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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
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(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. E. Stanley Jones

    At last, a Christian pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  2. Jack The Tripper

    It will be interesting to see...will Republican Catholics follow their religious leader and his interpretations of the teachings of Jesus or will they choose rush, the GOP and greed? There's not a lot of middle ground there.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      not that many Republican catholics. At least conservative ones.

      Pope kind of goes against the idea of free will and that the Bible is the word of God. It isn't up to one guy's interpretation.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
      • Jack The Tripper

        Over half of U.S. Catholics are republican and republicans are conservative.

        His interpretation is a huge factor in the Catholic church. Go troll somewhere else where you might know what you are talking about.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Neal

      "There's not a lot of middle ground there."

      Rush has more than enough middle to go around...

      December 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  3. Dr.Tesla

    Did Americans vote for the Pope? Even if we did, does that mean we can't disagree with him?

    If he comes out for pedophilia, will liberals shout us down if we criticize him? lol

    December 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Matt

      If he comes out against pedophilia it would be a drastic change in church policy.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        what does wealth redistribution and arguments about capitalism have to do with Church? The Afterlife? etc/

        December 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
        • Matt

          Part of the church's job is to care for the well being of God's creations.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
        • Matt

          Again, if you are the type to believe in myth and fantasy.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          Big government doesn't take care of people. It spreads out misery.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
        • Matt

          Government of any kind does not inherently do anything. The people who make up that government however do, and the people of this country are corrupt, selfish, childish, ignorant, and hateful. Thus we have the world we live in.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • dreamduster

        They're against it but won't do anything about it.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Dr. Tesla

      I need attention. I'm a troll and I'm mad because people are being big meanies to my idol Rush. Boo hoo.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        all humans need attention. I'm better at getting it because I am funny.

        It is easy to satire liberals.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
        • Matt

          Might want to read up on the definitions of comedy, funny, and satire.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
        • Maddy

          No doubt, Matt. If Tesla thinks Rush is comedy, or satire, he doesn't know the meaning of the words. Much like Rush doesn't know the meaning of Marxism.

          And no, Tesla, you're not funny. You're a troll, and trolls are not funny.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • AAmir Khan

      Has he come out for pedophilia? But thanks anway for equating pedophilia with capitalism.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        The Pope ought to quit and go write for the Daily Kos.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  4. Dr.Tesla

    Liberals act like Rush and conservatives can't disagree with the Pope on anything. Kind of chilling.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • cleareye1

      It's wild-eyed ignorance vs fantasy man in the sky! What could go wrong?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  5. Dr.Tesla

    Jesus wants people to bend over for politicians when politicians demand more taxes. Politicians are the very angels of god.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      That would be the POPE!

      December 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
      • henrywester

        you are so funny!

        December 3, 2013 at 5:06 am |
    • RestonJeff

      Actually, He wants you to die.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  6. Mrs. Travis

    This POOP is going to lead you right smack in the middle of WW III ... the easirst way to end poverty.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Delusional nonsense.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  7. cleareye1

    Maybe Limbaugh is unaware that Catholicism predates Marxism? He is not known for his factual accuracy.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Craig

      Good post, except for the fact that everyone knows Marx followed Jesus by 2000 years. Even most liberals. And Rush Limbaugh is certainly intelligent, no matter if you agree with him or not.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  8. Owen Kellogg

    Not having read the Bible , I don't think Jesus would have approved of the wealthy steeling from the poor or the poor steeling from wealthy, that being said their maybe something wrong with the Pope's idea of using the government or some other power to steel/take/tax from one person and give someone else that did not earn it, Rush might be right

    December 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • cleareye1

      Limbaugh is as right as you are when you spell steal!

      December 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Dippy

      The way Owen spells "stealing" I don't think he's read anything!

      December 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  9. Adriana I. Pena

    Also Rush should know that the proper protocol to denounce the Pope is either

    1) Start shouting "No Popery!!!"

    or

    2) Nail a manifesto to a cathedralm door and then go on a diet of worms.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  10. Meohmy

    I sure would like to hear what the Catholic Tea Partyers like Paul Ryan, have to say in response to Rush. Will they defend their infallible Pope, who has called their bluff on social justice; or back the blowhard? I really wish a self-respecting reporter would ask one of them point blank. Please!

    December 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  11. cacique

    Francis words are just a different way saying that it is just immoral for the 3% or so of the world population to hold most of the world's wealth, leaving the 97% living off the crumbs the wealthy discard. The Popes' words are just another way of saying how unfair capitalism can be and how much suffering it inflicts on millions of people while they are slaved into producing the next layer of wealth, which the people can not get their fair share from. Limbaugh knows exactly what the Pope means, but prefers to play victim once more and to accuse him of preaching Marxism. What an ugly pig.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  12. John Howlett

    What's Rush preaching btw? (and who cares) Capitalism might be a great idea, if it only worked, it appears it does not, especially when the one percent rules the world and we have so many without food and basis human needs.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  13. John

    If Pope Francis REALLY believes in what he says, he will order the widespread sale of all the priceless historical artifacts in the Vatican and from all the ornate Catholic churches worldwide, (worth untold BILLIONS of dollars) and use the money to feed the poor and house the homeless woldwide. That alone would provide a tremendous amout of money for these good purposes and also show that the Catholic Church hierarchy is putting THEIR money where their mouth is and provide an excellent example to Christians everywhere. When I see this happen I will no longer doubt their sincerity.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Jake

      I totally agree.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  14. Adriana I. Pena

    Rush does not know the first thing about Argentina. If anything the Pope is Peronista. Peronistas do not like to be confused with Marxists, who they believe are out of touch with the national reality of Argentina, tryiing to make it fit an European model.

    The Pope might have read Marx – but I doubt that he takes it as serioulsy as Arturo Jauretche...

    December 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  15. TB

    Well at least he's not a Fascist like you Rush, I want to thank you for your continued help to the Democratic party.
    Three words for you. "Latino Catholic Vote".
    You're an even bigger moron than you think. Keep it up and the Republicans will stop listening to you.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  16. Harry Baxter

    Enjoy your next "sabbatical", Rush. It's coming within the week, followed by your new Wife not wanting your fat ass around the house, and divorcing you.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  17. Dr.Tesla

    People who complain most about capitalism are the laziest losers in society. They think everybody else is supposed to take care of them.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Matt

      Apparently, Rush Limbaugh has never read the new testament (along with a lot of the posters here apparently). He's one of the many fools twisting Christianity to manipulate people who identify themselves as Christians to vote against their best interests.

      I don't know what kind of a pampered upbringing you had, or if your mind is just demented, but people complaining about unfettered capitalism aren't all lazy, many of them work hard at two or three jobs just to try and make ends meet but still don't because $7.25 an hour is NOT a liveable wage. Used to be if you worked hard in this country, even if your job was seen as "lesser" by absentminded fools that don't realize that every cog of society is important, you could afford a car and a decent house. You would have health insurance as well, and you MIGHT just be able to send your kids to college! Man, it's sad to what we've come to as a nation.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  18. rc roeder

    well there goes Rush's chance at Sainthood.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  19. Chuck

    Limbaugh doesn't grasp the Pope's choice of name.... St. Francis. Research into St. Francis will totally explain the Pope's reasoning and beliefs...

    December 2, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  20. Dr.Tesla

    Jesus wants me to love Obama because he tried his best to design a website. lol

    December 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Mary

      You have devolved into trolldom. Shut up.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        Obama and his people can't design a website but we want them to run the healthcare industry for us because they know better. lol

        December 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
        • Matt

          Can you design a website?

          December 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • Mary

          You are a partisan troll. Shut up.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • biglio

      and you are exactly why Rush is irrelevant, because it caters to people with your intellectual ability...........

      December 2, 2013 at 5:28 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.