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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. Richard F. Kessler

    What troubles me most about Limbaugh’s remarks is his underlying ignorance combined with arrogant certainty of his stated conclusion. Limbaugh has no notion, it seems, of papal encyclicals and the Catholic doctrine of social justice which preceded Marxism by hundreds of years. The Catholic view of social justice emphasizes the dignity of work and eating one’s bread in the sweat of one’s labor. The improvement of moral character individually and collectively requires each person to be treated with and to treat others with dignity and to have enough to be able to become functioning members of the communion of the faithful. The Church’s advocacy for social justice proceeds from the pastoral function of the clergy to shepherd the sheep. It is not a plea for distributive justice (Marx) but a plea to provide the conditions necessary to communicate and spread the message of the Gospels. People who have nothing to eat and whose grinding poverty rob them of their sense of self-worth cannot feel the love of the Gospel or find the strength to love their fellow man.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Maddy

      Rush doesn't know what he is spewing 3/4 of the time. That people believe him is astounding.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • KellyF

      Very well said! LIKE LIKE LIKE!

      December 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  2. spockmonster

    "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."

    Church Lady: "Now who could have gotten to the Pope? Could it have been (loud voice) J-E-S-U S !?!?!?

    December 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Maddy

      It's pure bs that comes out of Rush's mouth, so I guess it's equal.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  3. spockmonster

    "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."

    Church Lady says: Now who could have "gotten to the Pope"? Could it have been (loudly) "J-E-S-U-S" ?

    December 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Victor Maffei

      So was Jesus Christ, and Francis of Assisi, and Saint Patrick, and Martin, and ...........!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      Jesus? Try the Anti Christ...

      December 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  4. Nitchka465mj

    How much is enough? I own a company with 41 people, I sign their paychecks ever 2 weeks this makes me a capitalist. Over the years I have helped 6 employee's avoid personal bankruptcy lending them $$$ and hooking them up with financial planers to teach them how to budget and manage their finances. I am a capitalist with a sense of humanity. unfortunately the world is not full of boss's like me. Corporations, private equity firms and the majority of small and mid sized business's are run by ruthless greedy people. I know many productive intelligent people that have sacrificed much for their employers only to be laid off for the sake of corporate profits as the jobs go overseas were labour is cheaper. Limbaugh is a sound bite for the greedy & heartless, the Pope is telling us that an economic system left solely in the hands of the greedy creates much suffering for many people. The system needs to be a balance of left and right to make the world a better place for all. Start with government funded university education for all. Imagine a world where more people where educated and the possibilities are endless.

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

      Jesus also denounced the wealthy for praising another God before the Father. Jesus promised in Matthew 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Those who enjoy their gains through exploitation, manipulation, hoarding and exclusion on Earth, they will not be allowed to enter heaven. Those who practice the true sence of Christianity, must practice it plainly and humbly...like the Amish, others surrender their comfort to help others like getting up very early to volunteer to help feed others not as fortunately, go where disaster strikes like hurricanes to assist those in need. True Christianity is self sacrifice for the sake of others, not just memorizing the Bible to bully others. If you feel you have qualified yourself as a good Christian, then there is nothing to be concerned about.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  5. Patty

    Far from rich. Did Dave Ramsey consider faithful Christians, pastors in communities too small to support a pastor...or the fact that a 3000 church can pay persons that are not head pastors such low wages that they have to seek gov. Assistance...are these people shuned by God despite their dedicationn to a ministry position that does not get the prestige of the head pastor position. Someone should compare mega church pastor salaries with others wn their church....hmmmm do they care ab the poor on their staff,poor bc of what they are paid to serve the lord but others who are rich and serve the lord.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Maddy

      Are you on the right blog? This is about Rush and the Pope.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  6. Chauntel

    I usually ignore this man because he is just full of hot air and he is not to be taken seriously. Rush Limbaugh is the original troll before that term had a name who says inflammatory, purile things to draw attention to himself. But calling The Pope a "Marxist" is just classless. This goes beyond the bounds of civility. It's hard to believe some otherwise good people hang on every word Rush says.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Maddy

      I agree totally.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Dalia1707

      And because we are definitely living in the last days there are those who proclaim themselves Christians, who will actually believe this anti-Christ. But these things must be.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  7. Carmen

    The problem with the Christian right in this country is that they have never actually read the bible. If he thinks the pope is a commie wait until he reads about Jesus

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

      it is likely you never read the Bible. pretty tough on the gays, the very best among us. lol

      December 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  8. Jerry Stone

    Three cheers for the Pope...

    December 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  9. Dr.Tesla

    Matt talks about hateful people after he suggests somebody should murder El Rushbo.

    This is your modern liberal.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  10. Patrick

    It's absolutely pathetic that the only "catholic" quoted in this article is Christopher Hale, a former Obama staffer. He no more speaks for Catholics than I speak for Democrats.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  11. Joe Btfsplk

    How can Mr. Varney report the news with any credibility when he cannot differentiate criticism of some aspects of an economic system with criticism of "a specific political system?"

    There are many different political systems which engage in the economic system referenced by the Pope and I don't read where the Pope criticises any of them, including ours here in the US which, I assume, is the only one in which Varney gets to vote.

    As for Mr. Limburger, I expect he wouldn't know Karl Marx from Zeppo.

    Perhaps Mr. Varney was absent the week they taught that in his high school government or economics classes.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  12. Ray

    Ever notice how when Rush O'Hannity opens his mouth, his face (enormous as it may be) completely disappears.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  13. Time For You To Grow Up...

    The rise in popularity of Rush Limbaugh is directly proportional to the diminishing IQ in America...

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

      Rush's heyday was in the 80's and 90's.
      He's now reduced to being needy for attention (much like the Rev. Jessie Sharpton.)

      December 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  14. Juan

    The 15 million who listen to rush and think he speaks for the middle class are on the wrong side of history. This man spews hates for true Americans. His rants on Obama, the pope, democrats, and even moderate republicans are flat out racist and ill informed. He and others like him are holding this country back

    December 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  15. Steve

    Normally I would not care enough to comment about the Pope or Limbaugh, but Rush is a former dope addict who illegally got prescription drugs. And he make a living pointing fingers at other people. No wonder the conservative movement can't get enough young blood. What a pompous jerk.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  16. Patty

    I left teaching to work for a church. I have a calling. I work with persons with special needs and am seeking my second graduate degree.

    Working as a teacher, I was never poor or rich. I always worked hard hours upon hours at school and beyond. Trying to balance a career that was supposed to be kid friendly...with raising my own kid. Turned out it was kid friendly for every other kid but my own child.

    None the less following my call into ministry, I did not bc rich but now make a 1/3 of what I made as a teacher. I know other pastors who have had to seek some form of welfare to afford to support their families. I know others who wanted to go into ministry but couldn't afford to make so much less.

    I love God, serve him and am

    December 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  17. Herbert Bruntel

    Rush, the loud mouthed druggie, critizing the pope! Don't make me laugh! All he's saying is that the wealthy should help the poor. That's very clear in the bible !

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

      He's a straight up dope fiend .

      December 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  18. Lynn

    Good job rush , good way to make catholic friends !

    December 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  19. jheron

    The first Christians set up communal societies...since Jesus' teachings are very similar to Marxism.
    I wonder if Rush would condemn Jesus Christ as easily as he is condemning Pope Francis? Of course he would. Rush worships the dollar before all else.

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

      Well I guess we should do everything the first Christians did. You seem to imply they were perfect. You go first.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  20. Ray

    Actually... I've changed my mind on Rush O'Hannity.
    Let them blab.
    I voted against Bush (twice,) and he got elected anyway, but look what he did! Had I known he'd single handedly destroy the conservative party, I'd have voted for him 4 times!
    Let them talk, it can only do more good.
    ^^

    December 2, 2013 at 5:29 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.