Pope Francis carries his crosier after celebrating Mass in the piazza outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 4. The pontiff was making his first pilgrimage as pope to the birthplace of his papal namesake. Photo by Paul Haring/Catholic News Service
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(RNS) Pope Francis, who made headlines in recent weeks by lambasting ‘trickle down” economic theories as unfair to the poor, is shrugging off criticism from political conservatives who dubbed him a Marxist.
“The Marxist ideology is wrong,” Francis told the Turin-based newspaper La Stampa for a story released this weekend. “But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”
Last month Francis created controversy with the release of his first official papal manifesto. Among his “exhortations” was a stern perspective on capitalism. Some, such as radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh blasted it as “pure Marxism.”
But in the interview, the pope pushed back.
“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality,” Francis wrote in November. “Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”
Francis told La Stampa he wasn’t trying to break down technical economic theory, he was just trying to show the results.
“The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor,” Francis told La Stampa. “But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger, nothing ever comes out for the poor. .. 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 Argentine-born pontiff earned a reputation for humility and commitment to the poor long before taking control of the Vatican.
Last week, in choosing Francis as “Person of the Year” Time magazine lauded Francis “for pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs, and for balancing judgment with mercy.”
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