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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. juice

    I guess you can't say the right thing when you're always Rush, Rush Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
  2. dswynne

    The pope is making a statement on the virtues of "Liberation Theology", which, in essence, has roots in Marxism. In fact, historically, Latin American clergy men have always been "Left-leaning", in terms of their opinion of economics. The problem is that the pope is seeing economics as a "zero-sum gain", meaning that there will always be a dichotomy between rich and poor, rather than a belief that having wealth is a state of transition.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Zero-sum game

      December 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Sara(swati)

      1. You don't have to believe in a zero sum game to believe that some people are losing out in the system. There aren't one two choices, zero sum or everyone wins. There are many, many other possibilities.

      2. Even if, theoretically, everyone does gain economically that is not the end all be all of human welfare. Human happiness and self-worth are relative. That's just how we as a species work. It is only the wealthy who say inequality doesn't matter.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  3. TA

    Rush needs attention. Again.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  4. Jim Bender

    Once again Rush proves his cranium is planted firmly up his..... well, you can guess where.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  5. marypaladin

    I am now convinced...Rush Limbaugh (and his whacky conservatives) are truly insane.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Maddy

      Oh, I wouldn't say ALL conservatives. Just the 15 million who listen to him and believe his every utterance.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  6. Colin

    I didn't know how weird Catholics were until I went to one of their masses. They honestly believe they consume the actual flesh and blood of Jesus because a priest performs some hocus-pocus over grocery store bread and wine at one point during the service.

    I am not making this up. I swear, they believe this garbage in the 21st century!! AND, it's the grown adults who believe this. It's not just a story they tell their little ones.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Positron Philip Douglas

      About as tasty as swallowing Rush's nonsense.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Joe The Plumber

      That is why they call it "faith." Or don't you get that?

      December 2, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Kronzypantz

      Its not as crazy as it sounds when you look into the reasoning behind it. Its a neo-platonic idea, they don't necessarily believe the atomic structure of the bread and wine is actually changed, they believe its essence has changed in a spiritual sense. The physical is just a shadow of what is real in this occasion.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
      • Colin

        In other words, it's all made up.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
        • magnus50

          I always read about the "goodness and kindness" of the very small percentage of the atheists that make up the populous. However, it's nothing more than ridicule and verbal vomit.

          Colin, if you're so intellectually superior, why such juvenile behavior? Are you the type of man brave enough to ridicule a man and say such things to his face? I'd wager to say you are not, because only a coward can muster up the courage to type behind the cloak of a screen name. Pathetic. Oh, and Merry Christmas. May the Good Lord show you Grace.

          December 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Badger00

      Don't act so shocked, Colin. We Catholics haven't been hiding this belief under a bushel. It's pretty much been front and center for the past...oh, say, two thousand years? Happy to hear you finally got the memo :-).

      Personally, I don't find it more preposterous than creatio ex nihilo

      December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
      • Colin

        BAdger00, you said, "Personally, I don't find it more preposterous than creatio ex nihilo." I find creatio ex nihilio difficult too, which is one reason I do not belive in God. I think it is preposterous that he would be created ex nihilio.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • David

          Colin, if you don't believe in God, then you must answer this question: how it is possible for you to be born of a human being with legs, arms, brain, your penis, etc. that orginally came from a fertilized egg inside your mother? What made the egg to turn into you, a human being?

          December 4, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  7. Orb4

    Why does CNN insist on promoting this monument to walking manure? Rush Limbaugh is nothing more than a loud noise at both ends, a foul smell at both ends, and no sense of responsibility at either end.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  8. Will

    Is it too much to hope that this is a "McCarthy takes on the Army" moment?

    "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

    December 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  9. 111Dave111

    Wow 136 pages and counting
    Rush vs Pope Francis.
    Emma vs Sanity.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Positron Philip Douglas

      Gotta wonder about Emma's sanity all right. She seems to like swallowing Rush.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  10. middle path

    Limbaugh has his Sarah Palin moment..

    While belief in the resurrection of Jesus is the most basic tenet of Christianity, poverty and charity are also part of Christianity.

    Marx was an atheist.

    I guess he can see a Catholic church from his front door, so he must be an expert.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  11. Emma Morrow

    RUSH: Now, by the way, in fairness to the pope and in fairness to the Catholic Church, I will admit that communism years ago was much easier to see and identify than it is today. And the obvious evil that was communism was easy to see. Soviet-sponsored communism, the gulags, the First World military with the Third World economy, the blustery behavior of Soviet Communist Party bosses, the constant Soviet expansionism into Cuba and Sandinista land and Nicaragua and everywhere.

    Communism today is much more disguised.

    Communism today, in large part, is the Democrat Party. Communism today is in large part the feminist movement. Communism today is found in most of the AFL-CIO-type unions. As such, it seems just a political point of view. It's just an alternative political point of view. It's just the Democrats, and it's a much tougher thing to identify and target, because it can be your neighbor. It's not some foreign country easily identified as "the Evil Empire." Communism has a much different face today.

    Identifying it is, I think, much more difficult today and takes much more guts to identify it today than in the past.

    – Rush Limbaugh

    December 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      He is a sick little man. He'll go the way of McCarthy if he doesn't seek help.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  12. C'mon now

    Wow! All I can say is that the American right wing has their heads up their a$$e$.

    CARING ABOUT THE POOR IS A LIBERAL CONSPIRACY!!

    DON'T TAKE MONEY FROM THE RICH!! THEY NEED MORE MONEY!!

    THE POOR DESERVE THEIR MISERY!!

    Can we just please bury the right wing already. They are sub-human.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
  13. Numb Charles

    Rush would be preaching Marxism if it paid.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
  14. Emma Morrow

    RUSH: Just a couple more things here on the latest anti-capitalist proclamation from the pope. I would be remiss if I did not point out Pope John Paul II, who had as his primary enemy, communism. Pope John Paul II largely credited Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher for the defeat of Soviet sponsored communism in Europe. The liberation of Poland. And juxtaposed against the actions of Pope John Paul II this pope and the things that he released yesterday or recently are really striking.

    There has been a long-standing tension between the Catholic Church and communism. It's been around for quite a while. That's what makes this, to me, really remarkable.

    You talk about unfettered, this is an unfettered anti-capitalist dictate from Pope Francis. And listen to this. This is an actual quote from what he wrote. "The culture of prosperity deadens us. We are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle. They fail to move us." I mean, that's pretty profound. That's going way beyond matters that are ethical. This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets. He says that the global economy needs government control.

    I'm telling, 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. But this passage, "The culture of prosperity deadens us. We are thrilled if the market offers us something new to buy. In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle." I have to tell you, folks, I am totally bewildered by this.

    The Catholic Church, the American Catholic Church has an annual budget of $170 billion. I think that's more than General Electric earns every year. And the Catholic Church of America is the largest landholder in Manhattan. I mean, they have a lot of money. They raise a lot of money. They wouldn't be able to reach out the way they do without a lot of money. Anyway, that's it. I've gone as far as my instincts tell me to go.

    Made the point.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Positron Philip Douglas

      He has just as much a point as you. None.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • C'mon now

      Why are we even listening to this fool? What is he? An entertainer? A hysteric. A profiteer making money off peoples anxiety and anger. I suppose he's he's the shaper of the GOP philosophy.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  15. Anna

    .
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeedE8vH1FQ&w=640&h=360]
    `

    December 2, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  16. Emma Morrow

    RUSH: I watch a television show from the BBC called Ripper Street. It's a crime drama set way back in the Jack the Ripper days of London, and in the most recent episode, the evil banker character... He's not in every episode. In this episode, an evil banker sold phony investments in tin and copper in the Argentine, and a lot of people lost everything, and this particular guy also had a bias against gays and was dispatching one of his minions out to kill them. So it's a a dual-edged, anti-conservative theme.

    Big bankers equal cheating everybody, and plus they attack gays. So the sheriff, or the chief constable finally corners the bad guy, the banker, and he's preaching his morality to him, telling the banker how he's screwed up and how he's ruined lives. The banker says to the chief constable, "You and your laws. You think that there is right and wrong. There is no right and wrong. There is only profit and loss. Gold is what runs the world, sir. Not your laws and not right and wrong. Profit and loss. You concern yourself with your laws when there are only ledgers."

    I mean, you just couldn't have a more textbook attack on capital, and that's how the left sees all of this.

    – Rush Limbaugh

    December 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Positron Philip Douglas

      Do you swallow everything Rush provides, "Emma"?

      December 2, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
      • Emma Morrow

        have you ever actually read Rush once?

        December 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  17. Jeff M

    Yeah I agree with Rush and its not only the Pope its the whole New Testament.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  18. Richard Mitchell

    Look who's talking. A Drug Addict who when not full of illegal drugs is full of hot air.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  19. Kris

    "No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” – Mathew 6:24 & Luke 16:13

    Apparently, St. Mathew, St. Luke & the man they are quoting, Jesus Christ, were all Marxists too.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  20. Regina Gomez

    Minor typo – correction needed in the last sentence of the article. "He's started ending a Vatican contingent...." Need to add the letter "s" i.e. should be "sending" not "ending". Thanks.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:56 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.