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. Missy q

    Look at how many peoples lives have changed after accepting Jesus. The proof is there. There are many lukewarm false Christians and they make us all look bad but there are many true Christians and I'm one who wouldn't be here today without Him. I love you Jesus. Forgive the unbelievers for they don't know no better. Open their hearts so they won't perish.

    December 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Bobpitt

      I met Jesus a few weeks ago, he cleaned up my leafs and also walked my dog, I have to agree with you my life is better after meeting Jesus, I hope the Migra don't get him deported back to Mexico..

      December 15, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  2. DaLe

    Well, if e.g. the hopefully at least around 20-year old "girl" apparently from Asia is completely happy about the arrangement of being a "mad about not being recognized just like that" oldish person's "toy", then if she is legal and with work permit, as well technically capable of making own decisions, then it is one of the materially better off persons it concerns who is basically saying "this is what I want". Nevertheless, if the high earners are sort of just basically decadent, then "what I want" would be in the first place to not be as if dependant on their good-will to keep job, flat, etc. and secondly for them to not really earn that much especially if their "work" would be dismissed by many an expert if they would happen to be as if one step higher in the professional hierachy.

    December 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  3. SDCinNS

    Capitalists split a large pie unequally – Marxists split a sliver of a pie equally. Which helps the poor more?

    December 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Bobpitt

      I have to partially agree with you however the change has to be sustainable, and that is the detail Marxist can't get. a society has to have some incentive, otherwise, society will fail.. the best countries to live in the world are the ones that have a strong safety net, like Australia Canada, etc.. by far not centralized economies..

      December 15, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
      • SDCinNS

        I agree. I've been to Cuba and seen Marxism in action. The poorest person in Canada has it better than 99% of Cubans.

        December 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  4. It's me

    I'm happy to see the Pope is for the poor and the disadvantaged. There is so much corruption in this world today especially in countries like India. People have become demeaning to the poor and trust is not even existent within the family.

    Why can't America do something in these parts of the world using moral of Christianity?

    December 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • STUV

      It should be America's job instead of Christianity's? Why? Christianity is much larger than America.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • SDCinNS

      Because the US has long ago abandoned Christianity.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Bobpitt

      If you are a Christian please do not forget the part that say, don't give them fish, teach them how to fish..

      December 15, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  5. Diane

    All I need to say can be summed up in just a few words. Limbaugh is a loud – mouthed idiot. That's it.

    December 15, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  6. Lana


    December 15, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • someguysarerude

      What is really saddening is that Limbaugh seems to be directly responsible for this response. Since he's not worthy of licking the Pope's shoes, regardless of which Pope, Limbaugh the terd should apologize today.
      When that world class creep be shut up.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  7. Fr33th1nk3r

    Ah yes......conservatives and their little buzz-words. If pressed for more information– the average conservative probably couldn't tell you the difference between "Marxist", "socialist", or "podiatrist", let alone defend their ground intelligently enough to avoid making a fool of themselves in a public forum.
    The Pope should not have even dignified Rush Limbaugh's madness with a serious response.

    December 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      The Pope should have just let Rush's statements stand, as a shining example of GOP stupidity.

      December 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  8. Vic

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    December 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    December 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    Capitalism does not in anyway or fashion prevent charity/giving to the poor, on the contrary, it promotes it. Capitalism promotes private ownership of capital and eating the fruits of own labor while giving to the poor at "free will." That is exactly what Jesus Christ and Christians did/do. Capitalism creates opportunities for individuals to work and earn a living, who in turn, choose to help the poor as per needed. (Now, corruption can happen in the application and/or implementation.)

    On the contrary, Marxism/Communism/Socialism promotes state ownership of capital and leveling the playing field by forcing individuals to pay higher taxes, from which the poor is paid, which in turn, kills opportunities and guarantees poverty for the poor.

    One of the primary precepts of Marxism is to suppress Capitalism by Communism, which is a form of Socialism.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the following story is a prime example of Capitalism vs. Marxism/Communism/Socialism, let alone making a difference. The "$100 handout" represents Marxism/Communism/Socialism while the "offer to code program for computers opportunity" represents Capitalism.


    That story is reminiscent of Ted Williams', the homeless man with a golden voice who was asked to audition and filmed on the spot by a Good Samaritan in Columbus, Ohio.

    God bless America, the Land Of Opportunity and God's Country.

    December 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Stargazer

      Maybe it's your gratuitous use of italics that are causing your posts to go into moderation.
      Maybe it's you spamming, which is against the TOS.
      Maybe it's because you continue to ignore the fact that the Pope isn't Marxist.


      December 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
      • Vic

        I never spammed!

        December 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
        • Vic


          I changed the source of the story from Yahoo to NBC's Today, in case that was filtered as competition.

          December 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Stargazer

      Posting links are considered spam, even though you will never admit it, because you rationalize all of your behavior as being okay.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
      • Stargazer

        And if you don't think of NBC as competition for CNN, you're just not thinking.

        December 15, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • Vic

          I was referring to a Yahoo blog.

          December 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
      • Vic

        A lot of bloggers here post hyperlinks for references all the time.

        December 15, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Shawn

      If you see your posts disappear , post it again. There is a troll here that has been targeting posts by Christians. Ignore the troll and keep posting.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  9. SDCinNS

    The pope promotes marxist ideas while avoiding the label – which is what most marxists do.

    December 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • middle america man

      Usually we just call them Christian ideas, you know, like Jesus Christ? I've noticed most fascists don't like to called fascists either, but if the shoe fits.

      December 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
      • SDCinNS

        Read Acts chapter 5 and educate yourself regarding Christianity and economics. I realize that the catholic church discourages Biblical education – but you should try it anyway.

        December 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
        • middle america man

          I studied economics and history. You should check out a few chapters to learn about what Marxism is and isn't. Additionally, I am willing to take the word of the Pope, with master's degrees in theology, philosophy (and chemistry, go figure) as well as divinity, over some Protestant layman's interpretation of the Bible.

          December 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Ross

      Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.

      December 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  10. Geo Bruno

    Well Floxx and RL were so accurate on W's war and the last election


    December 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
  11. Patrick

    I love this pope mostly because he doesn't conform to the usual media narrative of "left v right" or "liberal v conservative". People heavily invested in the politics of confrontation and outrage will continue to have difficulty understanding a man who eschews both.

    He reminds us that we all need to humble ourselves and care for others with charity and love. News anchors, media darlings, and blowhard talk show hosts have no idea how to respond to that.

    Thank God for Francis.

    December 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  12. theorycraft

    well I think its slightly marxist because he's promoting the use of political power and position to force the lower 25% or maybe even 50% to a middle class style of life. You can encourage people to donate, but you shouldn't make policies which reward the poor for being poor. Capitalists believe in giving people an opportunity to work to raise them from poverty, which rewards both parties... one with money, the other with productivity. Policies should cater to giving fair opportunity and encourage those with superior ability to rise higher than their peers.

    Marx as I understand it, never gives an alternative, just critiques capitalism.

    December 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Not a communist

      "Capitalists believe in giving people an opportunity to work to raise them from poverty"

      That is the biggest load of hogwash I've read in a long time.

      The majority of capitalists don't give a hoot about anyone but themselves and their bank accounts. They simply use money to make more money and laugh at the working man for being so dumb.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
      • HampRegt89

        They believe in maintaining that imagery so they can hold you right on the edge so they get the most work to profit ratio they can out of you while dangling the promise of wealth out of reach. Americans, and non-wealthy Republicans in particular cling to this illusion, because it makes them, as Steinbeck said," temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

        December 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
        • middle america man

          I think free market capitalism is a great thing, we should try it sometime. Of course that would mean thingslike the Fed not pushing us into recession to avoid the free market actually letting middle class people get ahead, as occurred once during the Clinton administration. Yes, the Fed sold the middle class out so that big business could avoid what they termed "wage inflation" aka, the market working like it's supposed to. I love my country but we are being basically lied to – there haven't been any gains made by the average person since 1973. Of course some people can and do get ahead, I'm not denying that. However, America was built on average people being able to work hard and prosper. The game has been rigged against us for more than a generation now, and if you're just a regular hard working person, there will be no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You just get to struggle from here to eternity.

          December 15, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  13. andrew

    Of all 6 billion plus people on the planet, Rush Limbaugh is the least qualified to criticize the Pope or anybody else for that matter. Drug addicted, doctor-shopping, hate mongering felons like LImbaugh have no standing, and the ones who follow his poisonous proclamations, are lemmings of the lowest order of human intelligence, and who can be led about by the loudest criminals in a political mob.

    December 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Michael McCoy

      Here, here!

      December 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  14. Lord Toronaga

    Screw the poor. Not my responsibility. If pope man wants to help the poor, let him transfer the Vatican's money to the great unwashed. Otherwise.... get lost. I don't owe you anything.

    December 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • PortOurTroops

      Fine. Rember what you said when you go broke or need to get bailed out of your loans. Also, don't call yourself Christian or make any such claims when your time is up–or w

      December 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
      • HampRegt89

        Yeah no kidding. I'm not religious myself anymore, but if there is one tenant of Christianity that is completely unmistakable, completely without room for misinterpretation, it's the idea of not living to excess without first taking care of the poor, the sick, the disabled. Maybe this guy isn't religious and that's fine, but if he claims to be, he missed the boat somewhere

        December 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Lord Toronaga

      I only want what I pay for. I pay taxes. I want what the taxes promise. Aside from that ... I do not want ANYTHING from the Catholic Church nor do I plan on giving them anything. I personally plan on living to excess as will my family. I have no feeling of guilt doing so. There is no heaven or hell....there is only the here and now.

      December 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • madrogio

      But we owe you something. And I hope you get it.

      December 16, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  15. John D

    After the "fall" of the Soviet Union, Pope John Paul said the same things Francis is saying, even more forcibly. JPII equed Capitalism with the same evils of communism beause both reduce human beings to mere commodities and/or commodities purchasers. Both have no regard for the supernatural nor for the soul of men. You need only look at what the U.S. has become (and indeed the entire "First World!") EAvery abomination known to man is legal and catered to in one way or another in order to sell things. As another commenter here says, we are forced to pay taxes to support not only the poor but those who want more and more "free stuff." Thus they too contribute to high PROFITS. The redistribution of wealth by govts has nothing to do with caring for the poor. In this country its all about winning elections and keepint the filth in Washington in power.....

    December 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  16. Patrick

    Dear Pope:

    You do not have to respond to Rush Limbaugh. He is a carnival-barking hack who deals in lies and distortions for the pure purpose of garnering ratings and money. You are the POPE.

    December 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Mark


      December 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • SDCinNS

      But.. more of the modern world listens to Rush over the pope.

      December 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  17. jlacke

    All laws are backed by a sincere threat of violence. Without it, they are not laws, they are suggestions. What happens if you do not voluntarily comply with a law? You will be forced to do so; violently, if necessary. What happens if you refuse to pay taxes? Government agents will go to you and collect them. If you refuse to hand the money over? Federal marshals will take you, by force and with guns drawn, to prison. Continue to refuse to comply, and they will shoot you. This is what changes a suggestion to a law – the willingness to use violence to enforce it.

    And this is what liberals have in mind of how charity should be performed. The government will collect taxes from people – against their will if necessary – and redistribute to the needy. Those who don't wish to be taxed for this purpose have no say, and those who refuse to contribute will be imprisoned. If violence is necessary, so be it.

    So, you show me where JC instructed his followers to (1) form a governing body, (2) build prisons, (3) use the governing body to collect taxes from others, whether they agree to it or not, (4) use violence if necessary to collect taxes, (5) imprison those who refuse to comply.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Derrick Nelson

      The Republicans also "collect taxes by force and the threat of imprisonment" The difference is, they give those collected taxes to people already making millions of dollars. I prefer the Democratic way. And Jesus attacked the money lenders (like democrats) – he didn't tell the people to give them all their money (like republicans).

      December 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
      • jlacke

        There's plenty about the phony conservative GOP worth criticizing, but that doesn't address my comment.

        December 15, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • HampRegt89

      I don't have to go that far because, taxes, tax laws, and punishment for failure to comply to those laws existed in Jesus' time. When people asked him if they were exempt because they were loyal to God above the Roman Government, he said, "No" specifically he said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" So you libertarian people who claim to be Christians and yet want to live in this magic self dependent bubble and pay no taxes and be compelled to help no one but yourself, Jesus himself said pay your stinking taxes.

      December 15, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
      • Stargazer


        December 15, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
      • jlacke

        You don't understand the scripture you quoted.

        December 15, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  18. Juan

    Nearly 15,000 Obamacare sign-ups didn't reach insurers

    Enrollment paperwork for nearly 15,000 Obamacare customers who signed up via HealthCare.gov never made its way to insurance companies, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday.

    The disclosure reflects the considerable problems the Obamacare website’s “back end” faced in corresponding with insurers throughout October and November, even as administration officials were working around the clock to improve the website’s “front end” and enable consumers to shop for insurance.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Dina

      BFD. So it's difficult to roll out a huge new federal program. You'd probably stand in line for a 40" TV longer than you'd give getting healthcare. Where is your alternative health care overhaul? What are YOU doing besides being a mouthpiece for an obstructionist GOP?

      December 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
      • Lord Toronaga

        Dina sounds like one of those losers who can't carry their own water. LIBERAL moocher.

        December 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  19. Juan

    Nearly 15,000 Obamacare sign-ups didn't reach insurers

    Enrollment paperwork for nearly 15,000 Obamacare customers who signed up via HealthCare.gov never made its way to insurance companies, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday.

    The disclosure reflects the considerable problems the Obamacare website’s “back end” faced in corresponding with insurers throughout October and November, even as administration officials were working around the clock to improve the website’s “front end” and enable consumers to shop for insurance.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  20. ed dugan

    I don't think much af any pope and think they are totally irrelevant to the real world. As for this little scene, if the pope would share some of the vast wealth of the vatican with the poor he might have something to say. Otherwise he is just another old man who wears dresses and fancy shoes.

    December 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • suppackman

      Yes, they are as irrelevant as the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people (1/6th of the world's population) can be. You, on the other hand, who's own mother records every perfect BM you have ever had, can count on 1 hand your followers. Thank you for proving the saying that opinions are like anuses, everyone has one.

      December 15, 2013 at 5:16 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.