On flight to U.S., Pope Francis says he's no left-winger

Story highlights

  • Pope Francis says I "may have given the impression of being a little more to the left, but it would not be a correct interpretation"
  • Before arriving in the United States, he spent four days in communist Cuba

(CNN)This just in: Yes, the Pope is still Catholic.

Aboard the papal plane bound for the United States on Tuesday, a journalist asked Pope Francis about perceptions that his Catholic bona fides are in question, mainly because of his sharp critiques of capitalism.
The Pope said he "may have given the impression of being a little more to the left, but it would not be a correct interpretation."
    "My doctrine ... this is the social doctrine of the Church. Nothing more, nothing less," he said.
    "And if I have to recite the Credo, I will do it," he added with a laugh, referring to the Christian statement of belief.
    Pope Francis arrives in United States
    Pope Francis arrives in United States

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      Pope Francis arrives in United States

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    Pope Francis arrives in United States 01:07
    Tuesday is Francis' first night in the United States and the first time he has stepped foot in the country. His visit ends Sunday and also includes stops in New York and Philadelphia.
    Defending his views in a brief news conference aboard the papal plane, Francis said that his positions on economics, Western imperialism and the environment come from the social doctrine of the Catholic Church.
    Before landing in Washington on Tuesday, the Pope spent four days in Cuba, holding Masses with huge crowds and meeting with Raul and Fidel Castro, leaders of the communist country.
    During his homilies and public speeches, Francis largely avoided criticizing his communist hosts, making only veiled remarks about the lack of religious freedom and opportunity for the Catholic church to carry out its mission in Cuba.
    Asked why his criticism wasn't harsh, the Pope said "I haven't been soft."
    "The speeches I gave in Cuba were always following the doctrine of the Church," he said.
    In a Tuesday morning Mass, Francis referenced religious suppression after the Revolution.
    "The soul of the Cuban people ... was forged amid suffering and privation which would not suppress the faith," he said. That faith was kept alive by those who fostered "the presence of the Father who liberates, strengthens, heals, grants courage and serves as a sure refuse and the sign of a new resurrection," the Pope said.
    Francis also said he did not plan to specifically mention the embargo in his address to Congress.