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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. winchester74

    Limbaugh is doing the job he was told to do by the corporate overlords. Pope Francis is doing the job he was told to do by the Lord.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  2. Matt

    Eventually we'll give up on capitalism. I'll probably be long dead at that point, but it will happen. My hope is ultimately Mr. Roddenberry ends up being correct about the human race.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  3. Roto

    Limpballs said that?!

    December 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  4. Patriot

    Rush gives free speech a bad name. I'll defend his right to spew hate and I hate him for spewing it.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      He shouldn't have the right to say Obama sucks at website design and Obama lied consistently about O-Care letting u keep your doctor and cutting premiums

      December 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • RestonJeff

        As a protest, you guys should shut down the government.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  5. Dr.Tesla

    Liberals are people who think Chris Hayes and Maddow and Al Sharpton put on entertaining and informed shows. lol

    December 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • RestonJeff

      Tissye? You seem to be wailing and gnashing your teeth a lot.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
      • Mrs. Travis

        It's a monkey doctor spewing its business... election year coming up, you know. Yuck!

        December 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
        • RestonJeff

          They keep throwing tantrums like this and they won't be elected coroner.

          December 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  6. cosmicsnoop

    Uh, Stuart Varney, capitalism is not a political system, it is an economic system. Would be nice if you had to pass a minimum IQ test before you get to spew your mouth in front of millions. And why would anyone find the Pope's position strange when this religion claims to descend directly from Jesus, who, sorry to say Rush and the like, would take all your cash and throw it at the very poor you so despise, if he were here.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • FLUX

      The real issue is Rush and the statement he made. Rush is a former disc jockey and a college drop out. I doubt if he has a clue what he is talking about. The only thing he is interested in is the money he can make by saying things the uneducated will not question.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  7. Matt

    Oh well. At the end of the day they're both grown men who believe in imaginary friends. To be honest neither is all that great of a person to need the promise of a reward to do good things.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  8. Joe

    Hey Jim! If you really are Christian you are not very smart or not very connected with the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. Get a clue you hypocrite.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  9. matic

    Rush looks like fat Buddha.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      I'd rather look like Rush than Obama, Chris Hayes or Maddow. lol Maddow looks like a boy

      December 2, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
      • Matt

        Well there is definitely something Maddow has on you.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          Maddown has a bigger d- than me no doubt . llol

          December 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
        • Observer

          Rachel Maddow also has a higher education and is far more successful than you are. Too bad.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          being on a little watched network with a fool like Al Sharpton is the very definition of succcess. lol

          December 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
        • Observer

          Dr.Tesla,

          lol. We KNEW you'd have NO comeback.

          December 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • middle america man

        How strange, they're all three more attractive than that ignorant fat ex hillbilly heroin addict. I hope you do look like Rush.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
      • Yukon Cornelius

        Yeah, we all know what you do watching Rachel Maddow. Wrist feeling a little sore, eh? That why you don't want to look at her?

        December 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  10. Sam Osborne

    John XXIII is first and last pope that I greatly admired and thought that if there were saints on Earth he had to be one among them. And since his being placed in the chair of Peter, the current pope has repeatedly expressed himself as another-as he did yesterday when he smilingly revealed to some people gathered to meet him that as a young man he had been a bouncer in a bar and this on top of upsetting the Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • middle america man

      I won't fault you for John XX3 but it's an unusual choice. Most go with JP2, who I thought was the bbe's knees. He's about to be canonized, you know.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  11. ellamvaram

    WHEN WILL THIS GREAT NATION STOP LISTENING TO RUSH LIMBAUGH? WHEN WILL THIS GREAT COUNTRY IGNORE THIS CRAZY MAN (whom most intelligent and civilized folksin the Country) KNOW IS CRAZY? WHEN? FOR ALL I KNOW, THE G-O-P IS A GREAT PARTY, BUT WHEN WILL THEY WAKE UP TO REALITY, AND STOP LISTENING THIS MAD MAN? PLEASE, PLEASE; FOR GOD'S SAKE, LET'S BE A NATION THAT THE WORLD CAN ADMIRES, RESPECT AND HONOR.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Bradley Hill

      Who would you have us listen to? Obama??? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Many did and look where they are now. You there,...NOW? You're a begger

      December 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • A Candid Look

      To express an often used liberal idea to all you liberals...

      If you don't like it you don't have to do it or listen to it.. no one is twisting your arm... you are not being forced...

      And naturally you will not see your own hypocrisy...

      After all only your way is the correct way.. but wait that is what you accuse conservatives of .. again Hypocrisy!

      December 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  12. Truth_is_Truth

    Many third world priests are socialists and often subscribe to Marxist ideology. Not surprising that the current Pope who comes from a poor nation has a Marxist bent.

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

      Aw. You don't know what Marxism us, either. How cute.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  13. David Hale

    Imagine what he'd say about Jesus Christ? For the first time in a long time Catholics have a Pope they can really be proud of, a true Priest and not just the CEO of one of the wealthiest corporations in the world. But this waterboy for the rich can't stomach the thought of a truly selfless man in charge of the worlds largest Christian religion. How disgusting and self serving. Don't know if there really is a hell, but Limberger is definitely headed there if there is.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Bradley Hill

      I was thinking more about "YOUR" destination after your life on earth has expired.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  14. Dr.Tesla

    Liberals havea God Complex

    Their belief is Jesus agrees with whatever they agree with. Jesus is little more than a poltiical prop.

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

      Lol. You're stupid.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
      • Matt

        Well he has to use the internet. Trying to say this crap in reality would quickly land him in a coma.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
        • middle america man

          Thank you for that and some of the other comments. This is so much more fun than watching TV...

          December 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  15. Yuphah Kingkhuntz

    You people actually listen to Limbaugh?
    Yuphah Kingkuntz

    December 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • Bradley Hill

      Yes, we do. Why, who do you listen too? Obama? That is why you are asking the question: are we still listening to Limbaugh. Truth is hard to come by when a person is listening to CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, or PBS and Huffington Post. No wonder you are so screw up in the head.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  16. Jim

    Well, as a catholic. I agree with Mr. Limbaugh.

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

      You're not a Catholic. Don't lie. God knows.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • Truth_is_Truth

        I was born and raised a catholic and I agree with Limbaugh on this (and I never listen to his radio show).

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

      Sucks to be you, then. Limbaugh isn't the voice of god on earth, the Pope is. So choke on it and believe it and practice it. You can't just agree with him when he's preaching against gays. The Pope is INFALLIBLE. Limbaugh is just a fat oxycontin addict. You can't just take some of what the pope says that you like and disregard the rest. What kind of Christian are you? You're a Catholic? You better follow your leader or you're going to hell.

      Choke on it, Catholics.

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

        And where in the Bible does it say that the Pope is infallible?

        Galatians 2:11 When Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

        Peter was a married man. Pope's never marry! See 1 Cor. 9:5; Matthew 8:14

        December 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
      • Bradley Hill

        And just who told you that? One deluded puppy you are. I listen to God the Holy Spirit. Don't you know your bible son?

        December 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Robert Constant

      You are an idiot. You are not a Catholic. You are a materialistic suck who plays at being a Catholic. May you rot in Hell.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
  17. rubytu

    If you've paid attention to what Jesus said then you probably think he's Marxist, too.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  18. OD

    People have very short memories. Rush was a drug addict – for him to criticize others and call them names, well....

    December 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  19. Mrs. Travis

    This is not about God nor the Bible; it's politics as usual while Israel's PM is meeting with the pope discussing the REAL issues of the day.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  20. David-Denver

    Rush is the personification of the "idolatry of money".

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

      sounds like your problem b/c you clearly jealous of his wealth

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

        Do you know the difference between money and the love of money? Rush doesn't.

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

          i dont think anybody hates money

          December 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
        • Matt

          Think again.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
        • RestonJeff

          So you don't know the difference. Okay.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:48 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.