Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pope Criticizes Capitalism, Maligns Marxism

APARECIDA, Brazil -- In a major speech on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI condemned capitalism and Marxism as "systems that marginalize God" and urged the Latin American clergy to feed people's spiritual hunger as the way to ease poverty and halt the Roman Catholic Church's steady decline in the region.

Speaking to Latin American bishops there for a conference on the church's direction for the next decade, the pope also condemned abortion and contraception and laws that permit them.

The speech was widely anticipated for how Benedict -- on his first visit as pope to the Western Hemisphere -- would tackle issues from poverty and social injustice to the evangelical groups eroding Catholicism in some Latin American countries at a rate of 1 percent per year.

His views were largely consistent with those he held in his earlier life as Joseph Ratzinger, a conservative and contentious cardinal. He was elected pope two years ago.

Just as he, as a cardinal in the 1980s, cracked down on liberation theology, which he viewed as incorrectly emphasizing Christ as a social redeemer, Benedict stressed first proclaiming Christ as the son of God -- even if many of the poor here might like to hear more about social justice.

He raged with equal fire against Marxism and capitalism. By focusing solely on material concerns, he said, they "falsify the notion of reality by detaching it from the foundational and decisive reality, which is God."

"Both capitalism and Marxism promised to point out the path for the creation of just structures, and they declared that these, once established, would function by themselves," he said. "And this ideological promise has proven false."