(Photo: Reuters/Giampiero Sposito)
Pope Francis, who is often branded as a Marxist due to his criticism of abuse of capitalism, said Sunday that communism has stolen ideas from Christianity, at whose center is the Gospel for the poor.
"I can only say that the communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the centre of the Gospel," the 77-year-old pontiff told Il Messaggero in an interview to mark the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul, according to Reuters.
"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, when asked about a blog post in the Economist magazine that said he sounded like a Leninist when he criticized capitalism and called for radical economic reform.
He referred to Biblical passages about the need to help the poor, the sick and the needy.
The pope also said Karl Marx, the founder of communism, "did not invent anything," according to Agence France Presse.
The Pope also answered a question about the role of women in the Catholic Church, according to Aleteia.
"Women are the most beautiful things that God created," he said. "The Church is woman. Church is a feminine word [in Italian]. One cannot do theology without this femininity. You are right that we don't talk about this enough. I agree that there must be more work on the theology of women. I have said that we are working in this sense."
Last year, Francis told the Italian daily La Stampa: "Marxist ideology is wrong. But in my life I have met a lot of Marxists who are good people, so I do not feel offended."
The pope has earlier said it is heart-breaking that the world today is more concerned about the health of banks than homeless children dying of starvation and cold.
"This is happening today. If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say 'what are we going to do?' but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that's nothing. This is our crisis today," he said last May.
"Today, and it breaks my heart to say it, finding a homeless person who has died of cold, is not news. Today, the news is scandals, that is news, but the many children who don't have food – that's not news. This is grave. We can't rest easy while things are this way," he added.
"A Church that is poor and for the poor has to fight this mentality," the pope went on to say. "We cannot become starched Christians, too polite, who speak of theology calmly over tea. We have to become courageous Christians and seek out those (who need help most)."