I have neglected the problems of the middle classes, Pope Francis admits
Pope Francis has conceded that he spends too much time focusing on the poor while ignoring the concerns of the middle-class, offering an olive branch to conservative Catholics who fear he is too radical.
The Pope was asked why he had rarely spoken of hard-working, tax-paying families, instead concentrating on the marginalised and the poverty-stricken.
"You're right. It's an error of mine not to think about this," he said. "The world is polarised. The middle class becomes smaller. The polarisation between the rich and poor is big. This is true. And, perhaps, this has led me to not take account of this [the problems of the middle class]."
The Pope said he concentrated on the poor because they were so numerous, but that ordinary working people had "great value".
The conciliatory remarks may have been aimed at Americans who have viewed his criticism of globalisation and capitalism with alarm.
Pope Francis will make his first official visit to the United States in September, visiting Philadelphia, addressing a joint session of Congress in Washington and delivering a speech to the UN in New York.
Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talk show host, has described the Pope's views on the global economy as "pure Marxism".
Leading Republicans rejected his encyclical on the threat posed to the planet by global warming and unfettered economic development when it was published last month.
Jeb Bush, who is campaigning for the presidency, said the Pope should not have drawn a clear link between economic development and climate change.
"I don't get my economic policy from my bishops, or my cardinals, or my Pope," said Mr Bush.
During a question and answer session on his way back from his tour of South America, the Pope said he was willing to open a dialogue with Americans who disagreed with his warnings over capitalism.
"I heard that there were some criticisms from the United States. I haven't had time to study this well, but every criticism must be received, studied and then dialogue must follow," he said.
On his election in 2013, the Pope spoke of his desire to create "a poor Church for the poor" and he has frequently castigated modern capitalism for causing unemployment, social despair and harm to the environment.
During his eight-day tour of Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, he described the "unfettered" pursuit of money as "the dung of the devil."
Evo Morales, Bolivia's socialist president, presented the Pope with a sculpture featuring the body of Christ nailed to a hammer and sickle.
It was a replica of a sculpture designed by a Jesuit priest who was tortured and killed by Bolivian paramilitary squads in 1980.
The Pope also denied reports that he had drunk a tea made of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine.
It was reported that on the plane from Ecuador to Bolivia, he drank a concoction of coca leaves, camomile and aniseed to combat the effects of altitude sickness. (© Daily Telegraph, London)