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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. Rajun Cajun

    I would imagine Rush would find Jesus a far left extreme communist revolutionary IF he ever took the time to actually read the gospels. Francis has stated NOTHING new but rather reiterated the teachings of Jesus and his namesake Francis of Assissi. But then I think Rush understands this and lacking the same assets as Miley Cyrus has decided to do a mental "twerk" for the sake of attention.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  2. Andrew

    I love it.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  3. Robert Constant

    Rush Limbaugh is an abomination. He preaches hatred and intolerance to the emotionally challenged, unhappy people who hate their lives and seek emotional release. The racists, the bigots, the misogynists, those who hate anybody of a different race or religion, and those who feel cheated by life all identify with Limbaugh's angry rants. He has no regard for truth, and when challenged on a particular point says that he is an "entertainer" and is not bound by having to be accurate.
    His programs originate on Clear Channel Radio which is owned by Mitt Romney. He has become the voice of the Republican Party to millions of rural Americans who have little access to other media and believe his lies. He is hailed as a Republican hero by Tea Party hard liners.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      Amen to that!

      December 2, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  4. Ssteven Reiley

    The Pope is talking about Christian charity. It is Limbaugh and the religious right that are off track. Every thing Jesus taught was about saving your sole. It was never about money or wealth. I admire Pope Francis for speaking out. I believe he wants to change the church. Limbaugh is a voice I do not care about. It is his right to state his opinion and I respect that. I simply disagree with him and agree with Pople Francis on this issue. There is a lot more we could do for the poor and everything I have ever been taught about Christianity leads me to believe that is true.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • TermLimitsNVoterID

      Religious right? Vs Athiest Communist Leftist Socialist thievery left? Please............most of the money the catholic church receives as the largest Christian faith is from good ole American Capitolists. vs Obama relection campaign funds of over a billion largely illegal from Chinese five dollar donations never tracked because foreign money is illegal and a felony. But that being said the catholic church has like most Christian churches been about sharing the wealth although I think in this country we do a good job of sharing the wealth already and the latest ACA will most likely bankrupt the nation.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  5. Rick

    A doctor-shopping junkie hate-monger criticizes the Pope – how American!

    December 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  6. Sherri

    I wish the media would stop asking what Rush things, stop reporting what Rush thinks. Rush doesn't THINK. He's a mouth.Nothing more. And a big mouth at that. He's an idiot and far too many people listen to him, believe him.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  7. Wolf Blitzer

    Republicans are finally starting to figure out that Jesus was a liberal. I guess it's a step in the right direction. Only when they figure out that he didn't exist though will we truly have made some progress.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Matt

      Well I'd argue Jesus did exist. God however is a different story.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  8. timelord7202

    Good for the Pope!

    Jesus could save Limbaugh firsthand and all Limbaugh would do is call Him a kommmie too.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  9. Jan V.

    Can't we put Rush Limbaugh in a box and put him on a shelf somewhere and call him history. I think the new pope is long past what is necessary for the Catholic church to turn around..
    Rush Limbaugh is qualified for absolutely nothing other than ratings. He's nuts

    December 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Sherri

      I agree 100 percent. He's a blowhard. Why DOES anyone listen to him anyway? I sure don't. I should have saved myself some time and not read the article about hm. Now there's 3 minutes I can never get back.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  10. mike

    ...was a drug addict and it has rotted his brain. He's an idiot

    December 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  11. Joe

    Rush Limbaugh can shut up, he's a fat headed drug addict fascist telling a principled Christian man how to be a principled Christian man.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  12. middle america man

    Rush obviously cares what the Pope thinks or we wouldn't be having this conversation. Have you had your IQ tested lately, Sparky? Meanwhile the Pope commands, so to speak, more than a billion followers, many of whom would be happy to take care of Rush for him, in a heartbeat, without question. Except I doubt the Pope is even aware of this developmentally impaired radio personality. Rush needs to score some more pills and shut up now.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  13. RAR

    “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.”

    Oh really? The religious right has not been trying to influence your politics? Sheesh.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  14. For St. Pete's sake

    Limbaugh is a baffoon. Simple thoughts for simple minded people – and I guess there are enough simple minded people who can't think themselves out of their redneck chair to turn the dial and get an education. Sad.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  15. JoeCool

    Good job CNN. Obama's rating is still in the toilet so it's time to talk about something Limbaugh said 5 days ago. But this story is good enough for the low-information crowd.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      I'm not sure what the problem is with Obamacare, the CoveredCA.Gov site worked very well for me and my family. It took all of 15 minutes and I will be getting a better plan with better coverage for the same premium as I was paying before and I'm staying with the same insurer I was with. I was a bit worried at first when I was told by Anthem that they would not be offering my old plan and I had to switch, but at the end of the day I am very happy with how things have worked out. If more States had adopted the ACA and set up their own sites the Federal site would not have been overloaded which is what Fox and the conservatives are all upset about now since their ideology argument failed so badly, now all they have is "The Websites Broken! Arghhh!!" It's kind of sad anyone listens to these silly losers at Fox anymore.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • mikeemcg

      speaking of the low information, hyperpartisan crowd...look in the mirror

      December 2, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • middle america man

      Yeah, Joe, because the entire world revolves around your hatred of the President. Get a life.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  16. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    Does anyone even pretend that Rush Limbaugh doesn't preach anything but pure hate? He hates to eat right, he hates to work out, he hates to pay a dime for anyone other than himself, he hates to pay for the highways his chauffeur has to navigate to get his large backside to work every day, he hates Obama, he hates democrats and anyone who might ask him to pitch in for the collective good of humanity. He has a bootstrap mentality not because he believes in the ideology of "God helps those who help themselves" but is just too selfish to think about spending any of his ill-gotten gain on anyone but himself, he just uses the ideology mantra as an excuse to hide his greed, selfishness and racism as many conservatives do. It's more PC to say you don't want to donate to a young black mans education because you read some Ayn Rand than it is to admit you don't want to support scholarships because you don't want anymore "uppity blacks" running around thinking they can be President.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      Well said!

      December 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • ana

      I'm not sure when this became about race...Rush just needs to retire...

      December 2, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        Just because the modern day racists are practiced at hiding their racism doesn't mean the rest of us can't read between the lines. The voter ID laws to battle "voting fraud" when a total of .02% of fraud was found nationwide IS between the lines racism. The anti-wellfare and food stamp rhetoric coming from Rush and other conservative pundits is between the lines racism, back in the '80s it was the "Cadillac driving wellfare queen" that was the racism between the lines, though not quite so hidden back then. The white, mostly southern, conservative establishment has a polished surface but underneath they are seething with racism and hate the fact that a black man is in their white house and come up with just about any stupid excuse to try to claim he is an illegitimate President. The birthers, the anti-commie rhetoric, the muslim President rhetoric, all of it are examples of racism between the lines.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
        • middle america man

          While it's entirely possible for people to oppose the President on entirely objective policy disagreements, I'm willing to bet that many who claim to feel that way would admit what you say, at least under hypnosis. Same deal with immigration these days. I, however, have a couple of dear friends from Mexico, here legally, and there are entire states I'd be willing to trade for them.

          December 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  17. Kevin

    If you read Jesus words he is a super Marxist. Sell what you have and give it to the poor. Take the coat off your back and give it to someone who needs it. Massive wealth transfer. Rush, Palin, and so many others who scream loudly what a Christian Nation we are.....they don't have a clue what that really means, not a clue.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "It would be easier to get a Rush Limbaugh through the eye of a needle than for a fat rich pill popper to enter the Kingdom of God..."

      December 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
      • middle america man

        The big man upstairs already took Rush's hearing once, hillbilly heroin abuse does that apparently. Rush should retire before he finds out what's next.

        December 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  18. jb1963

    Rush preaches racism and hatred

    December 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  19. springthecat

    Looks like Rush is back on drugs

    December 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  20. Age of Reason

    ...."What riches hath this fable of the Christ not brought us?!" Pope Leo X

    If the Pope doesn't believe in Jesus Christ, then why should you?

    December 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • Matt

      You shouldn't. But some people are deathly afraid of thinking for themselves.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Gregor

      Your quote actually comes from a work of fiction satirizing the Catholic Church. The author was a former priest who was disillusioned by the Church. That the Church (and quite a few popes) have made plenty of mistakes is something even a devout Catholic (which I consider myself to be) would not argue. But before you go putting words in dead people's mouths, maybe you should make sure you're correct. Otherwise you're just a gossip (whom Jesus had a particular dislike of).

      December 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
      • Age of Reason

        ..I was Roman Catholic also (Slovak ancestry), but in name only!

        Some more quotes........."I don't believe that Jesus Christ was a historical person,nor do I believe that he existed!"
        Napoleon Bonaparte upon the retrieval of the Rosetta stone in Eqypt (as quoted by General Charles Dupuis)
        ......"Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles are just a parody of the Sun God and the twelve signs of the Zodiac!"
        The Religious Compilations of Thomas Paine

        "I don't believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, nor do I subscribe to others who do!" William Taft
        "No one knows if this Jesus Christ existed,and if he did, NOTHING is known about him!" Bertrand Russell 1928

        December 2, 2013 at 7:30 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.