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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. mikea

    Dogs fart......the caravan moves on..

    December 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  2. IronCelt

    The Pope is echoing Jesus, who also was not popular with the leaders in his time. In fact, they disliked him so much that they killed him.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  3. FedUpAlready

    It's not OK to help the poor but it is OK to allow the wealthy to nickel and dime and sometimes downright gouge the rest of us so that they can become billionaires? Somehow these idiots that don't want "Marxist redistribution of wealth" don't get that the wealth HAS BEEN REDISTRIBUTED!!! It has been moved from the masses to the 1%!!! Sorry, I don't agree that my car insurance should double for the rest of my life because the insurance company had to pay one-third of my pre-accident premium to a claimant while their CEO becomes a BILLIONNAIRE!!! That is not just...it's moral bankruptcy!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  4. Cpt. Obvious

    Why blame the pope for reteaching what Jesus said? Does Rush really expect Jesus to change his stance to match his? I knew Rush was arrogant, but I never figured he wanted to change the words of Christ. Wow!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Mary

      Rush is an idiot who has no clue about Jesus or his teachings. Just pandering to his ignorant red neck base.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
      • sonny chapman

        So many Red Necks(your word) are ignorant of the Message of Jesus as found in the Four Gospels. Shame on their Preachers. P.S.- Rednecks are Creations of the Father too.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
        • Matt

          Which doesn't change the fact they are ignorant tools.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  5. Tgorzynski

    The Pope is either knowingly or unknowingly fulfilling bible prophecy.......

    December 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Yes, it would be a surprise to find out that the pope has studied the bible.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  6. Denise

    Why in the world does anyone care what Rush L thinks? I'm not Roman Catholic, but the Pope has impressed me with his emphasis on compassion and service to others. I think he's right too, that as a whole Christians have become so obsessed with social/political issues that we've lost sight of the real meaning of Christianity.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  7. WEEDY

    cannot believe this is a surprise to anyone.. when inconsequential people behave as predicted.. oh well.. lets go have some coffee and talk about something important.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  8. daouu

    Pope will use horse and would eat as little as the poor in Latin America FIRST!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  9. Corey Aasen

    From what I can see Limbaugh donates about .006% of his income to charity, if people like him controlled ALL the money on the planet, you could expect about the same...

    December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  10. Ehsan

    to Rush, Jesus was a Marxist too

    December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  11. Robert Constant

    Pope Francis attacked the Republican Party for its callous indifference to to the poor. He considers it a violation of the Commandment, "Thou shalt Not Kill." It is Catholic dogma that when the Pope speaks Ex Cathedra on matters of faith or morality his word is law for Catholics.
    So Republican Catholics are going to have to make a real choice. Either they will be guided by the spiritual leader of their church and withdraw support from the Republican "trickle down" economy advocates or they will choose their love of money over allegiance to their religion and follow Rush Limbaugh into his world of hatred and bigotry , his own little Hell.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  12. Rick Reid

    Well, well well. Rush and Sara-two peas in a pod. A pod of whatever. The two of them call themselves Christian when in fact they are closer to Fascists. I'm so sick of these pathetic people. Isn't there some way to shut them up? I guess they have a right to their own opinions...but frankly I'm sick of their opinions. They just plain suck.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Mary

      One calls him too liberal and the other calls him a Marxist. Neither know what the hell they're talking about.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Chuck

    If Rush & Sarah are against it, then it has to be good.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  14. Lee

    I don't understand why any reasonable person would give a self indulgent drug addict so much credibility or give him a platform from which he can spew his hate speech. Why would CNN, a self proclaimed center for journalism, choose to repeat nonsense without challenge. Rush is a self serving promoter of no great intellect that says outrageous things to try to stay relevant.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Neal

      Sadly humans do like watching train wrecks and Rush is nothing if not a train wreck. His listeners are waiting for him to say something else explosive. He gets paid by the shock, if he didn't say this stupid shlt he would have dropped off the radar years ago, lost his job and would be sitting at home in his overstreched tighty whities eating a bowl of fruit loops out of a salad bowl while he yells at his television.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  15. Ishmael Finn

    Ya know, I'm not religious at all but this Pope does seem to be leading by example, not from the comfort of a studio behind a microphone. Once listeners realize that Limbaugh says the things he says not because he believes it, but because the audience believes it and that makes him a lot of money, they will stop listening.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  16. LollieM

    If Rush doesn't like what the Pope has to say, wait till he hears what Jesus said! Rush is a hater. His wealth and his world is built upon everything that the Pope has denounced. Of course Rush has to attack it. He has something to protect and he certainly doesn't want his lack of ethics or morality to be pointed out to a large segment of conservatives.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • John

      Rush is fortunate that people are willing to pay vast amounts of money to be entertained. That is, after all, what he is, a radio and television entertainer. He's smart enough to have duped millions of people out of millions of dollars based on their need to be entertained, their inability to think for themselves and their psychological need to hear the words of someone else that thinks like them. A fool and his money.....

      December 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  17. Brother Maynard

    I'm wondering how US politicians will respond to this. Espcially the Catholic Repbulicans.
    Will they side with Rush ? or Francis??

    December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Matt

      Rush. He is their puppet after all.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Renee

      The core Catholics will side with Frank, as he is God's envoy to earth.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      Choose God or mammon. Can't pick both. Matthew 6,24.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • yvonne

      they will side with King Rush

      December 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  18. Bill

    Going to church to save your soul while hoarding your good fortune as your fellow man is suffereing, is not Christian and will not lead to your salvation. Salvation cannot be bought but your soul can be sold. Christianity...and the Pope,,,are not against Capitalism, only the social ills that can result from unbridled greed...when money becomes a false god....or "the Precious" (Lord of the Rings). As one poster above mentioned, Gates and Buffet..both Capitalist icons are part of a foundation that gives a huge chunk of their change to helping society. You don't have to be a Marxist to care for your fellow man. Rush is too preoccupied with his "Precious".

    December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  19. TomNPitt

    It's obvious Rush is not on the side of Catholics. I wonder when it will become apparent he's not FOR any Christian organizations. Just what Conservative belief being pushed by the Republican's seeking political office mirror a Christian, Biblical belief. The only issue I can think of is abortion. The rest of it seems to fall under the rich succeeding at a cost to the poor. And Rush is one of the richest of the rich he supports and promotes!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  20. bluesky

    A serious journalistic column would not place the pictures of these two men anywhere near each other. RL doesn't deserve to be mentioned in civil discourse. Thanks CNN for continually lowering what gets sadly referred to as "public debate."

    December 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Matt

      It's the internet. Get over it.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:53 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.