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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. Mrs. Travis

    The battle lines grow deeper.

    Love Israel's gift to Francis (telling)!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  2. Bill C

    I am a conservative, but don't listen to Rush because I don't like all the name calling. But that being said, this is a non story were it not for CNNs insatiable desire to carry Obama's torch.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Jericho

      Lol. Sorry Fix doesn't allow comments, sheep boy.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • bp

      Bill C. Please hang a cross around your neck. If you are non-believer go hang on the cross

      December 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      I didn't see Obama mentioned in the pope's comments.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  3. StafCoyote

    Stuart Varney reinforces the uninformed notion some have that the Episcopal Church is the church of the One Percent. Were I his rector, I would advise him not to present himself for Communion, and repel him from the altar rail if he did. No sacramental grace for Fox "News" mouthpieces. They are complicit in objective moral evil.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • KDK

      And another Duplicitous Democrat posted here today. And it's okay with you StafCoyote for abortion promoters and advocates such as Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and all Kennedy's to partake in holy Catholic sacraments? How much does Mighty Joe give to charity? Answer: about $3K per year.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  4. mchughjj

    While Pope Francis has certainly stepped up the rhetoric on the theme of economic justice, he hasn't expressed any views that are a substantive shift in the Church's position. I recall taking a senior class in Catholic high school called something like Peace and Hunger, which was basically an indoctrination in the moral imperative of redistributing the world's wealth and power. This was 1983. Ironically, although the faculty fell very much in line with this philosophy (or appeared to), the ultra-conservative student body wasn't having any of it, especially in the middle of the Reagan revolution.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Jericho

      Bull. He isn't trying to redistribute wealth in the way you're implying.

      And Reagan's trickle down is one reason the economy is in such sad shape.

      More tea?

      December 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
      • mchughjj

        I didn't even express a personal opinion on policy in my post, so your response makes no sense. I said the class was ultra-conservative...I didn't say I was. I'm not a tea party person if that's what you're implying. But I will take issue with the idea that "trickle-down" economics has anything to do with our current economic crisis. The idea that by lowering the barriers to entrepreneurship, you can create jobs and stimulate economic growth is a sound one. I've softened my anti-regulation positions a little since the 2009 recession. For a capitalist system such as ours to function well, it presumes that corporate decision-makers will act in their organization's, and thus their own, best interest. The housing market crash, and the ripple effects from it, are a striking example of how a total lack of oversight can backfire if people making financial decisions are stupid...such as lending billions to individuals with a questionable ability to repay the amount granted.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  5. Litz

    I can not imagine anyone taking this whacko seriouly. I am not Catholic but I respect those who are and any other followers of any other religion. Limbaugh is a person filled with hate and all I do is pity him.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  6. Gary Johnson

    This Pope is clearly a Marxist. It didn't take Limbaugh to point it out…just like it didn't take Limbaugh to point out that Obama is a muslim anarchist…. Some people just won't openly state the obvious, and some will. Watch this Pope very carefully. That's all I'm going to say…

    December 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      and all we need to say is you are a nut.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Peter

      "Obama is a Muslim anarchist".

      The posts on this board just keep getting crazier and crazier!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • tracy

      and some people are just paranoids...that's all I'm going to say!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Shannon Hubbell

      Anarchist? I thought Obama was supposed to be a Communist or a Nazi or something.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Robert McDowell

      I believe your wrong. Obama was elected by the voters of the United States Of America. He has been elected twice. Pope Francis was elected to be Pope by the Cardinals.

      Rush Limbaugh is a convicted drug addict. Rush Limbaugh is a pawn of very specific corporate interests. You can't trust what he says because Rush does everything for money. For Rush to say this is actually a badge of honor to wear. I would like to be criticized too by Rusk Limbaugh. has to realize that Catholic Americans are very Patriotic to this country, who have enlisted to serve with it's armed forced, and are also Christian Catholics. I'm sure his advertisers will be reminding him about that... after all we live in a Capitalists system Limbaugh.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  7. cmm

    Rush is an entertainer, not a journalist...

    December 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Arthur Paliden

      If by entertainer you mean idiot, yes you are right.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Neal

      Rush is one of the greatest bands ever. Rush Limbaugh is a drunken coked up pill popper who's name had become a verb for red faced fat slobs spouting lies until Mayor Rob Ford went and upstaged him...

      December 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  8. ohhaihowareu

    You first, Francis. Maybe we could redistribute that multi thousand dollar wardrobe you walk around in.

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

      and you better have a re-look on what he wears...and how he actually does things. it's very un-popish.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  9. Denis

    Poor Rush thought that Jesus was some kind of white skinned capitalist entrepreneur , and has just found out that Jesus was a middle eastern dark skinned hippie socialist !

    December 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  10. preets

    The statement is incorrect– "This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets," Limbaugh said. "He says that the global economy needs government control."

    Rich people or people with influence or special interest control the "market".

    Purely from a control point of view – if "market" exists – people will want to influence it or control it.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  11. Gerald

    The Pope realizes that he must modernize the church or become obsolete, with atheists as the fastest raising (non) belief. Republican must do the same or become irrelevant. A country should not be dictated by Religious beliefs. Same for political parties: they should not include social issues. The moment we do that, is the moment we become the same as all those backwards countries we've fought against. And as for Rush, if he thinks he'll get more support from the people who now support this Pope more than ever before....well he's dead wrong.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  12. JOSH P.

    Don,t you just love those Christians,they only love the part that works for them,if I remember some people had Jesus killed after he called them MONEY CHANGERS,surely Jesus didn,t look at those who rob societies too kindly.

    Like Gandhi said–I like your Christ,I do not like your Christians,They are so unlike your Christ.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  13. Ellen

    Sometimes , Rush Limbaugh would be better served if he just kept some of his thoughts to himself . This is one of those times , whew .................. an I'm a Unitarian by the way !

    December 2, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  14. Terry B

    As usual, another bit of endless blathering by someone who totally lacks any moral compass to go with his total lack of compassion for those who are less fortunate then the colossal blowhard that he is.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • fred smith

      Agreed. Rush Limbaugh..If we would stop printing what this moron says, we might be able to make him go away. People scream about what Matin Bashir said on msnbc a few days ago..What about all the things this man has spewed without any consequences whatsoever? The fact that people get most of their thoughts from this man and Fox news is pretty scary.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  15. clarkgee

    For once I agree with the Pope. When is enough enough? Our lungs, stomachs, mouths, hands, homes, cars, feet, computers, earth and everything else seems to know when enough is enough. However, the very greedy and rich are in direct opposite of this natural rule/instinct/science. What good is it to hoord all your cash while money is needed to do so many things to improve the way of life? I believe 50% should be given where the impact is immediate. Build a recreation center using the people in the community it will serve for example, do something that will make a difference and trust me, you will not go broke!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  16. Toni

    He's not preaching Marxism. He's preaching Christianity as it should be. That whole, "What would Jesus do?" thing. I know this is hard for Rush Limbaugh to understand. He has no room for Christianity, or Jesus, in his life.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  17. Matt

    What do Rush Limbaugh and Al Qaeda have in common? Conservative beliefs.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  18. Wes

    Limbaugh preaches sensationalism. Why listen?

    December 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  19. palintwit

    He likes to borrow Sarah Palin's buttplugs !

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

      Nah. Rush prefers young Filipino boys.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  20. Motherarp

    Read Acts 4:32 - Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:30 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.