Marx 'did not invent anything' says Pope Francis
Pope Francis leads a mass for the imposition of the Pallium upon the new metropolitan archbishops and the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, 2014 at St Peter's basilica in Vatican - by Vincenzo Pinto
Commenting on suggestions in the media that his world view is not dissimilar to communist ideology, the pope responded that it was the church that got there first.
"The communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian. The poor are at the heart of the Gospel," he said in an interview published on Sunday.
He cited the Beatitudes, the opening verses of the Sermon on the Mount, as an example of where Christianity had influenced communism.
"The communists say that all this is communism. Yeah, right, twenty centuries later. So one can say to them: 'but then you are Christian,'" the pope said while laughing, according to the interview in Rome daily Il Messaggero.
Since assuming the papacy in March last year, Francis has established himself as a global voice on the side of the dispossessed with his critique of unfettered capitalism -- earning the label of "Marxist" from conservative commentators in the United States.
It is a label he has frequently rejected.
"Marxist ideology is wrong," he said in an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa last year. "But in my life I have met a lot of Marxists who are good people, so I do not feel offended."
Also in Sunday's interview, the Argentinian pope said that he was not supporting any team in the World Cup, currently underway in Brazil.
"I promised the president of Brazil (Dilma Rousseff) to remain neutral," he was quoted as saying.