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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. Jason D

    Rush cant stop insulting everyone, he should be in drag alongside hoover...this MUTT is nothing in favor of anything but his own voice....now he's insulting all those hyper right wing Catholics...let's hope they bring it on and give him what the left have wished for far too long

    December 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  2. Ken

    It's nonsense as normal from this lunatic! It's 2013 Rush! You have to take at serious look at your views when even the Pope is more progressive than you?!

    December 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  3. pwmcgill

    Yep! We need to get back to hunter-gathering. I would love to see Limbaugh survive under such a system. What a big bozo he is!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Maddy

      He could live off his antipodal tissue for years.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
  4. david

    yet more proof that Rush knows nothing about either Christianity or Marxism....

    December 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Maddy

      Which is in keeping with all of the topics he knows about: none.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  5. johnc

    Rush is using rhetoric from the 50's. Capitalism and socialism are not antagonistic to the other. China is a Communist country politically but a capitalistic one economically. Unbridled capitalism is dangerous for any society. This is what the Pope was trying to emphasis.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  6. BeBoppin

    So now after offending women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, Muslims, etc. Rush has decided to insult a billion Roman Catholics as well. From everything I have heard, Pope Francis is very popular among not just Catholics but many other people around the world. He seems to genuinely care for the poor and downtrodden. Isn’t that a basic principle of Christianity? So what would Jesus think? I bet he would consider Rush a Marxist…but more along the lines of Groucho than Karl. And Rush would no doubt consider Jesus to be a commie if they met. So who exactly ARE his supporters these days other than straight white 50 and above ultra-rightwing Protestant males?

    December 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Maddy

      Rush is an abomination. The only people he appeals to are those with an IQ of a sea cucumber.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
  7. Lionly Lamb

    Labelers labeling tactics will one day lead to all the labelers finally getting their labeling ways all tied up and knotted that no amount of finagling will be able t undo the labeler's labeling tactics...

    Legalize Hemp Farming and then tax ad regulate recreational marijuana use while finally, 'freely' give medicinal cannabis to those in dire needs of cannabis's medicinal qualities while charging the 'least' needy a fair rate...

    December 2, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Naples, Florida

      And how dies that eradicate poverty, highboy?

      December 2, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
      • Paul

        Because after the legalization of weed, everyone lives happily ever after with peace on earth.
        Blah blah blah!

        December 2, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  8. Grumpymedicmrcemtp

    And Limbaugh is teaching pure dumbism.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  9. Sajor

    lol, has this clown ever payed any attention to what Jesus preached? If he showed up today he would be called a communist hippie!

    December 2, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  10. KG

    I haven't read Evangelii Gaudium, but I suspect Pope Francis is pointing out the ever widening gulf between rich and poor in the world. Capitalism is often confused with a free economy. It is just one type of free economy and it does lend itself to the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a select few. Governments are supposed to regulate the financial markets to ensure the wealthy can't rig the game against everyone else. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen. Quite the opposite. What Francis is pointing out is that Capitalism must also take care of those most in need. Not a hand out, but a hand up. Christ preached against the hoarding of material wealth. I believe Francis is absolutely correct, as Christ's Vicar on Earth, to continue to promote this message. Rush Limbaugh? He's nothing but a wind bag.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  11. Seann

    It's well known that the Klan doesn't like the Catholics.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  12. Scott

    I think it's noble that that Pope wants to renounce the financial gluttony of the Vatican and society. He does not take advantage of the perks of his office and still opts to connect with the common people as much as possible. Bless him for doing something to get us back to the compassionate principles of Christ, who lived a life of poverty to serve others.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Real America

      There's no evidence that Jesus ever earned a dime.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • JP

        there's no evidence Jesus ever existed.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
        • JDL

          Another ignorant statement, added to the mix

          December 2, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  13. funkmeister

    Limbaugh preaches hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  14. Luis Andujar

    the rush Limbaugh Train has derailed into the curve of pure stupidity , he seriously needs to apologize for that retarded comment

    December 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  15. East Milwaukean

    Pope Francis: He Rush. I may preach to Marxists but you preach to dumb-az zes

    December 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  16. Linda

    What the Pope is preaching used to be called Christianity.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • ToriJo

      In response to the post by Linda -

      A-Men!, ad infinitum... en perpetuum....

      December 2, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  17. mike

    Classic hypocracy though in this case, rush calls himself black...... as a matter of speaking

    December 2, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  18. An immigrant

    Capitalism is not perfect. But it is by far the best social-economic system the mankind has developed. Proven over and over and keeps proving. Take a live examples now, Venezuela, Cuba, N. Korea, etc.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Real America

      We fucked them over good, eh?

      December 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Naples, Florida

      Screw the starving! Team Rush!

      December 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • East Milwaukean

      Capitalism really proved itself under American Slavery

      December 2, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • alex

      Right wing war on religion ?

      December 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
    • jerd

      your comparison would be good, but you're forgetting most leftist countries are blocked from open trade with the rest of the world. north korea starves because nobody does business with them.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • East Milwaukean

        Plus he picks the worse examples of Marxism & ignores the worst examples of capitalist countries like Mexico, the Philippines or India

        December 2, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • BeBoppin

      Not perfect but it still must be regulated by government in some way.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • pdxdave

      Great post, Immigrant.

      The "give me everything free so I can sit on my lazy butt" generation needs to learn a few things from immigrants who suffered under Marxist dictatorships.

      Thank you.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  19. contessa

    Yikes! Rush won't ever get to heaven now! BooHoo!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  20. Danko Ramone

    Find me a preacher in an American church who isn't preaching politics, and then Limbaugh can lament than one actually says stuff Jesus might.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:46 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.