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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. Matt

    Rush is a great example of a why a serious Chris Farley would have been a terrible thing.

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

      Thanks. That made me laugh out loud.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
      • Matt

        I do what I can.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  2. Michael R. Meade

    Jesus Christ was a Commune-ist Anarachist, the Anachrist.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  3. Deb D

    I am a capitalist. I should be able to run my business paying my employees as little as I can get away with. The government is the problem. I have never paid my people enough to afford healthcare. Now I have to cut their hours to under 32 hours so I don't have to offer group insurance. I am a Christian, but I am too busy enjoying my comfortable life to figure out WWJD. I just try to stay ahead of the IRS.

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

      Nice satire.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
      • kardiac

        I just hope that's satire

        December 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Christine Holmes

      YOU ARE A PIG AND DON'T EVEN CALL YOURSELF A CHRISTIAN. YOU ARE THE SPAN OF THE DEVIL.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  4. Leigh

    I think Limbaugh is against Jesus as well. Unless in Limbaugh's bible, Jesus was a "pure capitalist"? LOL I don't think so. Go away, Rush. There's some oxycontin somewhere waiting for you to swallow. Creep.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  5. tekstep1

    CNN, make this Diqus Friendly!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  6. JimNasium

    If Jesus were alive today Republicans would no doubt be comparing him to Hitler.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Christine Holmes

      YES BUT CHRIST WAS A JEW AND THE CONSERVATIVES WOULD BE HITLER. THIS IS WHY HITLER EXTERMINATED THEM AND WHY EVEN TODAY JEWS ARE HATED BECAUSE JESUS WAS A JEW WITH A VERY DIFFERENT ROLE OF RELIGION IN THIS WORLD, AND IT WASN'T CAPITALISM!!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  7. Steve

    Nothing says self destruction like attacking the church. Even an atheist knows that.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  8. Gil Herrera

    Who do I believe? The Pope or the drug addict?

    December 2, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  9. Matt

    This is why Rush's words only reach 13 million people while the Pope's reach some 6 billion.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  10. IT IS ALL GOOD AND GOD IS AT THE END

    Ever thought where the term ...bleeding heart originated? Could it be......? The pope is the vicar for the #1 bleeding heart.
    Rush on occasion can speak the truth but on this ...he is out of his league.

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

    Rush Limbaugh is nothing but a troll!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  12. Pateriot

    Why is it that the Left, including CNN, take every opportunity to attack the Catholic Church and its moral stances. Yet when someone who is Conservative rightly points out the economically Marxist leanings of the pope, you are right there as if you were the churches staunchest allies!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • darth cheney

      Like Rush, you don't know what Marxism is.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      " rightly points out the economically Marxist leanings of the pope"
      Pro Tip #1: If the Pope was actually preaching Marxism, we wouldn't all be laughing at Rush. He's on dope again.
      Pro Tip #2: It is spelled "PATRIOT."

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

      I've read the communist manifesto... I can say for certain that the Pope is not preaching Marxist ideas... He is not calling for uprising... He is not calling for class war-fare... He is saying that greed has it's dangers... The same lesson Jesus tried to teach when he kicked the money lenders out of the temple...

      December 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
      • Christine Holmes

        UNFORTUNATELY MANY CHRISTIANS BELIEVE THAT IF YOU ARE NOT WEALTHY YOU WON'T GO TO HEAVEN WHICH IS EXACTLY DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED TO CHRIST'S TEACHINGS.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Ray

      Clearly if you KNEW anything about actual Marxism you would know the Marxist theory rejects organized religion. So logically Pope Francis is not a Marxist but you are clearly an idiot.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  13. Al

    Pope Francis is preaching what the Gospel and Jesus himself taught. That is to help the poor, protect the Earth, and don't be greedy. Limbaugh teaches the opposite.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Seth Hill

      I couldn't find in the Bible where Jesus said to protect the earth. Could you help me out?

      December 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • Christine Holmes

        WE ARE GOD'S STEWARDS AND HAVE TO PROTECT GOD'S CREATURES. BELIEVE IT OR NOT WE ALL INCLUDING GOD'S ANIMALS, AND THE EARTH ARE OUR RESPONSIBLILTY TO PROTECT. THE REPUBLICAND PARTY AND RONALD REGAN SAID WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR PRESERVING THE FUTURE OF OUR FUTURE GENERATIONS. THE HELL WITH PRESEVING THE OCEANS AND LAND JUST DESTROY!!!

        December 2, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  14. RoomWithAMoose

    When the Catholic church is evolving with the world faster than your ideas... You are probably on the wrong side of history...

    December 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  15. nirm

    Jesus was a radical jew. However, unlike his modern day counterparts, he was genuine, humble, soft-spoken, reasonable and practized what he preached – a truely God-like figure.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  16. Rochelle

    Limbaugh relishes spreading his ignorance, bigoted, and hateful "truths". He is a dangerous person. This country has too many people who don't think for themselves take his words as gospel.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  17. tebaho

    Let's see ... over here we have the Holy Father, and then we have ... Rush. Who ya gonna listen to? Right – this is a tough one. One was elected Pope, the other charged with illicitly obtaining pain killers. One speaks his heart and Christian love, calling on his church to be His church, to keep it real, the other makes bail after being printed, then agrees to try and avoid criminal behavior, a deal other users of that magnitude can't get for acquiring 2000 narcotic pills. One remembers Whose he is, the other thinks it's all about himself. Limbaugh complains of "pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope." Too many know what comes from the mouth of Limbaugh and is best consigned to a pasture. The man is a buffoon..

    December 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      They are going to go with the fat dope guy, of course. The other guy is an Italian.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  18. Richie

    I wasn't thinking highly of the new pope, but hearing Limbaugh trash him has made me think again–maybe he's a good pope after all. He certainly has placed himself opposite to the intellectual terrorists of the far right. The Rush Limbaugh's of the world are an embarrassment to the conservative movement.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  19. Brian

    If Limbaugh dislikes what you are doing or saying, you are doing something right.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  20. art dodson

    So Rush Limbaugh does not like Pope Francis' writings on capitalism. Who really cares what Rush thinks or says? Rush is a smart guy who knows how to make money making outrageous comments about world leaders and others. I feel sorry for the people who listen to him and take him seriously. God gave you a brain! Use it! As a Catholic I believe Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ and it is his duty to encourage us toward a life of holiness. The worship of money or capitalism is not part of the gospel of Christ.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:13 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.