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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. George

    Any one ever hear of responsible capitalism where the company actually takes care of the employee and pays them a fair wage??? Or just the capitalism where companies drive employees into the ground and find themselves still faced with having to apply for section 8 housing?

    December 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Harry Baxter

      Maybe Google and a few others, but they probably are one in a thousand, or less.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  2. Dr.Tesla

    Jesus would love ObamaCare. He wants people to pay more for healthcare

    December 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Matt

      Actually Jesus would have been of the mind that healthcare should be free to all. He is after all a communist.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        lol, how would anything work if it was free to all? You live in a fantasy world.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  3. r

    Is Rush an idiot? He is accusing the pope of saying the same thing Jesus said. It is fine to disagree, but at least say that you disagree with the teachings of Christ. How many times do the gospels talk about the evils of hording wealth and how hard it is for a rich person to enter heaven? Rush should educate himself about the Pope's faith before he critisizes the man.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  4. Dr.Tesla

    "Jesus would love the movie Brokeback Mountain" average lib

    December 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  5. Paul

    Wow, to be so far to the right that you can call the Pope a lefty Marxist.

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

    "Jesus would support whatever I do" Average smarmy arrogant liberal

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

    For all of those who wonder how Jesus thought about money remember he's the one who said that it would be easier for a camel to pass by the hole in a needle than for a rich to get into heaven.....
    The Pope is just saying what Jesus Christ would've said.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      didn't he also say better to teach a man how to fish than just give him fish ?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
      • Paul

        He also gave out bread and fish.

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

          he could perform miracles. He didn't even have to work. lol

          December 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
      • C

        No, he didn't.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
      • Mike

        No.

        That's a chinese proverb, not christian. Jesus gave out free fish and bread to the masses.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  8. shawbrooke

    Protestant churches teach against the culture of prosperity all the time. Fleshed out, the churches are against – greedy gathering of wealth that is unfair to others (eg wages unpaid, wages too low, taking advantage of poor); situations where the poor do not make enough to sustain themselves; not looking after the sick, the young and the old; growing inequality of wealth and income; show off spending; spending that you cannot afford, leading to debts that cripple your financial position etc. Mr Limbaugh needed to figure out what the pontiff was talking about, and then get busy and tell us how capitalism can accomplish those tasks.

    Capitalism in the US does need to reform itself, because the poor in the US do not have enough to live on. I'm talking about the lack of full time jobs, low wages generally, the way society is set up to raise the price of basics like rent and food, and the lack of health care that Obamacare does not address. I'm sure the Pope knows that socialism was a bust and left even more people poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  9. Juxtapoz

    So sick and tired of cons preaching this nonsense about how nothing has brought more people out of poverty than capitalism. Look back at the Wall Street disaster of 2008, or the "Great Depression" before that, and TRY to find any system that has landed MORE people behind the poverty line in such a short span of time. On top of that, the same right-wing cons who praise capitalism as the reason that millions of people have, truthfully, found a way out of poverty, support politicians who keep wages stagnated, attack the very CONCEPT of a minimum wage despite the skyrocketing inflation and general cost of living, and support one war after another that makes a handful of people VERY rich while millions suffer, and thousands of troops come home with no legs(and thus, lose their jobs and often never recover).

    Crediting corporate America, in its current state, with helping people get out of poverty is like offering praise to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi war machine for reducing the unemployment rate. Sure, the Nazis helped bring Germany out of the sorry state it was in after it was blamed for a world war it didn't even start, but they did THAT by creating a self-destructive monstrosity that made things FAR worse for the majority just so that a lucky few could live out their delusions of godhood.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      Do you, honestly, believe Francis cares about the plight of the poor?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  10. whatyouare8891

    Pope: Limbaugh preaches high-cholesterol and drug addiction.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  11. Sbul

    LMBO – Limburger obviously doesn't understand Marxism which as a basic tenet denies the existence of God and saying it's pure Marxism is pure sophistry. As far as the FOX/FAUX News guys is concerned – the right wing churches have been attempting to manipulate politics for years and FAUX news aids them when it fits their agenda. Of course, he wants to influence your politics as does FOX Limburger and the rest. Do your homework and research what Jesus said as well as Karl Marx, don't let this "common taters" tell you what to think.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  12. George

    So where are my comments???

    December 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • JJ

      Jesus smote them.

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

        No CNN did. They don't like rebels.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  13. Belseth

    Yep the Pope really crossed the line with Rush when he denounced greed!

    December 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  14. PBC

    TROUBLE is brewing.... you don't dis the wealthy without a price 😦

    December 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  15. Richard

    Mayor Rob Ford, crack user, alcoholic, basic jerk, net worth in the tens of millions: 'I'm just a regular guy fighting for the poor and persecuted by rich elitists...'

    Rush Limbaugh, net worth $370 million. Probably thinks poor people get what they deserve, and the rich work hard for it.

    Sarah "I can see Russia from here" Palin, net worth $12 million.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  16. Ray

    Doughboy Limbo (how low can he go) is the white version of Jessie Sharpton.
    It'd be great if Rush O'Hannity (and everyone like them) would move to Texas then SECEDE FROM THE UNION!
    I promise I'll lobby my Congressman to vote to allow it.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  17. Oh Please!!!!!

    And the pope asked "Rush who?"

    December 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  18. tjwilson

    Marxism is an economic theory. Much of the world automatically links Marxism with Communism, which makes it something evil. In reality all economic systems are flawed, if strictly adhered to. Keynesian calls for government assistance for business, which in the long run, is a backbreaking for the working man. Captialism is survival of the wealthiest, while Marxist's believe the average man should share the wealth. No one should be surprised that wealthy individuals like Rush Limbaugh are not in favor of sharing their wealth. But I missed the connection between a belief in an economic theory and a religious belief.

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

      Tell the Pope to stop talking about economics and non-religious issues.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
      • Matt

        Only when republicans stop talking about religion and non-policy issues.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          I don't see Republicans ever talk about religion. Pretty much run away form it. lol

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

          Well I guess if you bury your head in the sand for long enough you can fail to notice anything.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
      • bp

        Dr. Tesla or who ever you are under the covers, have you heard of soilent Green. One day you might end up as one if you keep supporting capitalism

        December 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • What?

          It's "Soylent."

          December 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
      • JIM

        HEY TESLA, YOU REALLY A DOCTOR? A DOCTOR OF WHAT? DOCTOR TO RUSH LIMBAUGH AND HIS PILL SUPPLIER?
        IT IS YOU AND YOUR PARTY THAT TALKS RELIGION EVERY PHQING ELECTION. YOU GUYS RUN TO THE QUACK TV "PREACHERS" TO TRY TO GET THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE TO VOTE FOR YOUR PHONY RELIGIOUS MORALS AND FAMILY VALUES.
        BESIDES, WHO THE HELL IS RUSH LIMBAUGH TO GIVE A CRITIQUE ABOUT WHAT THE HOLY FATHER HAS TO SAY?
        THIS BLOWHARD HAS NEVER,EVER TOLD THE TRUTH ON HIS RADIO GIG.
        HE AND THAT VARNEY CLOWN TRY TO TELL HIS DITTO HEADS TO VOTE REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVES EVERY ELECTION EVEN THOUGH THEY, LIKE THE TEA PARTY, ARE OUT TO ENSLAVE AMERICAN WORKERS AND PUSH FOR MORE TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH,LIKE THEMSELVES, WHILE DENYING THE AMERICAN WORKERS A BETTER WAGE.
        YOU NEED TO "LOSE" YOUR DOCTOR LICSENCE TO SAVE AMERICA.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  19. John Koziel

    There is no such thing as "unregulated capitalism" ( or "unrestrained capitalism"), never happened, never will. The government will always have a hand in it. That's why they call it government.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  20. Ian

    Not even Limpdic's momma will be able to this train of pain from coming...

    December 2, 2013 at 5:05 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.