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December 2nd, 2013
11:29 AM ET

Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Pope Francis:  Successor to St. Peter ... the people's pontiff ... Marxist?

That's what conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh suggests, calling the Pope's latest document "pure Marxism."

Limbaugh blasted the pontiff on Wednesday, a day after Francis released "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), a 50,000-word statement that calls for church reform and castigates elements of modern capitalism.

Limbaugh's segment, now online and entitled "It's Sad How Wrong Pope Francis Is (Unless It's a Deliberate Mistranslation By Leftists)," takes direct aim at the pope's economic views, calling them "dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong."

The Vatican issued the English translation of "Evangelii," which is known officially as an apostolic exhortation and unofficially as a pep talk to the worlds 1.5 billion Catholics.

Francis - the first pope ever to hail from Latin America, where he worked on behalf of the poor in his native Argentina warned in "Evangelii" that the "idolatry of money" would lead to a "new tyranny."

The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

READ MORE: Pope Francis: No more business as usual

The Pope's critique of capitalism thrilled many liberal Catholics, who have long called on church leaders to spend more time and energy on protecting the poor from economic inequalities.

But Limbaugh, whose program is estimated to reach 15 million listeners, called the Pope's comments "sad" and "unbelievable."

"It's sad because this pope makes it very clear he doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth."

In fact, Argentina was a battlefield between leftist socialists and right-wing security forces during much of Francis' early career in the country, where he was a Jesuit priest and later archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Limbaugh, who is not Catholic, said he admires the faith "profoundly."  He admired Pope Francis as well, "up until this," Limbaugh said.

The talk show host also said that he has made numerous visits to the Vatican, which he said "wouldn't exist without tons of money."

"But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," Limbaugh added. "This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope."

Limbaugh took particular issue with the Pope's criticism of the "culture of prosperity," which the pontiff called a "mere spectacle" for the many people who can't afford to participate.

"This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets," Limbaugh said. "He says that the global economy needs government control."

"I'm not Catholic, but I know enough to know that this would have been unthinkable for a pope to believe or say just a few years ago," Limbaugh continued.

In fact, Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, could be just as strong a critic of capitalism.

In 2009, Benedict, in an official church document called an encyclical, said there was an urgent need for "a political, juridical and economic order" that would "manage the global economy."

As Limbaugh notes, Benedict's predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, was a noted foe of communism, after living under its oppressions in his native Poland. But even John Paul thought that unregulated capitalism could have negative consequences.

In "Evangelii," Francis called for more of a spiritual and ethical revolution than a regulatory one.

"I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: `Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs,'" said Francis, quoting the fifth-century St. John Chrysostom.

Liberal Catholics defended Pope Francis on Monday, calling on Limbaugh to apologize and retract his remarks.

"To call the Holy Father a proponent 'pure Marxism' is both mean-spirited and naive," said Christopher Hale of the Washington-based Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. "Francis's critique of unrestrained capitalism is in line with the Church's social teaching."

Limbaugh is not the only conservative commentator to take issue with the Pope's views on capitalism.

READ MORE: Sarah Palin 'taken aback' by Pope Francis's 'liberal' statements

“I go to church to save my soul," said Fox News' Stuart Varney, who is an Episcopalian. "It’s got nothing to do with my vote. Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics.”

It doesn't sound like the criticism is slowing Francis down, however. He's started sending a Vatican contingent, including the Papal Swiss Guards, into Rome to deliver food and charity.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Ethics • Media • Money & Faith • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis

soundoff (6,695 Responses)
  1. olga

    can anyone say PAPAL INFALLIBILITY? For those of you who are not Catholic, it's one of our dogmas. Therefore, criticizing the Pope for his words it is not only ridiculous, it goes AGAINST our beliefs.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Theseus

      Never mind the ridiculous subjugation you put on yourselves by believing in something as asinine as Papal "infallibility". How many innocents have been murdered by the church in response to a past Pope's "infallibility"?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
      • Jack Woodburn

        It includes all religions. Let's not forget the Crusades nor even the most Troubles period between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Protestants are no better historically.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • j pasqualin

      A pope is considered "infallible" only in matters of faith. This is a matter of social opinion, therefore his words are not infallible

      December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  2. dun88888

    Rush, as the GOP spokesperson, is delivering the message that the Republican Party doesn't want any practicing Catholics as members.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  3. Fact_Feed

    Limbaugh is "ACCURATELY" portraying the Republican GOP Tea Party view.

    Anyone who talks about "giving to others" or "helping others" is perceived by the political right as being "pinko-commie Marxists." Christ, St. Francis, Mother Theresa – they're all "pinko-commie Marxists" as the Republican GOP Tea Party fanatics see it.

    That's why Dems see them as depraved, demented misanthropes. My guess would be that the vast majority of the Republican GOP Tea Party fanatics and misanthropes would be diagnosed as "Bi-polar" if they ever had the gumption to visit a psychiatrist

    December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  4. Norm

    Separation of Church and State!!!

    Unless, of course, the Church says I should have more of someone else's money.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  5. Carlos

    Poor man, Rush. He just can't see it.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  6. rino

    Rush, hush – hush, no one will take away your guns or money. You can keep it. You can take it with you when you die.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  7. Gerald Winter

    The US strength in the twentieth came from the strong middle class which was the vast majority of Americans. As the middle class shrinks and the poverty grows it becomes obvious that America is not #1 and hardly anything besides military strength. Monopolies are becoming the norm and the wealthy are becoming ultra wealthy. With the conservative Supreme court allowing wealthy individuals to control elections, it easy to see us becoming a nation of powermongers and not one man one vote. Go Pope! Down with Rush whose power seems to be filled with hatred.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  8. Tiny Tina

    Long live the liberal Jesuit pope! It's about time people started to realize that Jesus is liberal, too.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  9. Craig

    So did Jesus. What's your point?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  10. Atheist Libertarian

    Religion expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding religious power

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  11. Love&All

    Sorry crazy Christians but God doesn't care about Rush Limbaugh, Pope Francis or 21st century currency.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  12. Agape

    Where's the love, Rush? I dare you to give up 24 hours of your wealthy, comfortable life, and spend voluntarily spend it in the worst poverty-stricken villages. Could you get it around you mind that Marxism has nothing to do with suffering and misery? It's only a theory never proven. Shame on you, Rush, and more to shame to CNN to put his thoughtless remarks on Headline News. This "news" belongs in the bathroom.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  13. Neo

    Rush Limbaugh.. next pointiff!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  14. ThomasR

    A commie Pope. Obama must love him.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  15. Joe

    Whatever, Rush. You're just a blow-hard. Take a few more Oxycontin and it will all be ok.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Pat

      Bang you gums and not participate. If you can not speak to the topic, be quiet.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  16. T

    I pray for MikeOnABike......for his mind and spirt has been WARPED by the extreme right wing of American politics

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  17. comedyclub

    Please don't publish Pope's picture next to such a low life.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  18. badley

    Rush is the "Anti-Christ", I expect him to say that

    December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  19. common tater

    rush leaves himself an out, saying the liberal media may have distorted the pope's message. in other words, rush hasnt actually read it. oh well, it will bump up his ratings.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  20. Koltok1357

    Rush and Sarah should actually read the Bible, instead of just using it as a cudgel. Both the Torah ["Old" testament] and the Greek "New" testament are filled with socialist concepts.

    This "Ayn Rand" pseudo-Christianity based on social Darwinism and dog-eat-dog fascism is a whole new invention growing out of John Birch Society and Phyllis Schlafly schools of racist mythology.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.