In an exclusive interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa published today, Pope Francis told Vatican insider Andrea Tornielli that not only is he not a Marxist, but that Marxism is wrong (something a well-catechized Catholic should know), and we learned that Pope Francis may not be the social liberal that many in the secular press are making him out to be. The Pope responded directly to allegations by some in the conservative press, particularly in the United States, that he has Marxist tendencies by sharply repudiating the notion. “The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” the Pope said.
“There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church," Francis continued, explaining his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. "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.”
The two biggest internal questions seeming to plague Francis' pontificate in recent weeks are the question of whether devorcees who have been civilly remarried would be able to receive Holy Communion, and the bizarre notion that a woman might be elevated to the College of Cardinals and ordained. On the first question, the Pope was keen to remind Catholics that barring civilly remarried people who do not have an annulment is not a matter of official sanction. “The exclusion of divorced people who contract a second marriage from communion is not a sanction. It is important to remember this," Francis reminded, referring to the reality that the reason Holy Communion is forbidden under those circumstances is because a person is living in a marital relationship with someone other than their legitimate spouse.
The idea of elevating a woman to the College of Cardinals earned a very quick rebuff from the Pope. “I don’t know where this idea sprang from. Women in the Church must be valued, not clericalised. Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism,” the Pope said, responding to rumors in the secular press that he would elevate a woman to the sacred college that elects popes and helps govern the Church, which would require a woman to be ordained.