Pope Francis responded to the Rush Limbaugh controversy that condemned the Pontiff a Marxist after his first Apostolic Exhortation, the “Evangelii Gaudium”, had been published earlier in December. In an interview with La Stampa on Saturday, Pope Francis explained that he referenced the doctrine of the Catholic Church in the Exhortation and although he wasn’t offended by Limbaugh’s critique, he did declare he is not a Marxist.
In an exclusive interview with Andrea Tornielli entitled “Never be Afraid of Tenderness”, the Vatican Insider of La Stampa talked with Pope Francis who explained the importance of Christmas, world hunger, children’s strife, women in the clergy and the Apostolic Exhortation. Praised by the Catholic Church as “reaching out to the Church and the world on every level, the “Evangelii Gaudium” was deeply criticized by Limbaugh and Pope Francis in turn was labeled a Marxist. However, the Pontiff is not offended.
The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.
Pope Francis then went on to defend the Exhortation as relating specifically to the Church’s social doctrine, and detailed the quote that regarded trickle-down economics, yet it doesn’t mean he is a “Marxist.”
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.
Pope Francis’ interview has gained international headlines for the minor reply to Rush Limbaugh, however, the most important message, which discussed Christmas, seems to have been overlooked. When asked what Christmas means to the Holy Father, Pope Francis simply answered, “It is the encounter with Jesus.” He embellished his response, but that one sentence speaks volumes.
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