Pope Francis: I’m Not a Marxist

The Pontiff discusses his criticism of capitalism, plans for reform and world suffering

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Alessandra Benedetti / Corbis

Pope Francis defended his recent criticism of capitalism, calling U.S. conservatives’ claims that he’s teaching Marxism incorrect.

The Holy See opened up about his denunciation of capitalism as well as his plans for reform in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa printed Sunday. Francis discounted claims by American radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called the Pope’s church reforms “pure Marxism” after the first apostolic exhortation in November.

“The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” Francis said.

The Argentinian Pontiff expanded on his criticism, saying, “The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefiting 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.”

Francis, who was recently selected as TIME’s Person of the Year, also dismissed speculation that he would announce a female Cardinal.

“Women in the church must be valued, not ‘clericalised,'” he said. “Those thinking about women cardinals are suffering a bit from clericalism.”

Francis turns 77 on Tuesday, just before marking his first Christmas as Pope. He said he also plans to commence the 50th anniversary of Paul VI’s first papal visit to the Holy Land by returning to meet his “brother” Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Constantinople, as his predecessor did in 1964.

The Pontiff also made mention of meeting with the Council of Cardinals, his eight advisers, to discuss reform proposals at their next meeting with him in February. Among the issues will be marriage and divorcees’ exclusion from communion.

“The exclusion of divorced people who contract a second marriage from communion is not a sanction. It is important to remember this.” The Pope added that marriage as a whole would be discussed in the coming months and that many things would be examined in more detail and clarified.

[La Stampa]