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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. Don Smith

    I say this and this alone. Rush Limbaugh is a true conservativ. All for me and none for you. His statements over the years are proving him out. Nobody has anything right to say except Rush. Don't forget he can beat anyone with both hands tied behind his back. Rush is a nobody supported by a bunch of conservatives. He has never been right nor will he ever be. He has had to slap his own face on several occasions over the yearsBut his mout is a mechanical Republican . You can not stop it from clamering.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  2. aubrie

    Poor Rush.... He actually thinks we listen to him and care what he has to say... such a putz.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  3. Myron Pitts

    Silliness. It'd be interesting what Limabaugh and his type would say about Jesus were he walking around now. They would not be fans. He really didn't back anything the right-wing is talking about.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      Considering that I've seen at least one person say that the "if you give a man fish" quote is from the Bible, I don't hold too much stock in what Rush's supporters have to say.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  4. jake

    Rush enjoys balls in his mouth. Closet freak.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  5. Dr.Tesla

    Limbaugh is right.

    Catholics have a tendency to want to pay Jesus with our tax dollars.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  6. JJ

    People should ignore this Joke. He's making his fame and money out of this kind of non-sense, and because media inc. keeps covering the dirty sounds that are coming out of his mouth. Please stop talking about his dirt and he will be irrelevant in no time. CNN please stop.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  7. truth

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

    December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  8. Jack Preacher

    The Pope didn't say anything about capitalism that Adam Smith didn't say before him. The problem is that pseudo-free-marketists like Limbaugh never read Smith and probably wouldn't understand him if they did.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Anthony

      i think you might actually be on to something there.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  9. henrywester

    he's looking to improve his rating, and he will just like K. West and the many other well known people. Turn him over to God!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  10. ug

    So does ovomit....

    December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Gianni

      LOL, how many hours did it take you to come up with this BRILLIANT comment? *sarcasm off*

      December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  11. brian

    The truly sad thing is people are actually amazed at what this man has to say. Makes you wonder why CNN would run this as the leading article. My guess is to deflect attention from something else.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  12. mikeymo74

    Newsflash Rush: Jesus was a socialist.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Warrior Wizard

      Yep, at least in the bible that I read....... What's that part 'bout the camel, eye of the needle and a rich guy?????????????

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

      MW: Socialism: a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies

      I don't remember Jesus mentioning that part. Please explain.

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

        you just described Communism, not Socialism.
        Socialism sees a need for Capitalism and considers it a stepping stone to achieving a prosperous Socialist society. One of the ideas of socialism is that everyone within the society will benefit from capitalism as much as possible as long as the capitalism is controlled somehow by a centralized planning system. On the other hand, communists assert that both capitalism and private ownership of the means of production must be done away with as soon as possible in order to make sure a classless society.

        Socialism and communism are based on the principle that the means of producing goods and providing services — such as all factories and companies — should be owned publicly and controlled and planned by a centralized organization rather than being controlled by members of a small class of wealthy people. Socialists assert that wealthy people who own the means of production are able to exploit workers in order to make more money and become even richer, thereby increasing their power over the workers. By eliminating private ownership of factories and companies, socialists believe, the workers can be paid more.
        As an economic system, socialism seeks to manage the economy through deliberate and collective social control. Communism, however, seeks to manage both the economy and the society by ensuring that property is owned collectively and that control over the distribution of resources is centralized to achieve both classlessness and statelessness. Under communism, all people are considered equal and are provided for equally, regardless of their contributions to the economy or to society. This is different from socialism, but both socialism and communism are similar in that they seek to prevent many of the ill effects that are sometimes associated with capitalism, such as economic inequality.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • Anthony

        also to answer your question about Jesus and what he truly said about the rich and the poor, i suggest you open your Roman Catholic Bible to these two passages and read them from beginning to end, Matthew 19:24 and Luke 12:13-21. Enjoy!

        December 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Don

        GOD gave us LIFE not to prosper, but to learn obedience and through our disciples of denying self, that which will bring us into a heavenly place provided by the LORD. The Pope is talking to the wealthy. He is in essence saying ,your wealth is worthless and vain. . Rush needs to learn discipline, mouth obedience and How to Love mankind of ALL Kinds

        December 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  13. truth

    God looks upon Catholicism and says : i didn't established this?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  14. Warbo

    And once again the Catholic Church is the government's pet.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  15. ThomasR

    the current pope = PETER THE ROMAN – The 112th prophesy states: "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Petrus Romanus, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End." The last pope may just cut Catholics loose from unity and the papacy, causing total disruption and confusion.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  16. Anthony

    Rush doesnt have the first clue as to what the bible truly preaches, I officially give Rush Limbaugh the name of C.I.N.O. (Christian In Name Only) i honestly believe that if there is a JC and if he did come back to earth (even though all logic is telling me otherwise) Rush would call him a dirty hippie socialist.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Warrior Wizard

      Wow, spot on...... and so sad...

      December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  17. SandRmac

    I didn't even think this idiot was alive...didn't he OD on oxy or something?? I'm sure the Pope is sweating his comments...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  18. Treppie

    Limbaugh should be put behind glass and studied so that future generations can weed out his particular sort of stupidity.

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

      LMFAO, that is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thank you, i actually had to put my coffee down for that one.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  19. Alex Wilson

    So the fox news commentator who is criticizing the pope criticizing a "specific political system" seems not to know that capitalism is an economic system, not a political system. This is a major issue in this country. Somehow, capitalism is now confused with democracy and so wierd complete laisez faire capitalism is held up as a goal, when that kind of pure capitalism leads to pollution, child labor sweatshops, etc. Capitalism is a great tool to allocate goods and services using markets. But capitalism is not some political system of this country, nor is it a noble goal in and of itself, it is just a tool.

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

      there is clearly intelligence in you, please stop trying to waist it on mind numbing conservatives, you would have better luck with a brick wall

      December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  20. Karen TenEyck

    Christianity is inherently Marxist. I believe that's the whole point. Rush, you are in idiot.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:49 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.