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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. Jimbo Coles

    The Republican Party is toast with "people" like this at the helm.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • DustyOnes

      He is only considered by CNN and MSNBC. Most conservatives mute him out.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • JMO

        If conservatives had a shred of decency they would call him out when he says something like this.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • Rev. Rick

        Don't bet on it. Many of my conservative friends (and sadly some of my own family) believe every word he says. What a blow bag he has become.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
      • stephaneetienne

        Dude, he has a fan base of 15 millions. Rush Limbaugh certainly epitomize the republican movement.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  2. gustifer53

    I love how the leader (Limbaugh) of the Republican and Teabagger Party's is really making an effort to win voters over. Let's see, they (Which includes their leader Limbaugh) have bashed, Mexican, Blacks, Women, Gay's, Orientals, Arabs and now just for good measure, the Pope and the Catholic Voters. Great job Rush LIMPdick and the Teapublican Party's. I guess we will have to wait until the 2014 election, to actually see the self destruction of those two Party's. I do hear the pounding of that last nail in their coffins though...Gotta Love it when a plan comes together, good plan GOP and you Teabaggers...LMAO

    December 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • DaTrufHurts

      Bitter, much?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I'm no fan of Limbaugh, but he's not a leader of the Republican Party. He's a showman, a carnival barker, nothing more. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't believe a word he says. He's just in it for the money.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Fred

      I'm a Republican and Rush Limbaugh doesn't represent me. Does Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson represent you?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  3. Kathy, AZ

    -----Well, Limbaugh is a mooooooooooooron, so he doesn't have much room to talk. Rather be the Pope.-

    December 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  4. Bill

    So what Rush Limbaugh is a Nazi Facist and a moron.This ideot loves to inject hate into the country everytime he opens his mouth.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • AnotherPerson

      First, on a message board like this, it's really important that you learn to use proper punctuation and spelling. Without it, it pretty much invalidates your argument based on the assumption that if you can't spell correctly, your argument is probably flawed.
      Second, calling Limbaugh a Fascist is pretty ridiculous....shows that you have no idea what Limbaugh believes or what Fascism is. Limbaugh is a hard-core capitalist. He thinks money should rule the world. And, IMO, he is a moron, but with the way you write, that's the pot calling the kettle black.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  5. TheInlandEmperor

    That Rush Limbaugh is still in business speaks to how tolerant our great nation is to those who are so ridiculously misguided. Sad that there even exists an audience to this trash. I guess that confirms that the same principle applies to how Bush "light" ...and his neocon / Tea Party cronies were elected. Hopefully this country stays alert before they do even more damage.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  6. Probably A. Weiner

    who wants to bet Limbaugh couldn't even define Marxism?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • doughnuts

      To be honest, he does get Karl and Harpo mixed up.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Mike

      or spell it

      December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  7. Texas

    Pope to Rush: Sober Up!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  8. mojonaamdi

    As Muslims, we are taught that Zakat/compulsory charity (at least 2.5% of one's earnings, providing you are above poverty level) belongs to the poor. That means, that it is NOT ours, even though we may have earned it. This Pope, God Belss him, is certainly a man of God and I respect what he done since becoming Pope. A true follower of Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him), would always put the poor, needy and sick above all else. This Pope is a blessing for the Church. As for Rush Limbaugh, who cares about teh filth that comes out of his mouth. God sent him a sign with his hearing problem, but the man is still not thankful and thinks that he is Greater than the Almighty.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      muslims are only allowed to give charity to other muslims

      December 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • igaftr

      "God sent him a sign with his hearing problem"...
      Really? Where is the cause/effect of this....how do you know god had anything to do with it?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  9. Catherine

    And the dichotomy of right-wing, Republican, Christians positions marches on. They like to cite Christian values when opposing abortion and gay rights, but let the Pope expouse views that according to the New Testament are much the same views as Jesus and he should keep his mouth shut. Limbaugh would have had a problem with Jesus expelling the money changes from the temple because, after all, that was a business enterprise. Stuart Varney doesn't want the Pope trying to influence his vote, then he should try to keep his religion out of politics. How inconvenient for the Christian right when the Pope actually starts putting in to practice Jesus' teachings. I wonder if Obamacare included free ED meds and oxycotin for all and the Pope came out in favor of those provisions, if Rush would get on board.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  10. Tim

    And his point would be what? Francis isn't saying anything that Jesus wouldn't say.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • christine kauffman

      i could not agree more with what you said here....

      December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  11. Sal Martorano

    The pig is just in it for the money. The pig makes over 20 million dollars a year spewing his hate. 

    December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  12. Just a Guy

    Nothing wrong with capitalism or trickle down economics – its the hearts of men that needs fixing

    December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Catherine

      Good luck with changing the hearts of men when there are people like Limbaugh who only care about number one.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  13. Jack

    Limbaugh is an idiot. Why do people still listen to that clown?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      and it bothers you why?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Mike Davis

      He's a reverse Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson. And he makes 20 mill a year doing it.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Joe P

      He is an idiot, and sadly leads a flock of idiots. His mentality is a big part of what is wrong in the world today.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  14. John

    Gorillas are much smarter than Rush Limbaugh. I still can't believe that our Justice, Antonin Scalia, actually believe that Rush Limbaugh Show is greatest radio talk show ever. That would explain why Scalia's brain is irreversible fried.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  15. Big_D

    I wonder when the GOP will come back to their senses and stop listening to this drug addled moron. He is gross and disrespectful. No wonder he is the face of the GOP. A petulant child with no morals.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • John

      Unfortunately, nearly 1/3 of Republicans working in government are listening to this idiot.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • Lemon Talks

        and what do liberals listen to?

        December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • doughnuts

          Music. It helps you be more productive at work.

          December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
        • Guitarguy

          Most likely music. It makes more sense than Rush.

          December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • letstalkfacts

          In this case, the Pope

          December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • As Far As Siam

          Jesus.

          December 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  16. FactChecker

    Stuart Varney complains the Pope has linked religion to politics. Isn't that what the conservatives in the GOP do? As for Limbaugh, he wouldn't know a real Socialist or a Marxist if he ran into one. Anyone who doesn't ascribe to the conservative babble is automatically labeled as one. Plus, Limbaugh would say anything to raise his ratings or get in the news. His character is a far cry from The Pope's.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  17. Sid Prejean

    Funny how self-styled conservatives like the Rushman can so easily confuse Marxism with Christianity.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      did you even read the article?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • John

        From reading your other post, I don't think you understood this article at all.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  18. ffc

    Welll then, any enemy of Rush Limbaugh is a friend of mine.

    God bless Pope Francis, and may our world take a new direction.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  19. Rembrant

    Someone still listens to Limbaugh? Oh thats right- the same people watching Fox "News".

    December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      how come you don't like fox news?

      its the highest rated news in the USA, CNN is the lowest

      December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
      • FactChecker

        I guess there are alot of idiots with time on their hands. Or, Fox News serves as a form of self-affirmation of un-Christian behavior.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • Lemon Talks

          what do you specifically not like about it?

          December 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • Just Passin' By

        You've confused ratings with quality.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • loganthehuge2

        It's the most watched, not highest rated. There is a difference.

        It's the most watched because its largest demographic is composed of retirees (65+) who watch all day.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • igaftr

        Ratings do not mean they are better.

        With morons like Megan Kelly on-board, you will never get solid journalism.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • mark

        How come so many people watch Fox news?
        #1 It's not news, it's pure fiction entertainment
        #2 It's the same reason why people rubberneck to see a gory car crash, they just can't help themselves.
        #3 there is something about preaching hate and fear that draws a segment of people like flies to, umm, you know.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • cjm71

        Highest cable tv news network, there's a big difference between cable tv and all news networks.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
      • Andrew

        The only reason Fox News has such high ratings is because most people 50 and over watch it. The only reason why most older people over 50 side with Republicans is because Republicans have said they won't let social security benefits change, even thought the system needs a major overhaul to be sustainable and it was Republicans who used it as a piggy bank in the first place.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • billobrienschindimple

        Isn't it ironic that the same mouth breathers who tout Fox's cable rating, are the same mouth breathers who constantly blast the "mainstream media".

        December 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  20. Sal Martorano

    Only idiots believe in what limbaugh and fox news reports. 

    December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
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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.