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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. tomf

    Rush Limbaugh is a bafoon~!!

    December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • PBC

      You missed the capital B

      December 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  2. my reply

    Wow, so not sharing is stealing? What??? Taking something that is not yours is stealing. This also changes the way we would define poor and in need. No one needs to work if we're all going to share property and money for the common good. If I express a need I can take your items because I "need" them. Now I need your nice house and nice cars etc. You have to share them with me because I need them more than you do. Sounds like chaos. That is a terrible philosophy to control society.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Matt

      If you went to college I suggest you ask for your money back.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  3. Rush Limbo

    What a moron this guy !!! How does he get so many people to listen to him ???? Only stupid ignorants can listen to him. If you are one that agree , sorry but I just insulted you.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  4. biglio

    Jesus was a Marxist....deal with it.
    The Pope is just expressing what Jesus would've said too.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  5. Dr.Tesla

    Rush would make a great Pope. He would advocate capitalism and personal responsibliy and striving to be the best you can be. We don't hear this message much anymore from leaders.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  6. Perhapsif

    The Catholics finally got a pope who is trying to move the church to act more "Christ like". You know, doing those commie things like caring for the sick and poor. The nerve of that pope! It's a good thing we still have real Christians like Rush around to identify false Christians like the pope. Long live Rush and his minions!

    December 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      Your definition of Christ=like is be more like you and do things you support. You basically think you are Jesus. lol

      December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  7. eve hall

    Jesus was against capitalism, and over turned the tables of the money changers, which are equivalent to our capitalist accountants. If rush limbaugh read the bible, he would know that pope Francis is only trying to return to biblical principles.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Keith Long

      The Pope should practice what he preaches. The wealth of the Catholic church is immeasurable. They are the largest landowners and money grabbing organization in the world.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  8. Dr.Tesla

    Libs act like Marxism is really hard to spot. Nobody is a Marxist in their view. lol

    December 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • FrmrMrine

      Corporate Marxism. No taxes for the rich. Tax breaks for companies that already make billions in profits.

      As someone who actually fought and bled for this country (which you obviously did not, college deferment boy) I'd rather have fought for the Pope's brand of Marxism than Limbaugh's.

      Let's face it. All you are really arguing about is who is going to get the taxpayer's money. Taxes have never gone down for normal people under the Republicans. Only the Democrats have reduced takes on the middle class a well as the rich.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  9. abbydelabbey

    Limbaugh wouldn't recognize Marxism if Karl Marx bit him on Limbaugh's rather large derriere.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Matt

      He's so high I wouldn't be surprised if he believes he's had conversations with Mr. Marx.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
      • FrmrMrine

        It's his schtick. He has to keep getting more and more outrageous or else people will stop listening to him and his corporate sponsors will move on to another loud mouth. The Rushie would have to get a real job and actually work for a living. I wonder if he'd be able to pass the mandatory drug test.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  10. PBC

    I didn't know Limbaugh was running for Pope ? When did that happen ?

    December 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  11. Dr.Tesla

    god only loves you if you are gay or have an abortion.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Matt

      Since there is no god I highly doubt he "loves" anyone.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        Bible is pretty tough on gays.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
        • Matt

          So is Iran, Russia, or NK. Please move to one. That way you can live with like minded individuals and we can be free of your ignorance.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          those are your favorite countries I thought. We can't criticize those countries and act like we run the world, right? Isn't that how liberals think? lol

          December 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • Matt

          No. Liberals believe all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as evidenced by the 13 colonies of liberal(for their time) folks on the North American continent.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  12. TheThinker

    I do realize that a person can like the Marx Brothers, and CNN will report it as Marxism, but still, Rush, what were you thinking?

    American democracy has successfully been defeated by this simple principle of "divide and conquer". Most of the American voters are naive enough to believe the nonsensical ramblings of people like Rush and Pierce are actually meaningful. The true purpose of these nonsensical news-celebs is to agitate the voters into a polarized frenzy of namecalling "liberal" or "right winger". There is no middle ground, there is no thoughtful discussion, there is rabid namecalling.

    To this lofty social experiment, Rush dares to bring Pope Francis. Tsk tsk.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  13. monap

    oh pleeease! it makes me so sad to read this! finally a pope comes around who really lives and preaches what jesus probably wanted his successors to live and preach and now he is a marxist?????

    December 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Matt

      Anyone who tries to take money from the rich is a marxist. Haven't you heard?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
      • NCT

        Wow, Obama is a marxist by your own admission. He wants to take from the rich and give to the poor also. So much for capitalizm. It will be dead in this country soon. China will own us and boot all of us out.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • PBC

      Well of course Limbaugh's handlers told him to demonize this Pope, a new enemy...

      December 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • dreamduster

      What you Biblical scholars fail to see is that no where in the Gospels is it ascribed to Jesus that He said, "Take from those according to ability; give to those according to need." That was Karl Marx, and look how well that's worked out. Socialism has never worked, except for those at the very top. Party Members don't have to suffer under Obamacare either. When all the wealth is drained from a society and no one will work, the government must start arresting people and making them work for bread and water. How do you think Stalin got gold diggers in Kolyma, Siberia?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  14. 1stLieutenant

    So I guess when Jesus up-ended the money changers at the Temple on the Mount that Rush would have declared him an anti-capitalist revoutionary. Well, that's what he was! Eternal life and capitalism don't go together. Jesus WAS as socialist and you have to be one if you follow or believe in Jesus! "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person than to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24)

    December 2, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • PBC

      Well you see what it got HIM.... look for an assassination attempt soon 😦

      December 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • TheThinker

      Capitalism is not by definition inconsistent with Christianity.
      Capitalism is simply an economic concept. Now for any particular capitalist to launch a venture which will knowingly destroy lives, THAT is against Christianity. I personally witnessed some developers try to build a toxic factory next door to an elementary school. They concocted a presentation filled with fallacies which distilled into "toxic fumes are good for children". This developer cared more about money than whether children got cancer. It's a sin to judge people, but all I can say is I would never ever ever do something which could hurt children.
      Another developer built low income housing for poor people. He made money, good for him. Poor people got houses, so good again for the developer.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  15. Lainie11

    Obama praises Francis. This ought to tell all Catholics what Francis is doing. If people can't see the difference, then the Church is basically gone. Marxism and Christianity cannot coexist. This has been long in coming, but the truth. The Catholic Church does not exist any more, it is a social gathering of like minded individuals, who like to party.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  16. Carlos L

    Rush & Palin perfect combination for Republican slander. The arm pit of truth and honesty.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  17. Rush Limbo

    This guy is a joke. CNN please remove this artlicle and anything related to this guy!!!. He must gotten back to the pills because he is geeting worse by the minute. Now criticizing the Pope????? Who is next ??

    December 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  18. Skeptic

    ""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..."

    Too funny! Coming from a guy who has NO expertise or education in either area, and whose only skill is bombast! Too, too funny!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      But he sure knows how to allign himself with all the wrong political rulers, something Jesus never did. Why do you suppose Israel is fed up with Francis?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  19. sonny chapman

    Almost 4,000 POSTS !! This is BIG !!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  20. KevinC

    Everyone knows Jesus threw the commies out of the temple, not the moneylenders.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Matt

      Maybe they were commie money lenders.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:58 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.