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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. Joe D

    I'd like to see Rush take a drug tests, and see if this junkie passes!

    December 3, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  2. Reality # 2

    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 3, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  3. Rick Dugan

    Rush better choose his words very carefully. When his time comes he will be really surprised to find that he will be standing face to face with Jesus Christ and not Warren Buffet.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • igaftr

      And won't you be surprised when you are standing before Quetzlcoatl and he is angry at you for worshipping the wrong god.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:19 am |
      • wolverene13

        For shame, for shame...Zeus would be super-pi$$ed to know that you're worshiping Quetzlcoatl

        December 3, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  4. Brandon

    Well, if you actually READ the bible, Jesus is wayyyyy more of a socialist/communist than a capitalist. So I'm not really sure what Rush is complaining about.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Milton Platt

      Long range, Jesus preached for the establishment of a Theocracy.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  5. Joe D

    This comes from the big junkie himself, as long as he has money for his habits, who cares what this a'hole thinks!

    December 3, 2013 at 8:09 am |
  6. Teresa

    Limbaugh doesn't recognize the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus preached against the worship of money, helped and fed the poor and told people to love other people. This is Christianity, not Marxism. People like Limbaugh and Sarah Palin might call themselves Christians, but their beliefs are far removed from the teachings of Jesus.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:07 am |
  7. kevin flannigan

    Well do you expect from a guy and his bluebirds, cardinals, whatever they call themselves, when they all dress like women.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • Reality # 2

      Tis about tradition. Monks have been dressing like this for years. They, however, keep the colors brown or black.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • IGWT

      Riiigght Mr. Flannigan, not that the Irish don't wear dresses as well to show they are men...

      December 3, 2013 at 8:13 am |
  8. Stephen

    Ha! It gets harder and harder for this old, fat fool to make headlines. Not enough to trash a president anymore, got to make stupid, offensive remarks about the pope. I'm atheist so this has nothing to do with religion, just basic human decency of which Limburger has none.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • just wondering

      "Basic human decency" is a good quality. Seems lacking in many comments posted here. Christian,atheist,Muslim it matters not. Practicing basic human decency is the point!

      December 3, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  9. Tom Z

    The Pharisees were supportive of Jesus up until that incident in the temple and the MONEY tables. Looks like Rush has a choice, MONEY or the other thing he professes to support. "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me" was that Marx too? Rush we know what you worship.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:51 am |
    • aCriticalEye

      Your post is exactly why I have come to despise the "Religious Right". Money first, all for me and none for you, and I dont care if your old and infirm, "Get a job you bum" and stop stealing from me.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  10. Larry H.

    Anybody that actually enjoys this fools rantings has some real issues. This guy is a big mouth hate monger.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • tatanka

      "Three hours of hate, five times a week."

      December 3, 2013 at 7:58 am |
      • Pardon Me but......

        It's sad that he is even tolerated. But, it's a free country, he's an entertainer, and he's free to share his offal like anyone else. I believe he's actually quite silly – yet he's looked up to by millions. What does that say about our current state of affairs? Since when did Tolerance and Compassion become equated with Marxism?

        December 3, 2013 at 8:17 am |
  11. skytag

    ""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."

    This from a guy who has never done anything in his life but spout his uninformed opinions into microphones.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Larry H.

      I agree 100%.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:50 am |
  12. Thalia

    The time to stop worshipping the "Gold Calf" (Market Bull) has come people.
    For all people around the world that choose to genuinely (not for a tax deduction) help children , poor countries and save yourselves you need to follow God.
    You do this by separating yourselves from aggressive "I win, You lose" capitalism and profits at all costs. Your country is suffering from a deep depression which is being treated with consumerism "buy more". You need to be closer to God to get better and then your country will turn around. Help the world be a better place by standing for less Wars, less "special interests" and more Love/Compassion for yourselves and everyone.
    People you are here on a Spiritual journey to find God and ignore all the distractions. Remember that.
    How do you start? Well you first Love God and listen to him and then start by setting up an "Ethical Stock Market" that serves people, workers and the environment, and not just itself.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      While I can appreciate your sentiments, please bear in mind that belief in the supernatural is not required to live a life of compassion, charity, and humility.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:01 am |
  13. Richard

    Limbaugh - really??? A man that makes an estimated $$40MM a year, blasting the popes view for better treatment of the poor, which is hardly a Marxist view! The Pope understands that our economic structures are designed to leave the marginilized behind, which is a problem, that is if you care about people, which Limbaugh probably doesn't! The Pope isn't an economist, but as a leader of the Catholic faith, he clearly professes and articulates what caring is all about, regardless of the individual background.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • skytag

      "that is if you care about people, which Limbaugh probably doesn't!"

      Rush Limbaugh cares about himself and some would argue he's a person.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      No, it's not remotely Marxism but since most of these guys spent decades arguing that even having copies of Marx in a school library was a doorway to communism, few in the US can recognize the difference. If you demand an ignorant population you're likely to get one.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:51 am |
  14. johnonline

    Isn't this the same blow hole who was addicted to pain medication while trashing everyone with a pain medication addiction problem? What comes out of this degenerates mouth is equivalent to someone passing wind.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:45 am |
  15. ratsoup

    Who was it that said " religion is the opiate of the people " ??? I do not recall, was it Marx or Lennin ?
    As for Limbaugh... entertainment, just entertainment. But you have to admit, the man has a following.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:40 am |
    • aCriticalEye

      Karl Marx, written in his Communist Manifesto

      December 3, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  16. Phillip Bunn

    I would much rather hear the Pope's Marxism than "Limbull's" Bulls–t. At least, Marxism has some redeeming qualities.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      Except that he's not actually Marxist. But yeah, I'd rather hear his economics than Limbaugh.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:41 am |
  17. woodie

    I can't stand Limbaugh. Why is he still around? He's a flaming fascist.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • skytag

      He's a hate-mongering rabble rouser and there are millions of people who hate the people he targets.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:47 am |
  18. Paul Vondra

    It has been clear for a long time that the doctrine Limbaugh preaches: The exaltation of money and material wealth as representative of a person's HUMAN value, contempt and hatred for the poor, bigotry, arrogant conceit, etc., has become indistinguishable from satanism. This makes it more so.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:36 am |
  19. ShawnDH

    It's American conservatives who have an extremist ideology. Their demented Capitalism With No Conscience worldview is evil and more and more people are seeing that.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • andrew

      Is that your free Obama phone I hear ringing?

      December 3, 2013 at 7:37 am |
      • wolverene13

        Wow, Obama was President when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed? I never knew that. Unless of course you're just misinformed about those "free" phones you're talking about. Yeah, that's probably it.

        December 3, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      They tend to think the options are unrestrained capitalism or Marxism, something you could only believe with severe deficits in your education. If the pope is Marxist every country on earth is Marxist. Increasing equality can, in fact, be done in an entirely Capitalist country, but these dimwits wouldn't recognize true Marxism if it bit them on the bums.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      I'd call it more ignorant than evil, but that's really semantics. Given a weak enough education most humans, rich or poor, will support an ideology that justifies their own accu.mulation of greater wealth. In the US the anti-communist frenzy meant decades in which US students weren't taught about alternative economic and social theories and we're still paying the price.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:48 am |
      • Tom Martin

        I loved reading your confession. Well done.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  20. Sara(swati)

    Seriously people, redistribution of wealth is not Marxism. If you haven't actually read Marx please, please stay out of the conversation. Rush Limbaugh is embarrassing enough for this country without every second random citizen showing how poor our education system is.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:29 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.