Pope Francis
Pope Francis has his skull cap removed by a child during an audience with children in the VaticanReuters/GIAMPIERO

Taking no offence to being labeled as a Marxist, Pope Francis in an interview to an Italian daily clarified his controversial statement that had fingers raised against him. The Pope also cleared the air about rumours over the possible appointment of women cardinals in Vatican.

The Ultra Conservative critics, such as Rush Limbaugh, had accused Pope Francis of being a Marxist following his strong speech against global economics for worshipping 'god of money.' 

"This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope," Limbaugh had said in his radio show in early December.

In an interview to Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Francis, while taking no offence to the label, made his stance amply clear. The interviewer, Andrea Tornielli, asked the Pope: "Some of the passages in the "Evangelii Gaudium" attracted the criticism of ultraconservatives in the USA. As a Pope, what does it feel like to be called a "Marxist"?"

To which Pope Francis, who was recently selected as TIME's person of the year, replied, "The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don't feel offended."

Futher clarifying his address that prompted the reaction from the Conservaties in US, Pope said: "The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the "trickle-down theories" which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church's social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist."

Off late there has been an increased debate in Vatican for bringing in a women cardinal, and rumours were abuzz that Pope Francis might be considering it as well. However, in the same interview, Pope Francis rejected the claims. "I don't know where this idea sprang from. Women in the Church must be valued not "clericalised". Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism," he said.