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Pope Francis Hits Back At The Economist Over Lenin Column

30/06/2014 16:29 BST | Updated 30/06/2014 16:59 BST

Communists are actually closet Christians, whose message on poverty echoes the Gospel, Pope Francis has said.

The leader of the Catholic Church made the remarks in Rome’s Il Messaggero newspaper: “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.

”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'.”

pope francis

Pope Francis, left, celebrates a mass where he bestowed the Pallium, a woolen shawl symbolizing their bond to the pope

He was responding to a column in the Economist, which accused him of following Lenin by his constant critiques of capitalism.

“By positing a link between capitalism and war, he seems to be taking an ultra-radical line: one that consciously or unconsciously follows Vladimir Lenin in his diagnosis of capitalism and imperialism as the main reason why world war broke out a century ago,” The Economist said.

The Argentinian pontiff has not been backward in his criticism of global inequality, calling it the "root of social evil" in a tweet in April.

And during a speech to UN. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of major UN agencies the following month, Francis said a more equal form of economic progress can be had through "the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society."

Earlier this year, in his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace in January, he called for sharing of wealth and for nations to shrink the gap between rich and poor, more of whom are getting only "crumbs".

"The grave financial and economic crises of the present time ... have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy," he said.

"The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles," he said.