Pope Francis: Mixing ‘Marxist Concepts’ With Catholic Church Is ‘Ideological Exploitation’

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Pope Francis criticized the “ideological exploitation” of the Catholic Church in an interview with his country’s news agency.

Pope Francis made the comment Friday to Argentina’s national news agency Télam in an interview. Questions and discussions were conducted in the native language of Pope Francis, Spanish.

Asking about the pope’s ten years of service to the papacy and his legacy, the interviewer touched on Pope Francis’ Argentine roots and asked how his Hispanic heritage influenced his reign.

The pontiff praised church history in South America and its unique proximity to people.

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Pope Francis is assisted by his aide, Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza (left), as he walks with a cane to his weekly general audience in St. Petersburg.  Peter's Square in the Vatican, June 1, 2022.

Pope Francis is assisted by his aide, Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza (left), as he walks with a cane to his weekly general audience in St. Petersburg. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, June 1, 2022.
(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, file)

“The Latin American Church has a long history of being close to the people. If we go through the episcopal conferences – first in Medellin, then in Puebla, Santo Domingo and Aparecida – they have always been in dialogue with the people of God,” said Pope Francis. “And it really helped. This is a folk church in the truest sense of the word. This is the church of God’s people.”

However, the pope made a distinction between the proximity of the South American church the people and the political corruption of the church.

“That was changed when people couldn’t express themselves, and it ended up being a church of trail bosses with pastoral agents at the head,” Papa explained. “People started to speak out more and more about their religion, and eventually they became the protagonists of their own story.”

Pope Francis made specific reference to Marxist-inspired “liberation theology,” a socio-religious movement in Latin America that combines communist belief systems with Catholic Church.

Pope Francis arrives in a wheelchair for an audience with nuns and religious figures in the Paul VI Room at the Vatican on May 5, 2022.

Pope Francis arrives in a wheelchair for an audience with nuns and religious figures in the Paul VI Room at the Vatican on May 5, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, file)

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“There have been attempts at ideologization, such as the use of Marxist concepts in the analysis of reality by liberation theology. It was an ideological exploitation, a way of liberation, let’s just say Latin American folk church. But there is a difference between the people and populism,” the Pope said.

The Pope has come a long and difficult path in politics and Catholic theology, criticizing unbridled capitalism and communism as contrary to Christian teaching.

His sympathies for left-wing populist groups in South America have led to accusations of Marxist beliefs.

Pope Francis pronounces the Urbi et Orbi Christmas blessing from the main balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on December 11th. 25, 2021.
(AP Photo / Gregorio Borgia)

Cardinal Joseph Zen, anti-communism activist in Hong Kong who was arrested by the Chinese Communist Party, is a devout supporter of Pope Francis but has openly wondered if the Pope considers communists to be “good guys”.

“Pope Francis comes from South America, where the communists are the good guys, protecting the poor from the oppression of military regimes in collusion with the rich, so he can sympathize with them,” Zen suggested. “He has no direct experience of communists in power, oppressors of peoples.”

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The Pope has for decades opposed liberation theology, criticizing the confusion church theology with politics.

“After the collapse of ‘real socialism’, these currents of thought sank into confusion,” wrote the Pope at the beginning of a 2005 book on the Latin American Church, “incapable of either radical reformulation or new creativity, inertia, even if today there are still those who, as an anachronism, would like to suggest it again.”