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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. San Francisco

    As always Rush Bimbo and his non sense hateful ideas.... This is by far the best Pope ever bringing Christianity to its roots !!!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  2. Jim

    Catholics, the evangelical right ARE NOT your friends.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  3. Sue

    I am a hard core atheist and now I really love the pope!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  4. Harley Quinn

    If Limbaugh hates The Pope, then he looks even better in this atheists' eyes. Limbaugh is a fat sack of fecal matter having a laugh at how easy it is to manipulate his audiences.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • AAmir Khan

      I wish that there was was like button, cause your description of Limbaugh deserves many – "fat sack of fecal matter..." LOL. 1000 Likes.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  5. mindstorms1

    I wonder what Jesus would think of the Pope's statements?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  6. monica

    Limbaugh is sh...!!! Do you like to eat sh...?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  7. alan

    Rush is absolutely correct. Take all the money and give it to the poor. What else is that called besides Marxism?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • darth cheney

      If it's ALL the money, you are right. But typical of your ilk, you're attacking a claim that was never made nor intended. Having the wealth of society dispersed more equitably is what's being promoted here, not the Marxist "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs."

      December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  8. seriously?

    "This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets," So Limbaugh and his minions are outraged about a statement being "almost" said? Wow, he must be running out of topics and people to castigate to make himself feel better.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • darth cheney

      Well, Limbaugh is almost not an !d!0t. As are some of his smarter followers.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  9. cameron

    I agree with Rush, it's obvious that someone has gotten to this pope. and that someone is Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  10. joe

    I guess Rush hasn't read the Bible. Jesus was a "Marxist," if you want to characterize genuine concern for the poor that way. Go away, Rush. No one really cares what you think.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  11. Charlie Rocket

    Rush Limbaugh makes millions a year for spewing his tea-bagger hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  12. icu

    that guy (rush) is a idiot. and people still listen to him.. it is time to take him off air

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  13. Kris L

    Appears to me that Limbaugh and Varney really don't understand Capitalism. Considering that one of them calls it a political system, when it is an economic model, just shows why people should stop listening to them. And again, conservative media keeps trying to push this myth that government helping the poor is Communism. They really need to take another look at the failings of all economic systems. The problem with Capitalism is GREED. The problem with Socialism is GREED. The problem with Communism is GREED. Greedy people like to hide behind the curtain that their preferred economic system provides and justify themselves simply by shouting that the other guy is evil. Republicans: Trickle-down economics only works if the money ACTUALLY trickles-down. You cannot justify a CEO's pay rising by 100% and on the other hand tell the workers making the company be profitable that there is no money for pay raises.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • BRC

      Thanks for pointing that out, bugs me when people who expect to be listened to get simple definitions wrong.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • As Far As Siam

      Kris, great post,
      thank you.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  14. DW

    And Rush is preaching pure garbage. But, apparently, that's what his followers want to hear.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  15. ljjm

    Limbaugh will do anything for money. He will spout hate about anyone to get a headline and add to his coffers. I'm sure Pope Francis doesn't even know who Limbaugh is. If Pope Francis has heard of Limbaugh, he has probably been praying for Rush's conversion.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  16. Lemon Talks

    the article was like good bait for liberals.

    normally they are condemning the catholic church.

    but for this article they love the catholic church lol

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • keven

      Liberals condem the Pope? What you been smoking buddy? Your as clueless Limbag..

      December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  17. AmeriRod

    We're supposed to take seriously a guy that's been married four times, no kids, a convicted drug abuser, college drop out, etc, etc? For crying out loud the guy is deaf because he was abusing drugs to such an extent that he destroyed the nerves in his ears while at the same same time he was carrying on about how drug laws were too lenient and all illegal drug users should be thrown in prison. He's the absolute epitome of hypocrisy .

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • almac64

      Rush is now over-qualified to run as Mayor of Toronto, however.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Nothienuf

      Well stated. Rush's audience members are undereducated people that good people that have been by their noses to Rush's profit trough, where they purge themselves of any sense of rationality as they line this guys pockets as he preaches hate and intolerance againstly anyone who disagrees with him or grabs the last slice of pizza.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  18. isolate

    By Rush's definition, Jesus was a Marxist, too, given his abnormal concern for the poor, the sick, and the powerless. I think the earlier version is the role model for Pope Francis, not the later incarnation.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  19. calamity jane

    I think it's great that even the Pope has all these greaseball Republicans on the run. When you can't justify your beliefs and your greed, just call someone a Marxist. Sure, that'll work.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  20. Oregon Conservative

    Rx Limbaugh is a draft-dodging drug addict.

    This conservative agnostic has noticed that what the Pope is preaching is shockingly similar to the message of Christ himself. Limbaugh's confusion of Karl Marx with Jesus Christ doesn't really surprise me.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:46 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.