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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. scootfl78

    Limbaugh believes in Republican Jesus. His views on morality are in question every time he speaks or writes something.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
  2. Blame Bush

    Limbaugh is preaching pure garbage.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Thomas

      You don't have much authority on Nything with a name like that.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  3. Mark Postlethwaite

    "Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system."

    Wrong. He has offered direct criticism of GREED. I, for one, completely agree.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  4. Robert from New Braunfels

    Rush must not read the Bible. Jesus was not a fan of the money changers. St. John lived off nothing. The disciples gave up everything.

    I don't like the Church any more than I like AIG. However, I do like what the Pope has been saying. Despite what Rush says, the Pope is not living the High Life. Makes me think Rush is popping those pills again.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
  5. lancane

    As an atheist I find it offensive that other likeminded people are attacking the faith of their fellow citizens when it's their God given and Governmental affirmed rights to do so. You can not blast a fellow citizen about the rights of men and women in this country and then simply force your own ideological beliefs on them in the same breath – it's beyond hypocritical. We may not believe in God, but we do believe in mankind and the rights of our fellow man in accordance to social order.

    Religion is both good and bad, but so is Atheism. Religion was founded on the premise of making mankind better themselves through commandments or rules set down by a deific being who many believe in, in some form or another and the breaking of such will lead to dire consequences, a divine judicial branch. However, for Limbaugh to blast the Pope on making a political statement using religion and the wrongness of that act, then how come it plays such a large part in US Politics? Political Parties in the United States are divided by ideological beliefs and ideal social views derived from those ideologies. Claiming an unjust attack on Capitalism where the Church should hold no hold is sort of ironic, after all, US Currency is marked by the term "In God We Trust", isn't it also the standardized currency of the world today? So I would say that is by and far more hypocritical then a Pope stating that Capitalism will lead to tyranny, after all the crash of American Markets nearly destroyed the world's various economical infrastructures?

    December 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
  6. shan

    any time I listen or read what Limabugh says , I had to go to church for peace
    This guy Limbaugh is a monster

    December 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
  7. Pepper23

    Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin just need to fade away

    December 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  8. Elbe

    Are some Capitalists morphing into Cain?

    "And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brothers keeper?"
    Genesis 4:9

    December 2, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
  9. DC

    this is hilarious....a Marxist Pope? He'll do to Catholicism what decades of communism couldn't – snuff it

    December 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  10. Pepper23

    Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin just need to go away

    December 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  11. Thom

    When you die, your life flashes before you...... that is because your memory cells are emptying.....you won't need any of that any more in your eternal sleep......called death.....there is no here after.....or after here........just death. The sooner people realize this, the sooner we can stop all these wars and hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Julian Hoogstra

      That's rubbish.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
  12. Robert Constant

    If the leadership of the Tea Party/Republican Party think that they are going to score points by having their drug addict, hate mongering goon score points by attacking the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, they have seriously miscalculated.
    Pope Francis is a man of God with no personal agenda other than doing God's work. Rush Limbaugh is a dishonest slime ball working for the Republican party to convince working class people of limited intelligence to vote against their own economic interest. He does this by appealing to the hatred and racism seething in these unhappy people.
    It is time for Catholics and all people of good will to boycott any product advertised by stations carrying Limbaugh's sick messages of hatred. It is time for Catholics to walk out of any business where this slug's voice is coming over a radio.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  13. SAM STONE !

    BYE DODO!

    U CANNOT BE SAVED

    BYE BYE!!

    GOOD LUCK!!

    C YA!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  14. Chloe

    Many of Jesus teachings were left of center.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Observer

      CITE EACH ONE U LYING SNAKE

      December 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  15. JerseyJeff78

    So myopic.

    The Pope stands for only through the eyes of morality. He does not see things through how we see conservative or liberal and there are Catholic beliefs that one would consider both "liberal" and "conservative."

    December 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  16. Isabella
    December 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  17. Journey

    Religion hurts everything. Just look at what they did to the Boy Scouts. They turned it into a religious paramilitary organization like Hezbollah.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • HZD

      Clearly you've never belonged to the Boy Scouts! Religious paramilitary group? Hardly. Try a bunch of awkward boys sitting around in a circle taking turns spraying bug repellent on the fire and watching it flame up. I never saw anything creepy or cultish during my time there. The closest thing to creepy were the families who didn't seem to know that there were other worthwhile pursuits besides the BSA. But those people weren't creepy, just a little sad. And they were also the least religious.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  18. Jib76

    Is Mr. Limbaugh a false prophet? A false messiah? Sarah Palin? Matthew 24:24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Who should we listen to? John 6:67-69
    New International Version (NIV) 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” What does Jesus say? John 21:14-17 New International Version (NIV) 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep!"

    December 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  19. Bardamu

    It's doubtful that Mr. Limbaugh believes even a small percentage of the drivel that falls from his mouth. Essentially he is paid to prattle on for hours a day so the drones who listen to him can repeat his inane ideas as though they were their own. That is the raison d'etre of the celebrity political pundit, right or left. Eventually something he says makes a headline with enough frequency for him to maintain his near non-existent cultural relevancy and collect a pay stub.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  20. underwater ops

    So.... Rush feels Christ was a Marxist!? The Pope is only returning the church to those teachings.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:57 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.