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. skepticker

    To say Jesus was a socialist is to deny what Jesus said: "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Socialism requires that everything be rendered unto Caesar, with the trust that Caesar will do God's will with it. That is certainly not the way of Jesus. Here's what Pope Leo XIII said in Rerum Novarum, specifically about socialism:
    To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man's envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community.
    Socialism, for Catholics, is not the way of Jesus. I would also be careful not to confuse capitalism with corporatism. The latter is currently practiced in the US, and it bears little resemblance to capitalism.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  2. Mary

    The Pope is right. The rich get richer due to policies of governments, good luck and innovation. However, policies by government should benefit all equally and that means that the poor should be helped even if it costs the rich some of their wealth through taxes or less friendly giveaway policies. Jesus supported this type of policy as indicated in his teaching per the Bible.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • SDCinNS

      Would you please quote the Bible verses you believe support this position.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  3. Meta Shepherd

    Whenever I hear the names "Rush" or "Grover, I shout to my husband: "Who are these nobodys, and why does anyone listen to them?!" He calmly explains that they are extortionists, sort of like the Mafia. So be it. I am far from being Catholic, but I welcome a warm, caring person of influence into the world. Go Pope!!

    December 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  4. Commy lovah

    Pope is a marxist because he isn't taking the money from the rich like his predecessors. Now that scares the rich. Remember the part about how its easier for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle? Not if Sarah Pailin can help it.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  5. Joe H

    Jesus was a socialist.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • SDCinNS

      Hardly. The Lord was never concerned about the politics of the day.

      December 15, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
  6. Doug

    Limbaugh vs. the Pope. Limbaugh is darkly shrewd, sometimes clever–in the sense that he can play to the more base qualities of his listeners and motivate them quite effectively to accept his spin, hook, line and sinker.

    But Limbaugh is at the same time not the sharpest knife in the drawer–and of course he's better understood to be entertainment, albeit of a base nature.

    Accusing the Pope of being Marxist is really just a small step away from accusing any other enemy of the same, as has been done by the Right to Obama ad infinitum. Those who don't know any better eat it up.

    If the Pope is Marixist for the comments he made, then Christ is Marxist. Christianity is Marxist. Charity is Marxist and quite possibly, Love itself is Marxist.

    We'd be a lot further along if we let go of this tired, long-overplayed and vastly misunderstood fascination with socialism, communism, etc. that the Right continues to relish.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  7. glauber

    Why does the Pope even owe anyone any sort of response to all this "Marxist" crap? ONE GUY- Rush Limbaugh said it, and a handful of fantastically ignorant Americans glommed onto his comment and started parroting it.

    Of course it was an American who said it. This is part of why fewer and fewer people around the world take us seriously.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  8. Carl

    This pope shows a clear lack of understanding of not only capitalism and free markets, but he also exhibits a naïve sense of politics.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • maximusvad

      Jesus said it was a sin to charge interest...so if you believe capitalism is good then you don't believe in the word of Jesus.

      December 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Michael SC

      Rush = drug-addict, several times divorces. He is absolutely not a Christian and does not live by the word of god. He lives by the word of GREED

      December 15, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • UncleBenny

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

      I'd say the Pope understands capitalism quite well, at least as it's actually practiced.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  9. dan ro

    I was hoping he was!!!.. .JESUS WAS A SOCIALIST!!!1

    December 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • ed dugan

      I assume you have met Jesus, talked to him about economic theories and now know everything there is to know about him.Your ignorance is appalling!!!

      December 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Gigiastro

      Nah! Jesus was a social-democrat.

      December 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  10. Crusader

    ...but you sure act like a Marxist!! Shame on you.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  11. Balthazaar

    What is a Catholic conservative to do? The Pope says their entire way of life is against the word of God. But their lord and savior rushbo has their back.........

    December 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  12. Steve Morgan

    I am not Catholic and I agree with the Pope. Humans do indeed worship money and it is idolatry. The part I don't understand though is the Catholic church is the undisputed champion of every form of idolatry known to man... so the hypocrisy of his statement is truly astounding and it's amazing he would even bring up the subject of idolatry in the first place.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  13. a con

    pope and rush are the same. Both con men.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  14. Geo Bruno

    So the guyn who said

    Give your wealth to the poor


    The rich man camel eye of needle thingee is a conservative

    December 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Balthazaar

      What gains a man who has the world yet loses his soul?

      The meek shall inherit the earth for theirs is the kingdom of God

      That which you do to the least of my children you do unto me

      A nation shall be judged by the way it treats the widow and the orphan

      A man lay on the side of the road....the "good" people walked by him and turned away their eyes.. But a Samaritan (the most scorned group in ancient Judea) took the man to get shelter and food and nursed him to health...

      December 15, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  15. Balthazaar

    Look, the Pope is taking a selfie! Call up fox right now and let them know of this outrage!

    December 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  16. Cerati Claudio

    You must really know that Marxism doesn´t recognize even the exitence of God so, there´s no possibility of Pope Francis being a "Marxist". Why don´t you look about politics and the decisión of president Obama to quit the US embassy at Vatican .
    He will probably be loosing votes , don´t you think?

    December 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Balthazaar

      They did not close the Vatican embassy. They moved it to a building that is both more secure and closer to the Vatican. Might want to check up on the things you hear from right wing blogs and fox before repeating them.

      December 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  17. Deez

    Since when does caring about the needy mean being communist?

    What good are morals if you can't even care for those in need?

    December 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  18. Balthazaar

    Oh....and the Pope obviously is far more educated about economics than anyone on the political right. Only a real fool would still cling to the supply side, trickle down nonsense that paul ryan and the rest of the gop still try to pretend is a viable economic theory.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  19. Dano

    Though the Pope may feel his comments are not wrong his belief pattern surely depicts the theology of socialist marxism. This is due to the influence he had from upbringing in latin america which how the believe in a socialistic philosophy.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Balthazaar

      You wear your ignorance like a flag, a big bright red one, if you mistake his statements for marxism or socialism.

      December 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  20. Jennifer

    Good Lord, don't respond to Limbaugh Pope Francis! Nobody cares what Limbaugh says and you are only feeding his ego. Even Limbaugh doesn't care about what he says. He only makes shocking statements for ratings and $.

    December 15, 2013 at 3:58 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.