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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

(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. George

    That's right Rush. Go after anyone who speaks out about the injustices bestowed upon the poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  2. truth

    God looks upon religion and says: i didn't established this!!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Which god and which religion? And please don't say, "the one true god," because no one agrees on this across religions.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  3. CommonSensed

    Psst. Limbaugh…your Jesus would have also preached what you consider to be Marxism. Jesus wasn't a right-wing tea bagger.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • AlbaMN

      Quite right.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  4. Dead Like Me 74

    Rush is right – because you can’t celebrate the birth of Jesus without trampling, pummeling and pepper spraying your fellow man for a chance at an 84 inch TVs @ $250 – that's what capitalism is all about Charlie Brown.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  5. Wishing I were Jamie Lynn Grumet's little man

    one word of salvation for you Mr. RUSH Metanoia

    December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  6. Chuck

    The Real Pope is in retirement, this current pope is a pawn of satan

    December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Gerry Daley

      What utter baloney. What you really want is a pope with the sensibilities of a Tea Party Republican.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Dead Like Me 74

      Chuck you forgot to take your meds today.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • aubrie

      Ummm.... I think you have that backwards...

      December 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      So the pope shows compassion for people and now you call him satan. Makes you wonder why religious whack jobs question why people laugh at religion.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • MaryM

      So you are one of the freaking mor ons that follows rush and spews your hatred

      December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • sumtingwong

      Are you related to Rush Limbaugh, or are you just one of his writers coming up with some ca-came lines so he can pay your daily rate??

      December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  7. Danny

    Is Rush off his meds again. Would someone get Rush a pill, it doesn't matter what kind just any old pill will do.
    Doesn't this guy ever stop?! Slap a dark wig on his head and we'll will call him Kim K. Ok all kidding aside, I'm sorry when talking about Rush I can't be serious, he is just to easy of a target not to joke about!! Father forgive me even though I know what I did.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  8. jake

    What woman in their right mind would phuckk this stinking obese fat pig who can't find his tiny little pathetic excuse for a Diicckk.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  9. Mike O'Hara

    Limbaugh is just a tool, a shill, for monied interests who go into heart palpitations at the slightest hint of social justice. He's a marionette who can get pulled at a moment's notice by his handlers if he strays from their agenda.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  10. tednugent'sdiapers

    "If it comes from the mouth of a Republican, it comes from the rectum of humanity."

    December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  11. Tony

    This is no surprise coming from Limbaugh. Perhaps his drug issues are having an impact on his rants. However, he knows exactly what he's doing. Inflaming his dim witted followers by feeding them his unsubstantiated, unsupported, outlandish fodder.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  12. Jack Woodburn

    This has been fun to watch over the past couple of hours. CNN succeeded. The worthless headline and story kept people (including me watching mostly from 5000 feet) in various strings here for hours. Too bad there is not that much advertising more revenue to be gleaned from CNN's dwindling base of left leaning viewers. It's gonna catch up with them unless they can somehow get the current administration let them compete with NPR Radio for tax funding!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Jack Woodburn

      Oops, I hit the 'post' icon ten seconds too quickly. Sorry about the word order glitch.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  13. John Keimig

    Rush Limbaugh is preaching pure crap! That is no surprise, as he does it on a regular basis. But this time feels more grotesque somehow. Here we have the leader of one of the original churches in Christ, working to drive his church in a more godly and less materialistic direction, back to its fundamentals, closer to the message of its mentor Jesus of Nazareth.
    How ironic is it that Limbaugh would apply to this pope and his efforts the name of a man who once had the following to say about religion:
    "Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions."

    December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  14. rino

    Thank you Pope. For your courage.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  15. roger

    Rush represents the worst of our humanity. He's nothing but a self-promoting, self serving greedy capitalist., and the sooner the media starts to ignore his stupidity, the better off we'll all be. There was a time, about 10 years ago, when I did make an effort to listen to him, but with his condescending, mean-spirited, hateful messages, I didn't last long. He speaks loud and long for The RABID RIGHT !

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

      Worst? Still debating wheter him or beck or his servant amy holmes. Who has the least soul?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  16. Ol' Yeller

    And rush bragged about absorbing the loss of the companies who boycotted him after he attacked the young college girl about being a sIut.
    I don't believe he understands the ramifications of his attcking the the Pope in such a manner. rush probably believes, in his bloated, drug addled, egotistical bran stem that he is much more popular than some old Pope.
    We shall see, won't we....

    December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  17. Frank

    Rush just speaks nonsense, he would find Christ's teachings to left for him.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Gideon Asche

      Frank if you think about it.. Jesus was the first Socialist,, (and I do not say that as a Negative)
      the first century church took care of all of it's members, and expected the better off to help the less fortunate.
      So you are absolutely right, (or left) Rush would consider Jesus' teachings Marxist.

      Although it would be more accurate to say some of Marx's ideas were slightly Jesus-ist.

      humorous as it is,, back in the 80's we used to see propaganda posters all over that declared "socialism, Yesterday, today and forever!" a mirror of Hebrews 13:8

      December 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  18. sumtingwong

    Limbaugh's talk show style (or lack of) is no different than those cheap tabloids at the supermarket checkouts claiming that aliens impregnated Princess Di. No validity or credit to it. Just a sorry cheap addict looking for easy ways to make money from any legitimate news article. After all what is easier than attack anything that gets published under the freedom of expression. It's not the first nor the last time this poor excuse of an individual will regurgitate hate language no matter what the subject is with the only intent of getting paid...he would probably throw her mother under the bus if it had the slightest potential of attracting public interest....

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

      Its no coincidence those supermarket tabloids are always attacking Princess Di John Kennedy Bill Clinton (see a trend here). They are owned by Rupert Murdoch, who owns (wait for it.....) Fox. Big surprise?!!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  19. Mary Crowe

    Rush is sadly and unbelievably an a$$. I find it truly unbelievable that he still as a listener let alone 15 million!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  20. Theseus

    Socialism = Selfless charity for the needy.
    Capitalism = Individuals gaining from corporate monopolies at the expense of the welfare of millions of others.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Faith isn't a Preacher

      Socialism is not selfless. It's imposed.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Tom

      True Charity demands voluntary personal sacrifice, the problem with socialism is it's not voluntary AND its never personal, it's always taking from someone else, and then claiming credit for that very giving, under the guise of caring. The biggest tax cheats are always the very socialists advocating higher and higher taxes. The end goal is not helping the poor, it's growing the government and state, because socialism's eventual goal is always Communism.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:57 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.