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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. SV

    By all means Rush, please continue to run your mouth at full anti-Catholic volume. The people in your affiliate sales department love nothing more than defending you to the dwindling number of radio stations who find it harder everyday to find businesses willing advertise on your show.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Xavier

      Rush preaches ROBBER BARONISM, these fools think that they are defending Capitalism when all they are doing is helping themselves and the rest of their 1% go to bank with everyone else's money. Over the course of the last 55 years they have decimated the middle class of this GREAT country. All the while they preach about the evils of Socialism and Communism, We need to be protected from the ROBBER BARONS and not from any socialist, "they ain't no Capitalists"

      December 3, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  2. Doc Vestibule

    Lust – 4 marriages. Draw your own conclusions.
    Gluttony – Morbid obesity is a pretty good indicator
    Greed – "Greed has fed more mouths than charity ever could"
    – Limbaugh, Nov. 2011
    Sloth – Again, morbid obesity and a propensity for synthetic opiates don't indicate an active lifestyle.
    Wrath – "You know how to stop abortion? Require that each one occur with a gun"
    – Limbaugh, Jan. 2013
    Pride – Just listen to him talk for 5 minutes.

    The man is awful quick to cast stones at a man who publicly embodies and espouses virtue as opposed to Rush's vice.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • 111Dave111

      Thanks Doc, Just what I needed this am, a 'belly' laugh.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Shee

      Sing it, Doc! Perfectly sums up the right-wing bombast that is Rush-to-Judgment Limbaugh.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  3. Wishing I were Jamie Lynn Grumet's little man

    Thanks RUSH, keep the fires hot until election day, that should remind people why NOT to vote republican!

    December 3, 2013 at 8:46 am |
  4. ThomasR

    Democrats hate Rush because they are racists.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      There's nothing racist about disliking a corpulent, elitist, hate-mongering blowhard.
      Regardless of race, creed or colour – an ass is still an ass.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Garry

      Your about stupid right? Or should I even question that asinine remark of yours...Stupid is as stupid writes, and your a perfect example....

      December 3, 2013 at 8:54 am |
  5. SuZieCoyote

    Capital Christians are CINOs, Christians In Name Only; they can't possibly have read the gospels because there is no way to read a capitalist screed into the words of someone whose major focus was social justice and caring for the weak.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Live4Him

      Care to cite scripture to support your position on this?

      December 3, 2013 at 8:59 am |
      • Xavier

        I guess Jesus died on the cross because he had a lot of money in his pockets. I am no theologian but I don't think that Jesus would have owned an insurance company that paid more for lawyers than they pay for claims.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • Live4Him

          Strawman fallacy.

          December 3, 2013 at 9:40 am |
      • aCriticalEye

        "That which you do unto these, the least of my people, you do unto me", a quote from Jesus the christ.
        So, why is the religious right constantly beating down the poor and infirm, or those that need a helping hand?
        DOWN WITH THE GOP AND TEA CLOWNS!

        December 3, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  6. ThomasR

    Where is unfettered Capitalism? If I thought there was a country where they were practicing unfettered Capitalism I would consider moving there. It certainty has not been in the USA for a very long time.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  7. witness

    Are we sure Rush said this. Are we sure this even happened and it's not just concocted by the liberal media? I would think someone saying the Pope preaches Marxism would be blazoned across the front of Fox News, instead nothing. Even if you search for it on Fox News you can't find the story, as if it never happened. pathetic. Fair & balanced my arrsse. More like filtered news to only report that which supports your viewpoint and keep the rabid lunatic fringe rightwing dogs fed.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • SuZieCoyote

      I love it. "I don't want to be my hero said such a thing, so it never happened." LoL

      December 3, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • usfacts

      Hahaha welcome to the right-wing spin machine. Are we sure he said it? If it wasn't on Fox news it can't be real. Idi0t.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Mack

      Blindly faithful much?

      December 3, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  8. MLegendre

    The last time Limbaugh was remotely relevant the Pope was John Paul II. Why is anyone even listening to this guy anymore. Oh, and by the way, you who assassinate the Pope's character...will be going to Hell.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  9. Charles Bowen

    Rush the Oxycintin Crusader of the Republican't Right has a Credibility Problem.... He Has No Credibility....But that is no problem for the average Republican ....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    December 3, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Robert DesRosiers

      I am a Catholic and am deeply concerned at the political and economic naivety of so many posting on this website. The political stance of the Pope plus his endorsing “green” causes aligns him with American and Global organizations that are focused on removing God from society and are demonizing Christians of all denominations.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:46 am |
      • SuZieCoyote

        Because we all know that preserving the environment for our children is anti-God,"

        December 3, 2013 at 8:49 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        God said we have dominion over the Earth, so drill baby, drill!
        Peace, concern for the environment and the well-being of life – those are liberal causes, not Christian ones – right?
        You sound like the Creationist folk who want to remove evolution from the curriculum not becuase they think its wrong, but becuase they want to separate science from "atheistic naturalism".

        December 3, 2013 at 9:20 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        I'm curious. Can you name those American and global organizations that are anti-God and anti-Christ? Is it part of their mission statements?

        December 3, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  10. jon wilson

    Who cares what this drug addict, college dropout, pampas jerk has to say anyway?

    December 3, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • SV

      Fewer radio affiliates, that's for sure. Maybe they should all switch to Huckabee? Oh wait. Ha ha.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  11. HotAirAce

    So after nearly a day of commentary, with well over 5,000 comments, what's the overall view? 10:1 against Rush? How will this affect the GOP in the next elections?

    December 3, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • likeAplan

      It won't, and it should not because I have yet to see Rush on any ballot.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:39 am |
      • HotAirAce

        So Limbaugh has no effect on voters, for or against?

        December 3, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  12. Franco

    Rush preaches pure BS.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  13. Dave

    Honestly, who cares what Rush Limbaugh has to say? He's a corrupt junkie moron.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Wishing I were Jamie Lynn Grumet's little man

      seems he has a following of over one million other m0r0ns pill heads.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  14. Journey

    I think that the GOP and evangelicals like Rush and Sarah Palin are trying to scapegoat someone for the 2012 election loss. People in society no longer want some top 1% WASP psychopath that thinks the earth "is only 6,000 years old even though it looks 3.5 billion years old" running the U.S. They can't blame themselves, and they can't bring themselves to believe the liberals have an intellectual edge on them, so the next best alternative is blame all the socialist Catholics who infiltrated their ranks over the years. Party purge. Sad.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • SV

      Eventually Rush and Sarah will get around to denouncing that religion entirely because of the number of Hispanics who practice the Catholic faith. (Oh, and those dratted Kennedys!) You want a war on religion? We're gonna have one now. Meet your Generals, ladies and gents! They're gonna start with Catholicism.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  15. truth

    the pope and rush are 1d1ots. Both lie,, well, well, Like a pope. Guess they are the same.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  16. Charles Bowen

    The fact that Limbaugh, Cruz , Boehner ,Palin, Bush, Cheney , and the Teafreaks Exist is proof that God Does not Exist...God Died in the big bang Jesus On the Cross Allah went to god, Muhamed Dead All Dead And Gone and yet we still follow the Religions of the world.....Moses only created the Ten Commandments as a Control for a bunch of Crazy Jews as they Stumbled through the desert....Wake up fools you are in control Not the Guy behind the Curtin....This ain't Kansas anymore TOTO.....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    December 3, 2013 at 8:17 am |
  17. IGWT

    Capitalism in its full glory is a third world country!

    December 3, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • truth

      capitalism works with an underlying layer of socialism. The problem is the middle class pays for market socialism.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:24 am |
      • Charles Bowen

        There Is not much left of the middle class....The Rich need to Pay their Fair Share Pay Up....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

        December 3, 2013 at 8:36 am |
        • Wishing I were Jamie Lynn Grumet's little man

          "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" translated means ..."let em eat cake", a phrase issued forth by the conservative oligarchy just before they had their heads physically removed from their shoulders.

          December 3, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  18. Honey Badger Don't Care

    That bloated sack of garbage is a complete waste of human flesh. And the same with Rush.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • truth

      they both sell vapor and people buy it.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:20 am |
  19. Joe D

    so Rush, here's a challenge to you, are you up for a drug tests? Feeling lucky punk?

    December 3, 2013 at 8:16 am |
  20. kiki27

    Yeah, and Jesus was a stinking liberal......

    December 3, 2013 at 8:14 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.