Communist or Christian? Pope Francis Defends Vatican Report Titled 'This Economy Kills' in Criticism of Global Financial System

(Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile)Pope Francis, who's 78th birthday is today, waves as he leaves at the end of his general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, December 17, 2014.

Pope Francis has said that his continued criticism of the global financial system is not because he supports Communism, but because of Jesus' call for Christians to serve the poor. The Vatican meanwhile is set to publish a report titled "This Economy Kills," highlighting the damage that the world economy brings to impoverished populations.

"Jesus affirms that you cannot serve two masters, God and wealth," Francis said Sunday in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa. "Is it pauperism? No, it is the Gospel."

"Jesus tells us that it is the 'protocol' on the basis of which we will be judged, it is what we read in Chapter 25 of Matthew: I had hunger, I had thirst, I was in prison, I was sick, I was naked and you helped me: dressed me, visited me, you took care of me."

As for accusations that he supports Communism, Francis said: "This attention to the poor is in the Gospel, and in the tradition of the church, it is not an invention of Communism and [we] need not ideologize it, like sometimes happened in the course of history."

The Vatican leader insisted that the Gospel does not condemn the rich, but the idolatry of wealth, which he argues runs the world's financial system and makes people insensitive to the plight of the poor.

The Vatican's report, set to be released on Jan. 13, includes a separate interview with Francis from October 2014.

The Roman Catholic Church leader says that Christians are called to care for the poor and the marginalized, a message he says is an essential part of the Gospel.

"I recognize that globalization has helped many people to lift themselves out of poverty," Francis reflected, "but it has condemned many others to starve."

"It is true that in absolute terms the world's wealth has grown, but inequality has also increased and new [forms of] poverty have arisen," he added.

The pontiff warned that in the throw-away culture of the world, humans are seen as dispensable, while money becomes the object of idolatry.

"[Then] men and women are reduced to mere instruments of a social and economic system characterized, indeed dominated by deep imbalances," the pope said, noting that the throw-away culture also leads to abortion and euthanasia.

Francis has focused on financial inequality throughout his time as pontiff, and back on November 2013, his first major written work denounced the world's "tyrannical" economic system.

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" Francis asked back then.

"This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless."

Reflecting on the future, Francis says in "This Economy Kills" that the situation is not yet irreversible, and people need to act to change global inequality.

The pontiff added that Christians should "try to build a society and an economy where man and his own good, and not money, are at the center."