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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. Dr.Tesla

    Liberals define compassion as supporting high taxes on other people.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Oh yeah, when you have nothing to offer, blame liberals.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
      • Bams

        Yeah, just democratic capitalism, which has freed more people from slavery, oppression and poverty than any other system of civilized society in the history of mankind.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      I'm a liberal, and I give to charity, but I also support higher taxes ON MYSELF and others in my tax bracket because charity does not pay public school teacher salaries, nor infrastructure, nor police. Charity also does not raise enough to help all those in need. Our property taxes have dropped in my area – there has not been any increase in donations to area food banks or other other charities.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Peter

      I am generally skeptical of people who have a simple answer for everything.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  2. JohnRJohnson

    THE 104 PAGES OF COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHY RUSH LIMBAUGH SAID WHAT HE SAID. IT'S ALL ABOUT GETTING ATTENTION.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  3. M

    "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."

    And you do know what you're talking about? You're a glorified disc jockey. and you said that yourself. I fail to see how running your mouth on the radio makes you an expert in economics.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  4. BrianM

    Rush is searching for relevancy. I guess ratings are flagging. Either that or his cochlear implant has worked loose and is free floating between his ears.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  5. JJ

    Nothing more vicious than Catholics and Protestants or Sunni or Shiites disagreeing.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  6. David

    Rush Limbaugh = Worst American political commentator

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

    I love you libs getting yourselves all jazzed up throwing around all these emotional words. You so consistently rely on removing people from the realm of thought and placing them in the realm of viscerally hating someone (like Rush) so they don't even need to THINK about the issue at hand.

    It's a simple issue of categorization – it's a question of FACT: Can the Pope's policy administrations be categorized as Marxist or not?

    All your bloviating about how "fat", "pill popping", "hateful", etc. Rush is is not only is irrelevant, but actually exposes you for conducting the EXACT SAME transgressions that you so "compassionately" condemn Rush for...hilarious!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Bob Smith

      Not nearly as hilarious as your feeble attempt at lucidity.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  8. Barbara Graves

    This Pope is about love and tolerance and inclusion. Rush Limbaugh is about hate, bigotry, his agenda and himself! I don't understand why anyone gives Limbaugh any credence at all.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Deus Ibi Est

      Great comment. God bless you, friend.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  9. Serge

    One sick puppy.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  10. Erik

    From his comments, I'm not sure if Limbaugh would know Marxism if it bit him in the rear....

    December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  11. PEPTALK

    Those 2 guys (Pope and Rush) look cute together. They should get hitched. Everything goes now, right?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  12. Ken Margo

    Lets see whose side the repubs take. The Pope or Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  13. Tamme

    Rush Limbaugh has a narrow mind, a cold heart and no true vision. He is the devil in disguise

    December 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Why would you offend the devil like that?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      He gives and raises more to cancer research every year than you do, or the pope.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        Whoopee Limbaugh donates to cancer! He's still an azz hole.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • PEPTALK

          Be careful Rush may be saving your life from cancer someday. You never know what happens tomorrow.

          December 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          I donate to charity, I've done walk-a-thons. That doesn't mean I can't be criticized. You want to kiss rush's butt. Pucker up.

          December 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
        • PEPTALK

          I kiss no man's butt. Yeah, but your donations and efforts will be spent by the time you might be in need. (I hope you never do get cancer I don't wish that not even my worse enemy)

          December 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • Joe

        Dr. it does not always come down to money. The pope champions the poor, rush champions greedy, rich, selfish people that use donating money to a charity as a tax right off. IF you think is anything other then that, you are extremely naive.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  14. spiritsprouts

    The poor, fatherless, sick, prisoners and widows is where our focus should be. The conservative rightgeous are unable to see them. What is done to the least of these we do to him. Bless the Pope for hearing what the spirit is saying. The Catholic Church will be exaulted in such a difficult time when money is worshipped above God.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Deus Ibi Est

      Amen to that spiritsprouts! An d God bless you for your care and respect for the poor AND the Holy Father.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • PEPTALK

      Who needs fathers when you can have a butcher for modad? It is the liberal way. The liberal courts don't think children need a dad. Really? Look at these children's role models.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  15. Nancy Leeder

    I am not concerned or care about what Rush Limbaugh. However, I find it more concerning, and I feel more wary of Americans, that 15 million of you are listening to Rush Limbaugh. Lets talk about why that happens

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

      My concern is that 1/2 of America is so dumbdown that will vote this nation to socialism lies. The other 1/2 is dumbdown that have no clue that both DEM and REP are liars.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
      • Bob Smith

        Are you 10? 1/2 and 1/2 make a whole......which dumbdown 1/2 are you in Einstein?

        December 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
        • PEPTALK

          Hey Bob. Don't get me wrong I am there too? However, I am transitioning out of the less 2 evil ideology. What about you? Smart guy I have a Liberal Degree in Science of Political Correctness, which half are you?

          December 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    “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.”

    Too bad capitalism is an economic not a political system, you raging moron. The improper linkage is revealed in you confusing capitalism for a political system: that's what leads straight to plutocracy. How very revealing Varney's insanely wrong commentary is.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Bob Smith

      Here, here!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  17. truth

    Man made religion..traditions of men.period

    December 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • PEPTALK

      That is not what yo mama said

      December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  18. David B

    Rush is an Ignorant Pill Popping, Arrogant Thug. He should read the Part of the Bible that Jesus states to give up your worldly goods for it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Rush is a true moron along with the self serving right wingers who do nothing but make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Which person is more a true Human than a thug?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  19. Matt

    Only a mental midget views the world in black and white.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • PEPTALK

      That is offensive, Liberal. you need to be more political correct.

      POLITICAL CORRECT = VIOLATION OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Matt

        Thank you good sir for demonstrating my point.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Bob Smith

        Where did you study grammar....spelling.....or typing? You must be one of "them" furiners?

        December 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  20. rlindsl

    Humanity is not measured in net worth. If we have forgotten that, maybe we should reconsider actual Marxism so Rush can get some perspective.

    In a truly free capitalist economy I could use whatever means necessary to accomplish the goal of increasing my net worth. I do not think Rush is ready for that.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:53 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.