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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
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(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. Reality # 2

    The radio markets/# of listeners/audiences are a form of capitalism and Rush remains on the air because of said capitalism.

    And Francis' church has a built in audience/capitalistic system via the guilt trip of going to church on Sunday and paying your "ti-thes" sending you to hell if you don't. We should do away with churches and support the poor by direct contributions. Francis won't admit to it but a lot of the Catholics' Sunday contributions are going to pay for all the pedophilia settlements another good reason to abandon the RCC.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    December 2, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • newyorkjsw

      RUSH is for M O R O N S who need therapy but rather just turn him on and believe his words. he uses a certain effective method of speaking with TONE, empty space and moments of confidence. He basically is a professional snake oil salesman.
      Except he does not sell a product.. he sells ANGER-lies that make certain people feel good about their life!!!
      LOSERS– each and every FU ECK EN dic who listens to this drugster joke!

      December 3, 2013 at 12:03 am |
      • pal

        Amen!

        December 3, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  2. BADGUY

    America and American Capitalism are in BIG TROUBLE.American Capitalism has moved our means of production off shore to enable Capitalist owners to make more money. The consequence: MASSIVE unemployment. Loss of tax Revenue. America is in a financial "funk" because of American Capitalism. It's time we go to a "hybrid" system. Capitalism (private enterprise) can continue, as long as these private companies pay a living wage. But, the federal government should launch into private industry. Such things as manufacturing, infrastructure repair and utilities.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      If you have not done so, I recommend buying stock in those American capitalistic companies as they know how to make money for you onshore and/or offshore.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • dogmadekate

      Actually, if your worried about moving production off shore you need to look at unions and excessive government regulation. The problem seems to be that so many liberals don't understand the finer points of economic cause and effect. They don't see how certain actions create reactions and how those reactions can be devastating to American production. All they see are jobs going overseas and they have no real concept as to why so they simply blame the companies or capitalism in general and largely out of ignorance. You're right about one thing, American capitalism is in trouble but it's in trouble because people in America don't grasp the importance of free markets, are largely ignorant on the subject of macro economics and blindly follow the media to form their opinions on major national issues. They care more about Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians than government over reaching. They sell their freedom and economic security for temporary promises of money and cell phones.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:19 am |
  3. hm

    Limbaugh should shut up & retire, he's nothing but a big bag of hot air. Leave Pope Francis alone, he is like a breath of fresh air in our corrupt society. People like Limbaugh are just negative forces that just don't seem to go away.
    I bet I know where your going when your number is called!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Mark

      HM,

      LOL I love what you just said. Rush is just as Faulkner
      said, a "sound and fury signifying nothing", but bombast
      and HIGH ratings.
      I am not even sure he believes everything he says, but like
      old Joe McCarthy questioning the generals loyalty, this time
      he may have gone too far.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  4. Journey

    The real story here is who created all these desperate people and communities like the Pope and the Church that have to reach out to socialism for meaning. Answer: he currently sits at 1600 Penn. Ave. We can no longer hide it.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
  5. BADGUY

    Capitalism is the product of the 17th century. It began at just about the same time as the use of African Slaves in the South (1609) At present, the top 1% has 42% of the nation's financial wealth. The bottom 80% has only 7%. That means the top 1% has a "leg up" on the bottom 80%....in being Capitalists! (i.e. you gotta have Capital....to be a Capitalist!). Therefore... Capitalism is an economic system that HEAVILY favors the super Rich. It's time Capitalism begins sharing our economic system with government run industrial and service businesses. Such a "hybrid" system will allow "private enterprise" and will also provide wealth opportunities to EVERYONE...not just the top 1%.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • whocares

      You are so wrong about this, that it is impossible to even grasp how wrong you are about this. Capitalism has been around much longer than the 17th century.

      December 3, 2013 at 6:46 am |
  6. Mike

    "He's started (s)ending a Vatican contingent, including the Papal Swiss Guards, into Rome to deliver food and charity."

    Yeah. Totally Marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  7. harlock

    Rush, mind your own Friggin' business! You don't speak for catholics or for that matter any American. So do yourself a favor and SHUT UP!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • God is right wing

      ur not a christian!
      he is!

      even if u do call yourself a christian.. i bet ur a cherry picking one too.. who are u to ignore violent commands given by our lord??

      December 2, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
  8. God is right wing

    Rush is absolutely right!
    It sickens me when people call our Jesus a "pacifist" a "socialist"
    our lord fought for his rights.. thats right FOUGHT!

    "[Jesus] made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. " John 2:15
    "Do not think that I have come to send peace on Earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword. I am sent to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" Matthew 10:34-35

    [Jesus] said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one..." Luke 22:36,38

    "I say to you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. As for my enemies who do not want me to reign over them, bring them here and kill them in my presence" Luke 19:26-27

    this pope is fraud!

    i bet liberal atheists sure love him!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • dnick47

      Where did you get your Bible from? Mine doesn't support your argument in the least and the passages within it contradict you. You are probably one of the Republicans who supported Romney who is an anti-Christ because the cult he belongs to denies the divinity of Christ so its in keeping with the Darkness of the GOP.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
      • God is right wing

        liar,, post the name of the version of your bible.. i bet you have the one they hand out outside schools(cherry picked version)

        KJV is the most reliable.

        go to biblegateway and cross reference my verses.. it seems like its u who belong to heretical sect of Christianity since ur not following the true bible.

        December 3, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • Carl

      A religion preaching violence? Sounds like terrorism to me.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
      • God is right wing

        its not my word! ITS GODS!!
        who are you God to judge what he is preaching?? whatever god commands is morally just and the right thing to do.

        ur prob some atheist like the guy below... u people are like ants all over the internet.

        December 3, 2013 at 12:19 am |
    • pal

      Wow, just wow! You and Rush Limbaugh are creating atheists every time you speak.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:03 am |
  9. Steve Storch

    This new Pope seems to be a good guy – hope things keep looking up and I hope this guy is the real deal...we'll see.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
  10. Filip

    To set something straight which some people seem to have misinterpreted. Catholic Social Teaching does not argue for socialism. In fact, it argues that pure capitalism(pure mind you not abused and twisted) is the best system to employ since all people are able to prosper the most under such a system. Finally, it does not call for a redistribution of wealth. That would be counterproductive to what the Church wants. What CST teaches is that no person can amass excessive wealth(we are talking more money than you will ever spend in your lifetime) while others are barely surviving. I think the best way to explain it is that the Church would like to see the wealth in the world spread out similar to what wealth was like in the U.S. in 1976 or so when even the poorest people were able to live modestly and had good opportunities to move up while those higher up in the wealth distribution were still being fairly rewarded for their hard work.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
  11. Robert Grove

    Is Rush wrong? No. The Pope, and all before him, have essentially advocated a redistribution of wealth and preached about in in equities of capitalism. Coming from the Pope it sounds like charity and good will but measured on a political scale it is closer to Marxism than capitalism. He's not necessarily wrong in his assessment but he's off base in his decision to criticize the Pope in that way. Marxism is a loaded phrase and, while it makes good entertainment, it was an ill advised term for Rush to use to challenge the Pope's position.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
  12. kd

    Does anybody with a brain and half a heart actually listen to that lying bag of pus Limbaugh anymore? Marxist?!? Limbaugh is beyond clueless. He needs to keep cranking up the hate so the money from his hate-base keeps pouring in. Pathetic.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  13. justine

    Rush is so stupid. Capitalism is an economic system. Marxism is a political system, and it advocates violence to obtain this system. The pope has never advocated violence or Marxism. As usual, idiots like Rush have no clue

    December 2, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
  14. Pacman

    Unfortunately, many conservative will have a hard time trying to comprehend what the Pope is saying. They all think poor people are freeloaders no matter what, and do not deserve help. And to think that many call themselves Christians!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
  15. OMG2

    I suppose if the Pope said only the GOP RICH can go to heaven, then he is preaching the right thing. Anything else is MARXISM, OBAMISM and whateverISM.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  16. RamboJohnJ

    Note to GOP, Republicans and Conservatives: Allowing idiots like Limbaugh and Palin to allegedly speak for your causes and beliefs because is not working, nor will it ever help achieve getting one of your party in the White House anytime soon. This is not attack on your religious or conservative beliefs, this is merely informing you that it is 2013, time to set your clocks to current time and realize the world has changed since the precious Reagan years and it's not going back to that time..

    December 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  17. Amy

    Got to admit, I don't really care about Rush or his opinion.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
  18. Reality # 2

    Two misguided humans trying to explain their versions of Christianity but both grossly erroneous theologically and historically so why bother listening to either one?????? And if Francis is serious, he can start by selling off all of the Vatican's art treasures and stock portfolios.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • stan

      preach it dodo

      if u had a job u could give to the poor

      john kerry's got more than all

      December 2, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  19. stan

    and lovin it

    watching nazi god haters flip out like they just seen a demon

    December 2, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  20. stan

    and lovin it

    December 2, 2013 at 11:34 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.