10/01/2014 11:40 am ET Updated Oct 01, 2014

Paul Ryan: Pope Francis Is For The Free Market, Against 'Crony Capitalism'

Paul Ryan's support of the free market system does not conflict with his Catholic faith, the congressman told HuffPost Live on Tuesday.

During a conversation about his book The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea, Ryan explained that "lay people in public life" such as himself must discern how to interpret Catholic principles in a practical way, which is how he's formed his economic platform.

"Some people say that, 'Gosh, you cut spending and you're cutting programs and you're balancing the budget -- that for some reason conflicts with your faith.' Far from it," Ryan said. "It is my exercise of my prudential judgement in fulfilling what I think is in the best interest of people."

Host Marc Lamont Hill asked Ryan about some of Pope Francis' comments on capitalism in The Joy Of The Gospel, which seems to question the effectiveness of the free market and includes passages like this:

[S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.

Ryan said that the free market itself is not what the pope takes issue with.

"I think he's down with a free market that means more participation. I think what he's [against] is crony capitalism ... where the powerful pick the winners and losers [and] influencing government gets to decide who wins and who loses in the marketplace," Ryan said.

The congressman also had high praise for the pope's attempt to get Catholics thinking about political issues.

"I love this pope. I'm a big fan of this pope. What he's trying to do is he's trying to invite lay Catholics into public policy, into a debate," Ryan said. "He's not trying to settle the debate. He's trying to start the debate."

See Paul Ryan's comments on Pope Francis in the clip above, and click here for the full HuffPost Live conversation.

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