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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. D

    Ah yes, we can see clearly which "god" good ol El Rushbo really worships, hehe

    December 3, 2013 at 1:24 am |
  2. religion preaches death for your god

    the true believers of what men in dresses preach are willing to die for the men in dresses, they also believe money is worth everything, the pope can preach about the poor but the church horded and hordes untold amounts of money, gold, etc., hypocrites the lot

    December 3, 2013 at 1:23 am |
  3. sam

    Only in America you'll find a hollow minded pseudo intellectual have a radio station and listeners to go with it.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  4. Ram Jispy

    Pope said it clearly, republican policies are anti Christ!

    December 3, 2013 at 1:19 am |
  5. ozzie313

    the only bigger idiots than Rush are the people who listen to HIS right wing religion.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:18 am |
  6. tricky_dick

    Well, no matter what anyone else here says, Rush is a good Christian, a Republican Christian, which is the best. This means no matter what, he'll get to heaven.
    It will be a wonderful place, too–a place with streets paved in gold, meaning that money will have no meaning. And Rush, just like all good Christians in heaven, will not suffer from any wants. Everything will be provided for him freely, there in that beautiful place in the clouds. It will truly be wonderful!
    Yes, as a reward for all his good Christian deeds and for a lifetime devoted to getting richer and richer and richer, he'll be able to spend all eternity forever and ever and ever as, well, a Communist.
    Yes, indeed, Rush, your reward is truly in heaven. Way to go. Keep up the good works, comrade.
    Enjoy your eternity in the most awesome ultimate commune ever created!
    All Good Christians take heed, your communist reward awaits!

    December 3, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • sam

      For the sake of your fellow heaven dwellers I hope that he wouldn't be given a radio station .

      December 3, 2013 at 1:23 am |
  7. Luke

    Limbaugh does not need to apologize for anything. I cannot stand listening to Limbaugh but the Pope is clearly out of his element talking about economics. Stick to the bible.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • Tom

      You mean the Bible that says the rich can't enter Heaven, that you should sell all of your material goods and give your money to the poor, and that you should live a simple life? Lol.

      December 3, 2013 at 1:12 am |
  8. CLAYTON LEON WINTON

    My Jew-ish faith is not about "choosing sides" in this discussion; but what I observe, is a simple man, Pope Francis, following his heart, freely expressing himself, in his own freely-chosen words, about the world, about a topic, and, a simple-minded "commentary" of ad hominem by a "phaaat-cat" who knows only luxury, nothing of substance offered, just ad hominem, against a simple, honest man for his free-expressions. I love both men. It saddens me when topical analysis is reduced to ad hominem, asymmetrically, subtly or inferred. We all struggle with this, it is a "human condition." We must all strive to do better. Kind regards, always.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:57 am |
  9. elvinmerij

    If the Pope is a Communist, does that make Limbaugh a Nazi?

    December 3, 2013 at 12:51 am |
  10. Thomas

    Somebody needs to tell Rush theres a longline of people in Hell waiting for ice water !

    I think he will be sent to the end of the line.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:49 am |
  11. elvinmerij

    KKK also hate Catholics.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  12. elvinmerij

    The thieves, of course, want to protect capitalism.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:47 am |
  13. brian

    I once met Limbaugh's mother. She said she had a miscarriage the day Rush was born.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:47 am |
  14. DIRTY MIKE

    THIS POOPE IS CRUSHING IT

    December 3, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • DIRTY MIKE

      THIS POPE IS CRUSHING IT REAL HARD

      December 3, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  15. Jack R

    Sad when someone's trying to gain some relevance in a world that has moved beyond him and marginalized his sorry ass. Time to get back on your meds, Rush.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  16. George

    Read the gospel of Luke and you will see Christ attacking the financial and power system of Israel. Is is said to be a 'prophet' in Luke and he criticizes the religious leaders, saying that they 'devoured the houses of widows while living in palaces". Read it. Then in the book of James we have that if someone does not help the poor, will that faith save him? If you think that Christ died only to save us from sin and send us to church, think again. They killed him because he threatened their religious, political and financial systems. If you read the Old Testament, you have the 'Year of the Jubilee' where all property went back to the original owners. This was a way of 'leveling the field'. Too many North Americans read only Paul and pick and choose the parts of the scripture that fit the system that they have built up over decades and centuries. I have too admit, however, that I am one of these, but I am beginning to wonder about what I have always thought about Christ. Limbaugh may criticize the Pope, but by doing so, I think he is criticizing Christ himself. If you read the scriptures from cover to cover (not dismissing some parts as being irrelevant) instead of in piecemeal fashion, I think you will be amazed at what is actually said.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  17. Rivethead

    Is that really any worse than the pure fascism Limbarf preaches?

    December 3, 2013 at 12:37 am |
  18. blinky

    You know, think about it. The Pope has all Catholics around the world and basically the remainder of the Western world too for an audience. The CNN article says Rush has a radio show that reaches 15 million Americans... well hardy har har.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • Forbetter Orworse

      "Reaches" certainly doesn't mean "tuning in"... After all, it's just radio! I think he supposedly "reaches" me too, and I thought he fell off the planet years ago shortly after his drug conviction!

      December 3, 2013 at 1:39 am |
  19. Journey

    The Obama Administration has driven the world to a new level of desperation. Now even the Pope has become so desperate that he has to turn to socialism for economic and spiritual meaning. We can no longer hide the damage this administration has done.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:35 am |
    • Observer

      Journey,

      You spammed the same NONSENSE earlier, but it's still just as funny. lol.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:39 am |
  20. Name*dale perry

    CNN, please stop giving any credence to this man. Please ignore him.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:34 am |
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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.