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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. Arnold

    Isnt Rush Catholic:?

    December 3, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  2. Mary Kaye

    This particular Pope is preaching what Jesus taught. And that's Marxism? Rush, you really aren't a Christian, are you? First four books of the New Testament – have you ever read them? They tell you what Jesus taught, what he said, all the things that right-wing conservative "Christians" (in name only) ignore completely. I'm an atheist and I think this Pope is great, He might finally get the American Catholic Church out of everyone's pockets and into doing the work they're supposed to be doing.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Mary Kaye : This particular Pope is preaching what Jesus taught.

      Article: The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

      How do you reconcile these two disparate statements? If the Pope is preaching what Jesus taught, where did Christ ever delve into government policies?

      December 3, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • BRC

        You can keep posting this, I will keep posting this-
        Live4Him,
        Capitalism is not a political system, it is an economic system/model. when he sais people who wield economic power, that is not necessarily directed at politics or government, it is directed at those who control the most money. In some cases it's politicians, but more often it is the wealthy few of the world. And while it is an unfortunate fact that those with the most money are able to exert an undue amount of influence on political processes, it does not make them a part of the government.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  3. Mark

    The only thing that is more disturbing than Rush's comments are the fools who agree with him. If they could think for themselves they would pick up the Bible and find that the Pope's comments are what Jesus preached. Pope + Jesus = Marxist? Really? Please ask for forgiveness before it's too late.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:52 am |
  4. myweightinwords

    I will say that I have never listened to Limbaugh's show, however, I have seen and heard a lot about him in the press over the years. The impression that I get from what I've seen is that he is a very angry man.

    It must be hard to go through life that angry.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      He suffers from anal cysts and fissures. That keeps him angry, I would expect.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  5. mos

    Let's see. Who knows more about the message of Jesus? Rush Limbaugh or Pope Francis? Who has the most moral authority? Who is the wisest? It's absurd to even ask the question. Rush is a shill for elitist money interests and keeps the masses in line for them.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  6. pianoman

    Anybody that takes anything Rush Limbaugh seriously has a serious reality problem....he is an entertainer, just like Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, etc. And what the pope is saying is true, sound biblical doctrine that.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  7. Michael

    This will really help our foreign relations, Rush. If other countries didn't like us before he opened his mouth, they do now. Way to go Rush. The ambassador or ridiculousness.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  8. gager

    I would suggest that Daniel Burke and all the other liberals do some research and discover the evils of Marxism and the number of people killed for the sake of that failed policy.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • PushingBack

      Or perhaps you just need to realize that Limbaugh is an utter and complete fool.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • kathy

      I would suggest you find a ounce of evidence that Pope Francis is preaching anything that resembles Marxism. He is preaching love, tolerance and our responsibility of looking after each other...esp the poor. Rush is fat drug addict bigot...so who do you think has more relevance?

      December 3, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • MaryM

      I suggest you READ and understand what Marxism is. Education is the key, TRY IT

      December 3, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • tallulah13

      Try reading the whole headline before you comment, gager. There was a whole context there that you missed.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  9. A Wise Old Man

    Responsible Capitalism is obviously the best system in the world. However, anyone who has ever played a game of Monopoly knows the outcome of unregulated capitalism.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • gager

      Capitalism by definition means unregulated by gov ernment. The best regulator is the free market and the consumers.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:47 am |
      • Marcia

        and when your company sends your job overseas to save $1 off your salary will you still love it

        December 3, 2013 at 9:52 am |
      • Eric Washington

        That sounds great until you factor in experience and history. There's a reason there are laws against monopolies, child labor, and polluting the ecosystem we depend on. I'd rather see capitalism curbed early then see the massive amount of decline in quality of life, health, and prosperity for the overwhelming majority of the population necessary to balance the scales via the free market.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:56 am |
      • tallulah13

        The problem with capitalism is that it only works when those who practice it are honest. Those who use it as an excuse for unbridled greed make it unfeasible. When those who control the wealth also control the laws, the opportunities offered by capitalism are all but lost to all but the very wealthy few. Greed is the why Marxism exists - the greed of those who would rob the poor to line their own pockets. Extreme greed creates an extreme backlash. History is full of examples.

        A healthy middle class is vital for capitalism to succeed. That is a lesson the neocons have forgotten, and it will cost them.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  10. Snake

    What does this prove?

    We have comments from the Pope regarding the evils of the love of money...we have comments from American conservatives criticizing the Pope for his comments regarding the evils of the love of money.

    So the American right wing has proven itself, beyond a shadow of a doubt: Their entire political agenda is built upon the LOVE OF MONEY.

    And did you notice: This story isn't on Fox News. Anywhere!

    December 3, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Mike

      Because your statement is uninformed, prejudicial, and not at all intellectual. Do you think Rush Limbaugh speaks for me or everyone else? There is utterly no difference between Rush and Ed Schultz. Both blowhard shock jocks whose job is to get ratings, not speak for the masses.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  11. mark

    Rush obviously hasn't read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm) and is not familiar with the Precepts of the Catholic Church. Most conservatives would be quite surprised by it. They might not be as Christian as they thought they were!

    December 3, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  12. jesustheman

    count me in as another proud MARXIST catholic then!

    December 3, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  13. John

    Finally a Pope who acts Christ-like and those on the right that like to call themselves Christian are so afraid that it may cost them one of their precious nickels that they resort to caling the Pope names. Remember people, you can't take it with you. If you truly believe that you will have to stand before God one day and account for yourself you don't want to have a history of selfishness, greed and indifference for the least among them. Remember Christ said, "for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great." Rush Limbaugh is so far from Christian it is difficult for me to believe that anyone would think that listening to his show would do any good for their soul.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Live4Him

      @John : Finally a Pope who acts Christ-like

      Article: The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

      How do you reconcile these two disparate statements? If the Pope is acting Christ-like, where did Christ ever delve into government policies?

      December 3, 2013 at 9:45 am |
      • joseph

        have you actually read about the life of Jesus?

        December 3, 2013 at 9:50 am |
        • Arthur Paliden

          They probably do not read fiction.

          December 3, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • Live4Him

          Lets see, I've been to seminary and I read through the Bible at least once a year, so what do you think? Does that qualify as actually reading about the life of Jesus to you?

          December 3, 2013 at 9:56 am |
        • Live4Him

          @Arthur Paliden : They probably do not read fiction.

          I do almost every night. It helps me relax to go to sleep. However, I also read a lot of non-fiction during the other times of the day.

          December 3, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • BRC

        Live4Him,
        Capitalism is not a political system, it is an economic system/model. when he sais people who wield economic power, that is not necessarily directed at politics or government, it is directed at those who control the most money. In some cases it's politicians, but more often it is the wealthy few of the world. And while it is an unfortunate fact that those with the most money are able to exert an undue amount of influence on political processes, it does not make them a part of the government.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:58 am |
        • JohnC

          yep. Jesus wasn't much for politics but indirectly very much for economics. Between saying that it's easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle that for a rich person to get into heaven THEN saying feed the poor he sent a pretty clear message. People can argue just what is rich, what is poor and such matters but the basic concept is quite clear.

          December 3, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • carter

        Well, he did beat with sticks and expel the money changers.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:59 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        I think Christ had one or two things to say about greed, though....

        December 3, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • Gdawg

        ...remember the money-changers and the Temple? oh, you forgot that part... and there is no inconsistency in the Pope's comments with Jesus' tenets... you are simply making an issue where none exists, because you'd like to believe that there is something righteous about capitalism... good luck with that

        December 3, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  14. Arnold

    The pope rules!

    December 3, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  15. jb_n_atl

    In response to Pope Francis' message on the evils of love of money, Wasilla Barbie (aka sarah palin) stated she was "taken aback by the pope's liberal statements", rush limbaugh has called the pope a "Marxist" and stuart varney publicly rejected the Pope outright, saying he simply has to "go to church to save my soul".

    (Somebody, perhaps his preacher, needs to remind varney that going to church doesn't save your soul, it's what you do when you leave the service that makes the difference)

    Why are conservatives waging a war on God?

    December 3, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Maybe God has come out.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • JohnC

      Since there was never a definitive guide to how to interpret the Bible people can pick and choose. This led to a big split among those that latched on to the words that having faith in Jesus is what is needed to get to heaven vs words that say things like how it's easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into heaven or help the poor. Then of course there's the lack of a definition of rich and of course we all know each of us no matter how much you make is not quite rich 😉

      December 3, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  16. TotalRecall

    Rush is an entertainer, the original troll who speaks in order to gather responses from people. He gets paid millions to do this. The Pope is a religious leader who speaks in order to direct the Catholic Church. He gets no salary. These two people are worlds apart, each not understanding the other.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Rational Thought

      Really? The Pope is poor? The jewels, the gold, the palaces, the servants?

      December 3, 2013 at 9:39 am |
      • TotalRecall

        I didn't say he was poor, just that he doesn't receive a salary. Everything is provided for him, like a good Marxist.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Gary WInters

      "Rush Limbaugh is the original troll" ....saying offensive things just to make people angry ....
      You've hit the nail on the head.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  17. Rosslaw

    Rush is mad because the Church refuses to distribute oxycontin at communinon.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • PushingBack

      He'd also like communion to be a buffet.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:55 am |
  18. GreyBeard

    The GOP has no problems using the church to further their anti-choice for women. I've never seen a group more hypocritical than Republicans. How can they be that ignorant to not see this? 2012 was the last election in which I'll ever push the button for a GOP candidate.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  19. Anna

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeedE8vH1FQ&w=640&h=360]
    .
    '

    December 3, 2013 at 9:24 am |
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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.