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. Mark

    Any Catholics out there should know that you should only get your Catholic (or Church) news from reliable Catholic sources like National Catholic Register. Don't read Catholic "news" from mainstream sites that get everything wrong, or just love to take out of context and misrepresent as a model of business.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  2. mulwillie

    ".. Rush is just playing on other peoples ability to lose touch with reality while making coin off their rage."

    nailed it MightyMoo!

    Does this sound like anyone you know CNN. Rush should have lost credibility with you long ago. He is nothing more than a shock-jock and now you are giving him your platform to spew his his vile diatribe.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • ElmerGantry


      December 15, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  3. Andrew

    Nazi apes hate a truly human pope who follows Jesus' actual commands to love and be truthful.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Ah, Godwin's Law comes into play.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • truth

      yes, the pope and the vatican Nazi. You need to look up history of this evil church

      December 15, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  4. Sal

    Reminds of the rich man that asks, "what else must I do...?" "Go and sell what you have and give to the poor...."
    Rush, hang your head down and walk away!

    December 15, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • truth

      this picture tells it all http://imgur. Com/iX6GP
      Remove spaces

      December 15, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  5. Richard

    Who'd have thought an old time "Liberation theologist" could have snuck in an taken the throne?

    December 15, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • marsilius

      Rev. Bergoglio (Pope Francis) certainly doesn't fit your stereotypical description of him. This apostolic exhortation written by the Pope is just a call for reform that is very much in the tradition of long time Catholic social teaching.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  6. mike

    It comes down to this...a grossly wealthy power that has acquired its riches through open market capitalism takes the podium and attacks the very thing that made it rich. Doesn't add up and they were called out. If they want to help more...maybe they can start paying taxes.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • truth

      as the vatican? Do you know how much wealth they have in the USA alone??? Tax free.

      And they use our tax money (gov grants) to pretend they are doing good with their own money. They are cheats

      December 15, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  7. Colin

    There are some pretty fundamental objections to Catholicism that are hard to get around. Now watch how many people respond and tell me "you have no idea about the Catholic faith," but give no details of what I got wrong.

    1. At its most fundamental level, Catholicism requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the current iteration of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point in our evolution from Hom.o Erectus, gave us eternal life and, about 200,000 years later, sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Greco-Roman Middle East, including Australia, North and South America, Europe, Asia, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies. One would have thought that a visitor from the creator of the Universe would visit (or at least mention) the millions upon millions of Chinese and other Asians, all the people spread throughout North and South America, the Australian Aboriginals, the ancient Europeans or the Sub-Saharan Africans. Instead, his entire visit and his entire Holy Book, the Bible, is 100% concentrated on the Jews. It seems obvious beyond any rational doubt that the Jews made God in their image and not vice-versa.

    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and observing the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze Age and Greco-Roman Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages. I mean, let me ask a believer this. Do you even have the slightest idea who any of the 100+ authors of the Bible were? Do you have any idea who complied it? Who decided what Bronze Age Jewish writings to include and what to exclude and the criteria they used? I bet you don’t.

    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Catholicism does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Catholicism. To the extent we reject Catholic morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Catholic. We just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    9. When backed into a corner, Catholicism admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. This is probably the “mother of all understatements”. In any event, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Catholic based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    December 15, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Good post as always.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Zoso5150

      Well written Colin. Unfortunately, you cannot prove there isn't a God. Be a good person in life regardless of your not believing in God and I believe you will be fine.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Brock

      Colin, that is an outstanding post. It's like you peeled the words from my brain and typed them yourself. Great job!

      December 15, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • jlvr72

      You waste all that time writing such a long post and you prove nothing.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Jason

      Absolutely spot on!!

      December 15, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Peruna

      "You've managed to kill everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!" (Kirk to Kahn, Star Trek II)

      Yet again another bitter retort by an atheist who has read the words of the Bible but does not have a freaking clue as to their meanings. You are so obsessed about whatever inconsistency you can find in the Bible you entirely miss the narrative. That narrative is love. That narrative is upmost concern for your fellow man and the condition of the less fortunate. Repeated over and over again in the New Testament.

      You don't mention that, do you? No, it wouldn't fit YOUR narrative. So, let's look at the great atheists of the 20th century: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, just to name a few. How many millions did they massacre? How many billions have are raised by Christian and other faith-based charities EVERY YEAR. How many billions of man hours do Christians and other faiths spend in missions to help the less fortunate.

      And what do the atheists do? Anything except demand the government to do more. How many atheist charities are there? How many atheist missionaries are there?

      December 15, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Evenkeel

      Colin. Many of your arguments are reasonable enough but some seem quite inacurate, and follow some if the same ill logic and contradictions that you are attempting to criticize.
      1. The bible is 100% concentrated on the Jews. seeming how Christianity came from Judaism it is not surprising that Jews play a central role in the bible, however it is clearly not 100% about Jews. It is as much a critique on Romans as it is about Jews. But more than that it is about redemption, forgiveness, hope and morality. How cannot only be about Jews yet take stories from all of these other religions/regional beliefs.
      2. Arguing what god can or should be able do is a ridiculous notion. Either either you believe in him and assume god is aware of everything in the universe, or he is not real and there can do nothing. It is as simple as that, breaking down telepathic notions and mind reading is really not relevant. And if god is real, and you want to think about him as a "being" that is in one location, those notions are still not far fetched. Quantum physics, entanglement, brainwaves, and energy fields which are all based on solid science can account for many of the abilities you listed off as outlandish. This veers from Christianity (I am agnostic so I take the presence of god and atheism each as a possibility and therefore have different views than Christians) but I dont tend to think of god as some being, more of a omnipresent spirit that exists throughout the universe.
      3. You claim Jesus knew nothing about Europe but was somehow familiar with the Greco Roman the world (this accounts for about 75% of Europe at the time.
      4. You claim that "when pushed into a corner Catholics admit that their religion takes a leap of faith". No corner is needed. All religion requires faith, and I've never heard of anyone trying to deny it. They call believing in god "having faith". They openly talk about the need to to have faith in something that is not easy to accept and that all believers have doubt at times. Again this is a pointless argument that is not really arguing much of anything. Also faith is belief in god for most. Just because you cannot bring yourself to believe in god, it does not mean that other cannot truely believe that god exists. It more than just hope for most believers. Something doesn't have to be true for one to 100% believe it.
      5. Your bit about the size of the universe and timescales. I will ever from Christianity a bit but not entirely. Many catholic scholars now acknowledge the likelihood of alien life. This likely would mean that they are also acknowledging that god would oversee that life as well. This would mean god was not simply sitting around waiting for things to happen on earth (the idea of god waiting is a bit ridiculous as well, if got is real I highly doubt he experiences time in the same way as the rest of us) but was creating life elsewhere, intervening where necessary, etc. Its a big universe so im sure things didn't get boring.

      My point in all this is things are not as cut and dry as you would make them seem. I dont necessarily believe everything stated above as I was trying to make some points from the view of a Christian, but I feel those points are still valid.

      Many of your arguments I believe were spot on which is why i am not a christian or member of any other religion and go back and forth between believing or not that god may exist. I am a believer in science first but our best physics (quantum) leaves some very nice holes, and even makes some nice connections, that make the perfect space for god to do his work.
      P.s. Seems like u have a few disciples of your own. Perhaps they will spread the word of your genius and a thousand years people will believe you are a profit of god. Lol a funny thought.

      December 15, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • Evenkeel

        Sorry about any typos or missing words. I wrote this on my phone, which becomes very difficult when writing a long statement.

        December 15, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  8. FeedLimbaughtoAlligators

    I'm tired of the big-mouthed, obnoxious conservative pundits. I'm tired of their brainless redneck followers. It's time for a war on CEOs.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • gager

      It's very disturbing the lack of education and the attack on capitalism and the free market. The only economy that works under voluntary exchange without using force by government is free market capitalism. Why people fear freedom is a puzzle.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • CJ

      I'm tired of pedophiles in the Catholic church that masquerade as priests. Perhaps Francis should get his own house in order before he starts casting stones at the big bad USA.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • truth

        agreed.. but he's part of the cover ups, the worst crime. That would mean exposing himself too. That won't happen.

        They all take the Cardinal Oath, look it up, which states it's OK to lie when protecting the reputation of the church. Pretty sad.

        December 15, 2013 at 9:10 am |
  9. Dan

    It is very tough to listen to people who dont have to work for the roof over their head or to support a family talk about erning money and what is too much

    December 15, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • truth

      wouldn't you love to live as wealthy as Rush? Or even wealthier as the pope?

      Bet rush would love the vaican's wealth,, gold coins and all

      December 15, 2013 at 8:58 am |
      • ElmerGantry

        Oh, Rush is very envious of the wealth and power.

        December 15, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  10. ElmerGantry

    What I don’t understand is why is the pope even responding to the likes of the “all-knowing all-caring El Rushbo” etc? It seems abundantly apparent that the pope is not a Marxist. The pope seems to be expressing that it is unrestrained capitalism and greed that is the problem.


    Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

    Proverbs 28:27Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

    Sure you could have no regulations like the “good ole days” and dump so much toxic material into the Cuyahoga Rive that it caught fire.

    Sure you could lock all emergency escapes resulting in 146 people dying in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

    The pope is calling out the extreme right wing for it’s lack of concern for others. “El Rushbo” and others are all upset that the pope is not the same kind of capitalist that Rush and right wing is.

    No True Scotsman fallacy, anyone!

    Rush and the extreme right wing have a name for their own who are not “true conservatives”; Republicans In Name Only

    So why is the pope even bothering to respond, why is the pope giving more “street cred” to the extreme right wing than the extreme right wing deserves? This response only inflates their already large egos.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • truth

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

      That's who that fr-eak needs to respond to

      December 15, 2013 at 8:55 am |
      • ElmerGantry

        Agreed, but this is an article on the pope, capitalism, and Marx.
        When CNN posts an article on child abuse (which they should), then your comment is well taken.

        December 15, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • diggerjohn99

      Are their egos any larger than the Left Wing politicos who claim they are working for all of us? Like Barry who got the free ride to Harvard, and talks about "economic injustice". I worked two jobs to pay for University and still had loans, Mr. President. Did you ever ACTUALLY work? Or was everything handed to you?

      December 15, 2013 at 9:06 am |
      • ElmerGantry

        Oh, the generalized assumption that because some one who has concern for others they must be so called "free loaders".

        Well for your information I have had a very exciting and well paid job for 30 years now. How about you?

        December 15, 2013 at 9:11 am |
      • mulwillie

        ""economic injustice". I worked two jobs to pay for University and still had loans, "


        The economic justice is not just monetary, it also includes access to education without life long enslaving loans you mention. The ability of power and money to shape the world is enormous. Unfetter it would consume all. That is what the Pope and the President are talking.

        Pure capitalism is a pure money making machine- if there is a way to make higher profits it will go there like a shark loking for food no matter what the collateral damage to a health society or the environment or ....

        December 15, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • ElmerGantry

          Your are exactly right mulwillie. Profit taking is the number one priority for corporations today. It used to be that providing a product or service was the primary goal and happy customers translated into shareholder profits. Today profits reign supreme and making money takes priority over quality, worker pay etc.

          I know, I know this is not true for all corporations, but it is true for most and is true for an increasingly number.

          Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

          December 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  11. pope

    Look at meeeeeeee! I'm humble

    December 15, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • truth

      quite the marketing gimmick. Ever notice the caathoholics who say they love this pope??? Love?? Really?

      They don't even know him. More so, he continues the cover ups of child abuse.

      December 15, 2013 at 8:57 am |
      • FeedLimbaughtoAlligators

        Well, he's more appealing than Limpballs or Newt.

        December 15, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • JJ

      Yeah...and and imbeciles are lapping it up exactly as designed. Meanwhile, children continue to be raped daily in the rectory as it's business as usual in the pedophile infested cult.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  12. IpseCogita

    Of course he is not a Marxist. To be a Marxist you have to be atheist. It is, however, possible to be a communist without being an atheist, and that is a pretty good description of the current bridge builder.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • FeedLimbaughtoAlligators

      Feed all CEOs to alligators.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Michael B

      Wow, your ignorance is astounding! I didn't see anything in the Evangelii Gaudium tha called for living in collectives, which is communiism. So your idiotic labeling is completey with out merit. I can label you though. Your probably a white middle aged money loving protestant, politically conservative, whose been convinced by your wealth embracing corporate evangelical church leaders that money is really good and not the root of all evil. What you dont see, what you wont accept and aknowledge, is how your life style, your food, the clothes you wear, the car you drive the fuel it uses, the TV you watch, the computer you use, the investments you make, are all part of system that treats you generously and hurts others. It's not that you have those things, it's that you are your kind are in denial, living a lie, that your causing sin and destruction for your own benefit. I would rather embrace the criminal who knows he's a criminal, than you, at least they are pure of heart. Where as you are not.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  13. TheTruthIsOutThere

    I wil lnote that he did NOT deny thaat he was a sociaalist, which is more in line with his opinions on capitalism. Marxists generally do not believe in religion.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  14. JLO

    Limbaugh, go live in your bubble and leave the rest of us alone to solve our problems.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • real

      agreed. And the pope needs to answer for crimes against children.

      These two make quite a pair.

      December 15, 2013 at 8:52 am |
      • David

        I did not know that the Pope comitted crimes against children.
        I do know that he recently acted to investigate crimes IN THE PAST in this regard..
        So please explain why you accuse him otherwise....

        December 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  15. pope

    Look at meeeeeeeee!!! I'm humble.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • JJ

      Yeah...and and idiots are lapping it up exactly as designed. Meanwhile, children continue are being raped daily in the rectory as it's business as usual in the pedophile infested cult.

      December 15, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  16. Peter Q Wolfe

    I actually can't wait till the middle class becomes a endangered species or destruction in general. Who are the stooges the economist, jailers or prisoners, atthetic teachers, mechanical engineers, selfish unions, or medicare reciepents? The MIDDLE CLASS not the poor who are treated with such indifference and scape goat the poor for their lavish lifestyle. Yep, I am also talking about my rich sister just like my Aunt the Hell with them...

    December 15, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  17. Rebecca

    The reason why fewer Catholics are going to church is because their local churches are closed!

    December 15, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  18. lester

    Forgive them for they do not know what they do
    Time to come up with another excuse because this one implies their stupid which never will be admited
    The rich belive they all want to get richer
    They also belive the poor want to get poorer.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  19. Humans at their best

    The Pope is a Cathar not a Marxist.

    December 15, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Doug


      ::spoken like Jerry Seinfeld saying "Newman!"::

      December 15, 2013 at 10:39 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.