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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. dkeller2929

    Jabba the hutt speaks.........

    December 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  2. Dr.Tesla

    Rush = funniest man alive, funnier than George Carlin, as funny as Seinfield.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • RestonJeff

      Tesla=bereft of humor.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  3. Kevin

    Rush probably would have called Jesus a communist if he had existed today. Right wingers use the terms "socialist" and "communist" and "marxist" so much they've started to lose their meanings. I bet Rush isn't even sure what any of them mean.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      lol if Jesus was a socialist then yes Rush would call him one. lol no surprise there

      December 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Matt

      I love when idiots use socialism and communism in the same sentence like they are the same thing. It's funny.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        they are both forms of collectivism.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
        • Matt

          They are completely different from each other, much like capitalism is completely different from each of them. That's why socialists and communists don't get along.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          both emphasize government over the individual, and anti capitalism creeds

          December 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
        • Matt

          Wrong, but thanks for playing.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
        • RestonJeff

          Keep talking, Tesla. Every post shows how ignorant you really are.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  4. BT Richards

    And this man is the moral centre of todays GOP....
    The GOP is done.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • RestonJeff

      Can't be too soon.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
      • middle america man

        I was hoping just to vote them out at the polls. Now I fear that God will take them out first with lightning bolts. Don't stand next to a Republican, just saying...

        December 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  5. ndoneill

    Act:2 32-35

    32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  6. KJ

    Limbaugh doesn't want to feel guilty about being wealthy.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
  7. Dr.Tesla

    Rush singlehandly raises more money for blood cancer research every year than any other person in America and then he matches it.

    Boom.

    This is the man you want to demonize because of political disagreements? This guy?

    December 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      I am a cancer survivor

      Rush = hero

      December 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
      • Matt

        Wow.... never thought I'd root for cancer. Kind of fitting he supports it I guess, since he also supports all the things that create it.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
        • ya right!

          This is no DR. but a Rush poster trying to cushion the impact of article....

          December 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
        • Matt

          Actually he's a terrible troll. As a successful one I'm endeavoring to show him how it's done.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          oh yeah I'm sure Rush is worried about what the Pope thinks or liberals who read CNN religion blog. lol some impact

          December 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • That's What Jesus Would Do

      as opposed to demonizing the Pope... yeah gotcha... money gets you into heaven for sure.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • RestonJeff

      He gave only 108 thousand dollars TOTAL to charity.

      Boom

      Catholic Charites is the biggest charity in the world.

      Boom

      You, and he, are liars.

      Boom

      You're out.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Me 3

      That is because he is a blood sucker. He may have finally met his match in insulting the pope.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  8. Cindy

    Varney, your vote has EVERYTHING to do with your soul.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  9. Dr.Tesla

    El Rushbo = lives rent free in Obama and Bill Clinton's dumb heads

    December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  10. Annabelle46

    I think Rush is a decent guy. Rush is a conservative who believes in Capitalism. Nothing wrong with that, in fact that is what made this country great and why other countries are following this example. Sad our government under both Bush and worse with Obama is changing that. Our Pope seems to be a loving person who wants to be like Jesus and give aid to the poor and live in a simple manner. I am a conservative who believes in Capitalism and Jesus. I believe in smaller government, less control over the people, but we need to help our brothers and sisters with handouts but mostly a hand up to a better, more fulfilling life where they can do things for themselves and their families. I think we rob them of success when we continue to give unending handouts for each generation. Why can't people be given opportunities to learn/train, have them work hard, then enjoy the fruits of their labor? I will never be rich and that's ok. I don't strive for material wealth. There is great satisfaction in earning your own way. (And buffet was spelled correctly with one "t".) Peace to everyone whether you are a liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican! We are Americans first and foremost, and we better work together to protect our country from its real enemies. Just saying guys...

    December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • karmadog

      You are way too reasonable and level headed....thank you for a welcome perspective on the bigger picture.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  11. Pete

    And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

    December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  12. Firsto lasto

    Marxism is where humanity is headed, thankfully.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  13. Pinecone

    There's a reason that Rush Limbaugh took the form of a man who looks an awful lot like a pig - all he needs is an apple in his mouth and the image is complete. I don't say this to put the man down but to point out the reality of what Rush stands for... and his journey is sacred and he is a part of me as I am a part of him even as I strive to leave his kind of thinking behind.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  14. J. Palmieri

    I don't think anyone would be shocked if during an autopsy they find dark empty spaces where Limbaugh's brains and heart should have been.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  15. Dr.Tesla

    Rush = Good boss and co-worker

    No former employees have complained about him as a person unlikes popular liberals like Keith Olberdork and Michael Moore

    December 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Matt

      Who wouldn't love a boss who supports war criminals?

      December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Observer

      Unlike liberal commentators, but like conservatives like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, he couldn't make it in college.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        lol well Keith Olberman and Mad Cow and Chris Hayes show how important a college degree is.

        I don't think Michael Moore has a degree though

        December 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
        • Observer

          Dr. Tesla,

          Rachel Maddow has a doctorate degree. Sorry you don't have one.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
        • Matt

          You're one to judge. "I have a degree in mechanical engineering, but can't spell simple words like monopoly." ha. sad and funny.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          only reason Maddow is on television is she's a carpet muncher. Her show is a drag and get sno ratings.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          Only network that will hire Maddow is MSNBC same one that employs Al Sharpton who could not be a bigger buffoon and unlikely he has a degree in anything other than some fake relgious degree maybe

          December 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • TigersClaw

      You liked it fine when the Pope emphasized the things with which you agree, but have a problem now that we have a Pope that also emphasizes the poor. Who is it, then, that is imposing his own biases on Christianity? Instead of spouting simplistic nonsense and arguing for "your side" why not step back and recognize that abortion is wrong and so is greed.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • middle america man

      Rush got his start on the radio around my area. He was fired from one of these local stations and stole from one of his fellow radio personalites, according to this gentleman's own words. Another person with local media connections that I know personally says they doubt he believes half the crap he says. I think he's 400 pounds of crap in a 300 pound sack.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  16. cowboystar12

    Why is that one of the 'leaders' of the GOP has a problem with the act of charity, giving, helping those in need?
    The GOP ers talk so much about Jesus but really don't understand the concept of giving. Rush makes his money
    the 'opposite way' but promoting division, hate, distrust and anything that will make him wealthier. It does not
    sound like he understands that he will one day meet his 'maker' and have to answer for his hateful life.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  17. Robert

    Coming from a bigoted moron his comments are full of integrity

    December 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  18. Dr.Tesla

    Rush = generous No liberal can deny Rush has done good works for cancer research and helping the familes of family soldiers/police

    December 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • ya right!

      And Yet Rush is a felon who tried to get 10,000 oxycontin pills through an airport. Your saint is a sinner, get over your fine idea that Rush is any kind of a saint,after all how many women has he divorced to date. Rush is no theologian or anywhere near a saint to be saying anything about a true man of God.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Pinecone

      'Generous' connotes someone holding the purse strings and handing out the money. The Pope knows that there is enough money on this planet for EVERYONE to be rich. People use labels like 'communism' or 'Marxism' to throw fear into the mix so they can KEEP their selfish mitts on what they believe to be their own! A rocket scientist is NOT more valuable, nor is his time, than a garbage collector. The system was rigged to be a meritocracy so there would be a basis for slavery, versus living, loving, and serving each other unconditionally.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  19. mary

    And Rush Limbaugh speaks garbage touted by Tea Party right wing nuts like SP and TC those people who give uso our daily laugh

    December 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  20. ybsnad

    new month, rush has to say something outlandish to get in the headlines.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:34 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.