Pope Francis says communists are closeted Christians who have appropriated the Bible’s central message of poverty.
The 77-year-old pontiff has often attacked the global economic system as being insensitive to the poor, which has caused critics to label him a Marxist.
In an interview with Il Messaggero, Rome’s local newspaper, the pope was asked about a blog post in the Economist magazine that said he followed Vladimir Lenin in adopting an “ultra radical line” on capitalism.
“I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag,” Francis responded, Reuters reported. “The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the center of the Gospel.”
“Communists say that all this is communism. Sure, twenty centuries later. So when they speak, one can say to them: ‘but then you are Christian’,” he said, laughing.