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. Tutuvabene

    The Pope should invite Limbaugh for a private audience to discuss Marxism. Would be interesting to see what happens.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  2. Fish

    Limbaugh has a habit of calling people names regardless of the facts. The Pope's remark was more about unregulated capitalism which is nothing but pure greed!!! I agree with the Pope that capitalism has a tendency to promote greed instead of fairness, that's a fact!!!

    December 15, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  3. Geo Bruno

    What will RL and his followers do when some dark skinned Middle east guy with no papers, shows up and tells them to give their wealth to the poor and follow him

    Any ideas

    December 15, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • ?

      He will beseech the Bush's (the real ones not the talking/burning kind) to nuke the mother or put him on a plane back to the middle east, the oil thingy, you know.

      December 15, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • gary myers

      They will whimper a little but will follow him cause that is their destiny

      December 15, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  4. Willa45

    Rush knows that Marxism has a notoriously dark history. So, what better way to discredit the Pope than to label him a "Marxist" for preaching what is actually Social Justice and Social Responsibility? It's one thing to confiscate someone's wealth against their will.... , it's another thing to advocate voluntary compassion and generosity towards those who are less fortunate.

    With regard to Capitalism, I don't think Capitalism even exists anymore What we have now no longer has a name. It's an enormous economic system that eludes adequate regulation or control because it now breaches many geographic/cultural boundaries. With the onset of globalization, Global Capitalism is for the most part, operating unfettered. Without the adequate checks and balances, the end result may well end up swallowing everyone whole.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:54 am |
  5. rom2894

    clearly, the Pope is another under-educated Latino who should stay out of areas they no nothing about. Economics would be a good start. Why someone who has only undergone a religious upbringing would think they should expound on economic theories is mind boggling.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • John

      clearly you are an under educated racist

      December 15, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • sigmundfreud

      Nice try. You may disagree with his theology, but he has 1000 times more brain power, knowledge, and experience than you have. And he has history on his side. Or do you really think that a leader should keep quiet when multi-billionaires are shafting the rest of us so that maybe they can become trillionaires!

      Too bad that you are an undereducated clown.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • SMW

      And we all know that fat, lying, junkie Limbaugh knows all about economics.

      December 15, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • sandy

      Really! You do not even know the difference between "no" and "know" but that did not stop you from lecturing others in a public forum! Funny, how people with little understanding of their own feel empowered enough to comment on others! I think there is a name for such people ... is it ignorant, imbecile, nincompoop, ... I don't know!

      December 15, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • marsilius

      You seem to have an inaccurate and incomplete conception of Rev. Bergoglio's (Pope Francis's) scholarly background. Many ethicists do study economics as part of their necessary education, and Francis is no exception to that generality.

      December 15, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • gary myers

      And Rush is a highly educated economist?I'm not for sure but I don't think he made it past the second semester of college.Josef Goebels probably would have wanted to honor him with an honorary Doctorate.I would agree if it were a degree in Bull S–t.

      December 15, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  6. Gary

    Rush should know; he's the master of not knowing what he's talking about.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  7. Geo Bruno


    So the guy who said amassing wealth is bad

    The rich are not getting into the kingdom of heaven

    Take care of the least of us

    Is not a Marxist

    Alrighty then

    December 15, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • leelanau

      When exactly has a Marxist Leninist government taken care of the least of their "people"?

      December 15, 2013 at 10:54 am |
      • Geo Bruno

        Tell us why our infant mortally rate is #34, even behind Cuba

        While the countries with the lowest are the most socialist.

        December 15, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • lean6

      Are you talking about Jesus? I'm confused.

      December 15, 2013 at 11:00 am |
      • Geo Bruno

        Yes the real one

        Not RL's

        December 15, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • scramopolis

      You mean Jesus?

      December 15, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  8. mulwillie

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


    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 about.

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

    December 15, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  9. John Gault

    The biggest problem with the Right is everything is black and white. If you're unemployed you're lazy. If you're gay you're going to hell. The Pope bemoaned the ill effects of "unfettered capitalism", not capitalism. He is not a Marxist, he just sees problems with unchecked capitalism and a world (nation?) where corporations run the government.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • bacbik

      Pretty good points in three sentences. As Professor Terguson said in Back to School, "I'm gonna be watching you"...

      December 15, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  10. rom2894


    December 15, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • rom2894

      It is very simple folks....the Pope is a Marxist. Ironically the Catholic church has and is one of the biggest capitalist in all the world.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  11. Syed Nasiruddin Peerzada


    December 15, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  12. Seattle Sue

    Pope: Good luck on making the radical right wing believe that you are not a Marxist. It is so hard to make them believe any normal thing.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  13. PeterC

    Oh what is Senator Cruz to do? Stand by his leader the pope, or stand by his real leader, Rush Limbaugh?

    December 15, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  14. Econ302

    I don't understand where this false idea of Marxism came from.

    There is a far cry from saying we should care about the welling of our fellow man including those in poverty, and saying we should have a Central Planned Economy.

    I'm not catholic and the Pope doesn't mean anything to me, but his point isn't that the State should decide how we spend our money, his point is we should strive to be more altruistic which is directly in line with capitalist philosophy.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • John

      Don't bother bringing facts into the discussion when mere name-calling will do.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • leelanau

      The Pope does mean very much to me, but your words are still accurate in my book.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  15. Geo Bruno

    Well I think this pope is heading in the right direction

    Perhaps he will sell his art treasures/graven images next and give the money to those who need it

    December 15, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  16. allenwoll

    I love Rush Limbaugh - He has done SO much to HINDER the Conservative cause ! !

    December 15, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • rom2894

      it is very simple....the Pope is a marxist. Ironically historically the Catholic church is perhaps the biggest capitalist in all of history.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  17. Geo Bruno

    IF Jesus showed up at congress and read them the Sermon on the Mount

    What would they start yelling at him

    It begins with a M

    December 15, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  18. ?

    The RCC missionaries in Africa exchange aid for land. Outside of governments the largest holder of real estate in the world is the Vatican and its dioceses, jesus, the bling bishop in Germany spent $41 million to fix up his digs, while the aid sent to the Philippines was a pittance in comparison. Shows were the priorities are.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Geo Bruno

      I know I know

      But he seems to be trying.

      I for one would be very impressed if he sold off the art treasures/graven images and did the right thing with the $

      December 15, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  19. mxx

    The primary conceit of the criticism in this article is that Rush Limbaugh criticized the Pope. Why does ANYONE care at this point what Rush says? He has zero credibility at this point and nothing he says is newsworthy. He is not a reliable source of information, so why should CNN be reporting on whatever blowhard doomsaying comes out of his mouth?

    December 15, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  20. Peter Q Wolfe

    Why should anyone believe in God? Seems just from a commonsense pov that it left us to fend for ourselves. No such being cares or would care for lower lifeforms of many such beings under its domain. Its beyond egotistical for humans to think such a being exist in the first place. Surprisingly this imaginary friend espousedd is just an excuse for inaction like natural disasters or unexplainable phenemenon instead of researching it by being productive. Ultimately religiousity is intellictual laziness at its finest and at its worse is apathy to strive for a better world within our lifetimes and thos of our offspring after us.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • dev

      we have to believe in God because life is meaningless without him.The level of consciousness for all living things corresponds to the level of complexiity of their brain structure and contents(neurons) and other biological structures.The dogs and cats for example has limited awareness ,tru the mark test,they can only recognize other animals but not themselves in front of a mirror,The higher apes,chimps,and gorillas can recognize themselves.all other lower animals cant.all normal humans of course recognize ourselves and more.The recognition of a higher intelligent powerfull being is unique ,special attribute to man,our specie.Since the degree of human brain complexity and intelligence varies and unique to every
      person his capability to concieved higher powers is also relative.(i am not implying that idiots cannot concieve God)

      December 15, 2013 at 11:03 am |
      • sam stone

        your life is meaningless without god?

        i sure hope this is sarcasm

        December 15, 2013 at 12:01 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.