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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. Chris M

    It seems we have a situation where a religious authority is speaking about economics, so Limbaugh is picking on someone who is clearly out of his expertise. In fact, someone who has a much more valuable agenda. And, like other issues which effect the moral progress of the earth, more important than looking at his comments from an political or economic angle, is looking at the amount of good that can be done to this earth if people shared their resources with the poor. Limbaugh, of course, has his own agenda, part of which is finding issues which can be addressed promoting his own political agenda, and benefitting him by generating viewers. With Limbaugh’s narrow point of view, the good of general population can be dismissed. I think the key things the pope said which are true:
    “the idolatry of money”
    “expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

    December 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • Emma Morrow

      You admit Rush is right and essentially say you are a Marxist.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • dhherold

      So I guess when jesus threw the vendors out of the church he was "speaking out of his expertise." Guess what? Every time rush opens his mouth he is "speaking out of his expertise."

      December 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  2. Tom

    I love this Pope and I am not even a Catholic

    December 2, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • 111Dave111

      I love this Pope and I am not even a Christian.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  3. CTexas

    Liar Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  4. Frankly

    Reading your scathing posts, you progressive liberals are vicious whack jobs. This is the present day America under Obama, on the way to hell regardless. No Utopia waiting for you left wing extremists.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • Casey

      You're going to hell.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • Syd

      Frankly, you are FOS. Thanks for dropping by.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • Linda

      I'm a progressive liberal. Does it make me a 'whack job" to note that "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is exactly how the disciples lived?

      December 2, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  5. dj

    Rush like others are greatly misunderstanding and grossly misquoting the Pope's message. Pope Francis is speaking of the idoltry and worship of money and possessions over the worship of God while ignoring the pain and suffering of the poor. The Church does not condemn the wealthy but, reminds us that following the teachings of Jesus Christ, leading others to Christ, and the responsiblity of helping the poor should be our primary concern, rather than acquiring great wealth for ourselves.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  6. coreyfaure

    Rush Limbaugh: The same guy who brought you the word "feminazi", who said Michael J. Fox was faking parkinson's, who fear-mongered about the flu vaccine, etc.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  7. Will s

    Rush isn't smart enough to be a Catholic. If he bothered finishing college he might be qualified to speak on economics.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  8. Blue Dog

    Obama iis marxist, One of the most popular Pope is marxist. Who else is on your list Mr. Limbaugh? Reagan, who gave amnesty to millions of illegals? Seems like nice company though.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  9. monty

    another , lyndon la rouche nutjob getting info from the same loop of non proof trash

    December 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  10. Name*Bigburnzie2000

    Rush I always knew you were Satin.Do yourself a favor and stay away from knocking the Pope or the church.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Blue Dog

      U mean Satan...

      December 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
      • Sara(swati)

        Seitan.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  11. davidlarkin

    This is nothing new. This is Scripturally sound. Pope Leo XIII wrote in his 1891 encyclical on capital and labor:
    "Still, when there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government."
    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13rerum.htm
    So, are Catholics going to follow their pontiff, or Rush Limbaugh?

    December 2, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
  12. Joe

    Why am I even commenting on this? I mean Rush is a buffoon. I firmly believe that god/Jesus looks down at greed if I am to believe anything I read in the bible. I firmly feel that Jesus according to the New Testament lived a communist / minimalist lifestyle and cared nothing for money. Look we live in a modern world and money and material things are valued beyond human life – People spend their lives toiling to produce the junk we treasure for no reward beyond sustenance – I'm not a theologian and I couldn't venture to guess what a real god would think about it but if I were a god I'd throw up on this planet.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  13. monty

    must be a crazy lyndon la rouche idea, plus going to somehow mix the president into a maze of logic and loops

    December 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  14. Blue Dog

    This the true face of conservative politics. They have totally forgotten the principals that jesus preached all his life.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  15. Sara(swati)

    It's kind of nice when there's something we all agree on, even if it's just Rush Limbaugh's idiocy.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  16. Real America

    I know that Mr. Limbaugh is a bloated tick fastened on the penis of conservative American values, but he is not entirely wrong. The pope and the religion he represents and all of Christianity and all tools of compassion everywhere are the enemies of free markets and natural laws. They make us weak and make us pay for the privilege of having them make us weak. If Mr. Limbaugh ever has the courage to say just that I'll run him up on a flagpole and salute him.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Sara(swati)

      Enemies of natural laws?!?! What, like those nasty folks who are trying to f#€¥ up gravity for the rest of us and send us off into space?

      December 2, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Joe

      I thought I wanted to reply to you but realized how stupid it is to try and ration with anyone on this site.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  17. erin111

    Wow, I didn't know that St. Francis (12/13 century) was a Marxist!!! This is his name and his philosophy that a new pope adopted, ....you Limbaugh you are an ..........

    December 2, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  18. Bill

    If Stuart Varney knew anything, he would know that capitalism is an economic system, not a political system, despite the fact that the Republicans tend to think they are the same thing.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  19. rxlawdude

    To paraphrase Bill Maher, if Rush thinks the pope is a liberal Marxist, wait till he reads what Jesus said.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • 111Dave111

      Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is "pure Fascism."

      December 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  20. Brandon

    "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of needle than for a rich man to enter heaven" It's amazing how man christians forget that.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • truth

      vatican has the wealth and uses our tax dollar to pretend they are using their own money. What else would you expect from a group that money launders and covered up the r+a+p+e+s of small ckildren

      December 2, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
      • Syd

        You rape the truth, so I guess you're right up there with Rush.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
      • Suzy Mack

        ouch.
        I wouldn't trust anyone of them. They knew.
        Never said a thing.....

        December 2, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
      • JJ

        You speak the truth.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • lord toronaga

      "I already have the guilty conscience... so I might as well keep the money" -Wyatt Earp

      December 2, 2013 at 9:38 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.