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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. Gary J Carlin

    Dear Rush please sell me some of your pills I need to be as HIGH as you!.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  2. liberal disease

    perhaps Obama can lend his opinion on trickle down economics since he is am expert on economic matters and snorted cocaine

    December 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Jericho

      Wrong president. That was Bush.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Mick Taylor

      What is a Rush Limbaugh anyway? it sounds like sour russian gruel you would have to eat in Siberia.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Jericho

      Wrong guy. That was Bush.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
      • Jericho

        Sorry; double post.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  3. swohio

    I'm amazed 15 million people even pay any attention to Rush Limbaugh. Compare that to the billions who pay attention to the pope. Time to hang up your mic, Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • kardiac

      and those 15 million vote. It is a terrifying thought

      December 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  4. Matthew

    If you look at the picture of Limbaugh that is provided with this story, he kind of looks like Satan.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  5. palintwit

    He likes to borrow Sarah Palin's buttplugs.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  6. LivinginVA

    Dr. Tesla: The Pope has no salary, but every year the Catholic church gives more to charity (in the US alone) the Rush Limbaugh makes. According to Ann Coulter, Rush is extremely generous and donated more than 109K in a single year. Given that his salary is about 70M, that comes out to less than 1/10 of 1%.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Jericho

      Ann Coulter has a lot in common with Rush, being they're both men.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  7. Max

    Why in god's name does anyone on planet earth care about what Rush Limbaugh thinks? Why? What has he done in his lifetime to help humanity, or to help make our lives better in any way? Other than talking into a microphone...what has he done? When he's dieing..during his last breath...what will be his last positive reflections on his life? I don't see any...at all.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  8. Norm

    How do you know when Rush is right?

    3600 (and counting) liberals LOSE THEIR FREAKING MINDS!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  9. jb_n_atl

    Someone should remind Varney (his preacher, perhaps?) that going to church is not what saves your soul. It's what you do when you leave.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Jericho

      Varney shills for Fox. What do you expect?

      December 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Mick Taylor

      Nobody cares what this fat slob has to say other than his biggoted, ignorant audience, the same dimwits with those moronic "Forgiven" bumper stickers on their bloated, gas-guzzling SUV's.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
      • ohhaihowareu

        Do you drive a car? I hope not, cause otherwise you'd be hypocritical.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  10. Carl

    I'll give Limbaugh partial credit. It's debatable whether or not the Pope was preaching marxism, but he sure isn't practicing it.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  11. rush preaches ca-ca

    The ignorance of some people. It just goes to you how brain dead, dumb, stupid and ignorant Rush really is. Today's world is all about greed and selfishness. More is never enough. People have gotten more and more lazy when it comes to helping the less fortunate people of this Nation and our World and it shows in the gridlock in Congress.

    Rush dosen't know the meaning of being a good human being let alone a good Christian/Jew/Muslim person. In fact he doesn't have the balls to help anyone less fortunate than himself. He's more female than the French in WW 1 and all the females in his family going back to Adam and Eve.

    One of the Ten Commandments is to love thy neighbor as yourself. To be chritable is to be Christian, to be Christian is to be chritable. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want help you need to learn to help others first.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  12. kim

    fuc! Rush and the horse he rode in on, so sick of these azz wipes

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

    You hardly have to be a Marxist to be deeply concerned about the skyrocketing levels of inequality in America and some of the other parts of the advanced world. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has published very robust research involving more than 140 countries around the world which demonstrates that countries with extreme levels of inequality (1) tend to experience much slower rates of economic growth; and (2) are far more susceptible to the kind of severe financial/banking/credit crisis that America just went through five years ago. So, if you disagree with the Pope, be prepared for painfully slow economic growth, and one financial crisis after another. Because that's what we have to "look forward to" if we continue on our current path.

    Plutarch understood this almost two thousand years ago. Plutarch: "An imbalance between the rich and the poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics". Without a thriving middle class to serve as a 'buffer', the rich and the poor will be at each other's throats. The end result would be either a brutally repressive right-wing oligarchy backed by military force, or a wildly irrational populist left-wing revolution. Neither of which is remotely desirable.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Spirit1

      Has anyone stopped to think of how the Wealthy, have been standing on the shoulders of the middle class, for centuries, and when the Middle Class collapses, whose shoulders will they stand on then?
      This "new world order" theory, gets more interesting with time. Imagine what happens, when the dollar collapses, and everyone with an account in the Cayman Islands, is STUCK with worthless paper and stocks? The poor will survive, because they have learned to do with very little, and the so-called "rich" will collapse, not knowing the skills that the poor know, now. If you were to check the business background of the wealthiest people (i.e. Joe Kennedy) you would find out that they are some of the biggest CROOKS in the World. Their lack of respect for the laws, and others, are what earned them their millions. Joe Kennedy, was a bootlegger, and there are others who have a sordid history of crookedness. I would rather be honest, and compassionate, than wealthy and ruthless. Thank you, Pope Francis, for your attempt to teach the real values in Life.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  14. Don Monaco

    Rush Limbaugh is what the Jesus encountered in the temple – a Pharisee.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  15. Joe Mama

    LOL @ Limp-balls and his ignorant followers supporting their exploiters.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  16. social-democracy

    The verse 2 Thessalonians 3:10 "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you: that if any would not work, neither should he eat" is mostly used by conservatives as the explanation of their anti-Christian behavior, however this was common practice among communists, and the real sense was that the bourgeoisie should not exploit the poor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/He_who_does_not_work,_neither_shall_he_eat

    December 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  17. Zavandy

    Look, Rush Limbaugh is not dangerous. He's biggoted, fat, addicted to spite, and his listeners are Stepford followers with anger issues brought about by neglect. Anything else you need from me?

    December 2, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  18. wp4e

    All the fatsos are going psycotic.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      Maybe he ran out of crack? They get really crazy really fast when that happens.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • Michael R. Meade

        Check out Jesus at academia.edu

        December 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  19. JA

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

    Not even most of his sponsors pulling their funding could convince the Fat@ss to apologize, as we saw during the Sandra Fluke incident.

    Man...healthcare reform, a black man in the Oval Office...twice, a trouncing in the last election that momentarily shattered their alternative reality bubble, the striking down of DOMA and more states legalizing gay marriage, whites soon to be less than 50% of the US's population, and now even the Pope is calling bullsh!t on their philosophy...it's like every conservative nightmare is becoming reality, and we'll be better off because of it.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • It is all BS

      Dennett and LaScola’s new book on nonbelieving clergy | Why Evolution is True

      by Jerry Coyne posted on December 02, 2013 06:25PM GMT

      December 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Jericho

      Rush has no shame.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • middle america man

      I know that's right. We Democrats have experienced an unfortunate setback very recently due to an admittedly sloppy start to ACA (should have just gone with Single Payer) but that doesn't change the fact that the Republican party is demographically becoming extinct. Hear that, cons? Your goose is cooked. So much fun to watch their alternate reality destroyed right in front of them.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  20. Jericho

    What Rush preaches is pure BS.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      He is a comedian, and if people stopped letting him decide how they vote, both he and America would be better off. He'd be funnier if his disciples didn't go around armed and angry.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:24 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.