 am |
    • Hefeweizen

      That is some home spun, farm fresh, free range crazy talk you've got going on there Yahweh.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:43 am |
    • Daws

      Lol even Limbaugh isn't nutty enough to invoke Rothschild conspiracy theories.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:47 am |
  3. Bob Bobson

    Rush Limbough is a big fat idiot. That's why he's the voice of the right wing in this country.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:39 am |
  4. mandarax

    Why even listen to Limbaugh's interpretations of politics or economics? He has only a high school education. There's nothing wrong with that, unless you go around promoting yourself as someone with an expert opinion in these complex fields.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:08 am |
    • oh

      I was never bothered by Rush. What always disturbed me though, was the huge number of folks who gobbled up everything he said as fact. Rush should have been dismissed years ago.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:14 am |
      • Youtube - "Context!!!!!"

        Rush is a never-ending spring of ignorance, bigotry and anger for those who thirst for it.

        December 15, 2013 at 5:21 am |
  5. scparegien

    Honestly, without Rush Limbaugh making his comment and the press slobbering all over it I would never have known that the Pope even said this. I get his comments overall. The Pope is bringing back an old conflict and debate that has existed in the church for centuries. Some believe in the resolute poverty of Christ as a way of staying pure from worldly influences. There is no doubt that some Popes in the distant past were corrupted by money. Every human being can be corrupted by money. I also read and listened to most of Limbaugh's point as well. He took umbrage with the use of key terms that criticized specific conservative leaders like Reagan and "Reaganomics". His counter was that the U.S. has been the most voluntarily generous nation on Earth to the poor and it is capitalism that allows it to be so. But I don't think the Pope was trying to single out the U.S. per say. Trickle down is an old term that most people under 40 don't remember or get.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:32 am |
    • Bob Bobson

      Trickle down economics has never trickled down. It's never accomplished anything but creating record deficits and destroying the middle class.

      December 15, 2013 at 4:42 am |
      • Youtube - "Context!!!!!"

        Yes, it's always been a false glimmer of hope and along with it they were given God, guns and stories about good ole America to keep them happy. Now families are smaller, both parents frequently work, debt is higher and they now have less than their parents had, but they're too dumb to realize it.`

        December 15, 2013 at 5:24 am |
  6. Mumu

    Rush is a complete idiot, at least in this regard. His best moment in life is that the Pope even notices the existence of this clown.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:26 am |
  7. dwayne

    The Pope is 100% correct. Modern capitalism relies on non compete agreements, special tax breaks, and buying politicians to be successful. It is time for the US to embrace the Canadian and European economic models. It needs to happen soon, before it's too late! By the way, Rush Limbaugh is a joke and a loser as are his listeners.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:25 am |
    • Joe The Boss

      The Pope needs to stop making Marxist statements if he is not a Marxist. All intelligent people know that the Catholic church is the biggest cult in the world.

      December 15, 2013 at 4:43 am |
      • max

        joe the moron,

        helping poor is Marxist?

        December 15, 2013 at 5:25 am |
      • Youtube - "Context!!!!!"

        Hardly, this is the kind of stuff the elite rich need to be reminded about. As an atheist I like this pope.

        December 15, 2013 at 5:26 am |
  8. TomTailor

    Why does what Rush Limbaugh says even get reported on....he's a jerk, idiot and just plain mean.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:25 am |
  9. devent

    most netizen misunderstand the pope when it reprimand capitalism for not looking at the misery of the poor.the U.S. is not the target but China,who did not help ,much the phillines

    December 15, 2013 at 3:09 am |
  10. tuscarora50

    If it bleeds it leads. Through reading articles about the wacko right and I am curtailing my reading of "news" organizations that put pricipal over principles...to include limiting purchases from their advertisers.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:08 am |
    • David Kaftan

      ie. every news organization? lol

      December 15, 2013 at 3:18 am |
    • Youtube - "Context!!!!!"

      You belong with Fox, whose motto is, "We decide, we report."

      December 15, 2013 at 5:28 am |
  11. Rick

    We've come to a point in time where people side with a Pope over an American.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:00 am |
    • Indigo

      The Pope is from America. South America.

      What makes citizens of the United States so special that you should side with them without qualification? Why should people have to pick "sides" at all?

      You may think you're being eloquent with that short statement, but really you're just putting out your pride and prejudices for all the world to see.

      December 15, 2013 at 3:09 am |
    • Bill Marvel

      In this case, i certainly hope so.

      December 15, 2013 at 3:58 am |
    • mandarax

      I would hope to always side with a thoughtful human being over a blabbering pig, no matter what continents they are from.

      December 15, 2013 at 4:11 am |
    • Youtube - "Context!!!!!"

      Limbaugh is a sweet tasting poison for the ignorant.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:29 am |
  12. Ryan

    Capitalism has done more good for the world than what some guy in a dress who thinks he speaks for the Almighty

    December 15, 2013 at 2:53 am |
    • Big Shiz

      And the tea party has done more bad for our country than a black democratic president could ever do.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:59 am |
      • HELLO

        Is that so? Are you brain dead?

        December 15, 2013 at 3:05 am |
        • vidal808

          Look in the mirror dude and you will see a brain death looking right back at you!

          December 15, 2013 at 3:20 am |
    • Indigo

      Capitalism also incentivizes and allows any behavior as long as it amasses more capital. Human beings are reduced to their monetary worth, both net and potential as a cog for squeezing out higher share prices while the natural world is similarly reduced to a well of feedstock for humans to convert to "more useful" things.

      Yeah, capitalism brought us electricity, plastics, and indoor plumbing, but it also gave us a culture of cheapness that acclimates a people to eternal sales while slowly stagnating wages, invariably forcing everyone to live scrounging for low prices every day and defend those who simultaneously pay AND sell to you, all this built on the backs of marines charging into exploding oil fields and child soldiers working rare earth metal mines.

      Yeah, capitalism works, but it is also tragically flawed—nobody likes to admit that, especially those who benefit from it like a welfare queen. Comparing how much "more good" something is than another is not only childish, it is meaningless.

      God help us.

      December 15, 2013 at 3:37 am |
      • Youtube - "Context!!!!!"

        As an atheist, I agree with what you have written. Parents work harder even though families are much smaller, and the willful ignorance of the vast majority of Americans of the exploitation of corrupt countries with low wages, health care and environmental laws is more than just shameful. The means to ignore this by submerging ourselves in distractions has readily been made available in the form of reality shows, Facebook, netflix, available through our TV, computer and cell phones whenever it is craved – no need to look at those unpleasant stories – we want to feel good all the time!

        December 15, 2013 at 5:38 am |
    • martiendejong

      Just like religion has done to the world huh?

      December 15, 2013 at 7:27 am |
  13. ThinkAgain

    You know the GOP and tea bags and paranoid RWNJs have gone round the bend for good when they call someone a Marxist simply because they think it's wrong to screw the must vulnerable among us.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:50 am |
    • middle america man

      They have ventured into self parody based on a lack of education.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:44 am |
  14. mike

    Rush and Sarah Palin are analogous to the Pharisees of Jesus' time, who used hypocrisy in argument to try to thwart the truth. Rush and Sarah will be bathing in fire. As Jesus said "on that day, many will cry out to me 'Lord, Lord, did I not do works in your name?' and I will say to them 'Get away, I do not know you'".

    December 15, 2013 at 2:49 am |
    • ThinkAgain

      I don't believe in the literal Bible, but what you posted sounds about right.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:51 am |
  15. mike

    It is obvious lthat the Pope is not castigating capitalism, but that he is castigating those who abuse capitalism, to enrich themselves without concern for their fellow man. It is not the poor who are so threatened as the middle class being driven into poverty, and the subsequent threat of collapse of the economic system.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:43 am |
  16. annier

    I'm not a Pope fan, though this one seems like a pretty good guy. Why he would even dignify the ignorant comments of a fat, drug-addled, hate-monger is beyond me. Ignore him, Pope Frank...anyone with any sense does.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • Arrimine Venyalla

      Perhaps this Pope is not comfortable being as judgmental as you are.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:47 am |
      • Bill Marvel

        Ask yourself, to whom should we turn for moral instruction, Rush or the Pope?

        December 15, 2013 at 4:06 am |
  17. jason

    Wow I am amazed at the power of Rush. Even God has to defend himself against this abomination

    December 15, 2013 at 2:27 am |
    • 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.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:30 am |
  18. barbara stall

    The Pope is correct about idolatry of money which we have plenty of in our country. In all of these comments above, no one has specified knowledge about Socialism or Marxism – both are oppressive. Socialism is what is taking placed in our country today. Those who work hard and have earned their way in life (I'm talking about the middle class) are subject now to a socialized healthcare system, more taxes, stagnant wages, inflation – all to redistribute to those who cannot and more importantly WILL NOT even try to find a job. Thus, government is stealing from others to give to those who would rather smoke pot, sell drugs and have children out of wedlock. Most people who get government assistant are irresponsible unwed mothers who have children and their deadbeat boyfriends (many) live off of them. This is completely immoral and against church teachings. Marxism is total control over the populace of a country. If you've done any research about Obama and progressives in our government, you would know this is the ultimate goal of those who don't believe in God. Marxism is a totally oppressive and godless system. Our country now glorifies filth and immoral ways of life. If any of you posting know anything about the Catholic religion, you would recognize the destruction of the nuclear family, total corruption of our government, hatemongers in the media. If you were smart, you'd not watch any news on TV – especially anything political. The media only reports what they want you to believe. None of it is reality. Those who are really running our country think most Americans are fools and idiots. I believe they're right.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:26 am |
    • A P

      Socialized medicine is only available to the very, very poor. Insurance is not socialized medicine. One of the great dividers in this country is trying to bring yourself out of poverty. If you're anywhere between poverty and 6 figures, you're likely to go bankrupt over any medical condition. This is not the case in any other industrialized nation.

      December 15, 2013 at 3:10 am |
    • howudothat

      I see how you can assume your simple idea 2 step logic, but your understanding of everything at once is incorrect. First, Obamacare or the ACA is not a socialist idea – if it were, it would be a single payer system where taxes would cover everyone and we'd all have the same health care coverage... That would be the truest form of redistribution of wealth from those that work to those that do not.

      The second most important fact that your choosing to ignore is the out-sourcing of MILLIONS of American jobs in the name of capitalism or PROFITS. You have logically been lead to believe that these jobs were lost because our workers were demanding to much. You do realize, our society demands human and environmental rights. Before you counter this point, please read further with an open mind.

      These out-sourced jobs, which country's do we out-source to? Do these country's have our same human and environmental rights or standards? When you understand that we, the USA, have traded our human and environmental rights for profits, you realize, it's not socialism that's unbalancing our society, it's "free" market capitalism.

      What I was raised to believe, is that we, the United States of America, were the envy of the world because the opportunity here was "fair" for all. We prided ourselves on the ideology, that we are freedom fighters, fighting for human and environmental rights across the planet. Today we are trading away our ideals for profits. Why, because a spread sheet do not care about your rights, it only cares about profitability. One of the biggest costs to on a spread sheet is human freedom and environmental protection. This is why it makes perfect sense for an investor, to invest, off-shore.

      Are these investors inhumane? No. The logic for profitability makes this decision for them. Human and environmental rights aren't considered. Why would they be, those country's we out source our jobs to, make it "free" for the investor to by pass "OUR" human and environmental laws. Think of it this way, out-sourcing jobs is removing human freedoms 1 job at a time.

      What makes this cycle even worse, is you not understanding this idea or refusing to understand it's effects. We can not even consider taxing "those profits". The profits being made by US off-shore investments to help the people who's jobs (lives) we traded away for money. Take the time to estimate, how many good paying jobs have we lost? You really think it's because we are lazy?

      What we all agree on, is our nation is suffering, we just disagree on why. What you need to do is look up our GDP and wall street trends, what do you notice? Profits are booming – I wonder where they got that money from? If Obama were a true Marxist or Socialist – wouldn't we "all" be sitting pretty right now? We would be increasing our wealth-fare payments, our food stamp payments, our social security payments, improving our educational system, up-grading our infrastructure, etc... Are we doing any of those things? Aren't we doing the opposite, claiming our social programs cost to much? This is not Socialism or Marxism, we are trending towards Fascism. Corporations monopolizing the resources, supply sided economics, for the greater good – who's good? They way I see it, for them to keep profiting, they need to remove more and more human and environmental rights – the USA – back to it's roots – enslave the poor – they'll be better off...

      Wake up – the struggle for resources is man made – we can create unlimited resources – the fear of losing power is in your mind, created by a conservative ideology – to protect what's yours – fearing there will not be more. There's no reason to fight – when we all have enough.

      PS – let me guess – you're that clown that refuses to share at the family BBQ... ONE LOVE...

      December 15, 2013 at 5:18 am |
      • Youtube - "Context!!!!!"

        I agree with most everything you've written. Very true.

        But on this, "Wake up – the struggle for resources is man made – we can create unlimited resources" you are in error. I would know, I have a geology degree. We have been living in the era of cheap energy (oil, gas, coal) for about 140 years, and in a couple of decades when those peak, we will be paying ever more and receiving ever less. It really comes down to cheap energy – if it was even far cheaper than it is now we could extract minerals from sea water. The people who will still be benefiting in the near future (three decades) – you got it – the elite rich.

        December 15, 2013 at 5:49 am |
  19. bspurloc

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

    December 15, 2013 at 2:25 am |
    • bilbfit

      In other words, he doesn't like rich dudes, yet he manages to live like a king. How ironic.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:40 am |
      • mike

        Wrong. Pope Francis refuses the gold trimming that the Popes before him had. He has a wooden cross instead of one made of gold, his robes are of simple cloth. Pope Francis lives a true example of Christ. bilbfit, you are a servent of Satan in your attempt to bind Pope Francis and Jesus Christ.

        December 15, 2013 at 2:50 am |
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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.