In an interview published Saturday in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, the head of the Catholic Church responded to claims by conservatives like Rush Limbaugh who called him a “pure marxist” for his recent condemnation of trickle-down economics. Standing by his humbling words, the pope explained that he does not identify as a Marxist, and though he finds Marx’s theories to be “wrong,” he is not offended by the name calling. Time magazine’s Person of the Year continues to emphasize how important the well-being of his community is, which is increasingly jeopardized by greed. When asked about the portion of the Exhortation that discusses an economy that “kills,” the pontiff responded as follows:

There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. 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 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 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.

Limbaugh’s inflammatory comments claimed someone had written the Exhortation for the pope or has “gotten to him” because someone so admired for his rejection of gay marriage and abortion couldn’t possibly call capitalism tyrannical. But, as the Daily Kos points out:

Limbaugh and Pope Francis could not be more diametrically opposed when it comes to issues of money and poverty. Whereas Francis has been known to don “regular priest” duds and sneak out of the Vatican to minister to the homeless, Rush Limbaugh thinks poor kids should eat from dumpsters during summer break–ain’t no such thing as a goddamned free lunch.

As for the rest of conservatives who are going bonkers over Pope Francis’ well-founded arguments about capitalism and its perpetuation of destitution, wake up and smell the papal coffee: This pontiff will not be deceived by the glistening facade of trickle-down economics, nor will he be shaken by accusations from reactionaries determined to strip poor people of what little rights they’ve got left. And, according to the Bible and all it preaches, it’s safe to say the pope’s got Jesus on his side.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

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