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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. edm

    Rush Limbaugh is the epitome of stupid in America. If he had high school education he would have learned that the Catholic Church supported Marxism as it emerged during the French revolution. Why didn't he mention that? Once again the American people are misled by Fat, Big-Mouthed Arrogant, White American Men.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • LeRoy_Was_Here

      Marxism emerged during the French Revolution?!??

      How very weird, since Karl Marx hadn't even been born yet. He was born in 1818.

      Speaking of the epitome of stupid......

      December 3, 2013 at 10:24 am |
      • edm

        http://poetry.rapgenius.com/Karl-marx-communist-manifesto-chap-3-socialist-and-communist-literature-part-1-reactionary-socialism-lyrics#note-2025483

        Sorry.....your ignorance supports the ignorance and arrogance of the American person. The French Revolution didn't start until 1830.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • Rationalintn

          Clearly, you have internet access. It's not difficult to perform a google search on "French Revolution timeline", so you can discover how wrong you are.

          December 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  2. Caspar Gomes

    Liberals don't normally care for religion and attack the catholic church all the time... but they sure love this Pope.

    This Pope said and did little about the right wing and left wing kooks who ruined Argentina. Now of course he has lots of opinions and we all better get on board the wealth redistribution express.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Bob Bobson

      Jesus was a liberal.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:22 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        Jesus was imaginary

        December 3, 2013 at 10:27 am |
        • MarylandBill

          To say that Jesus was not God and/or that God does not exist is a perfectly reasonable position to hold. To claim that Jesus was imaginary is delusional requiring magical thinking of the most extraordinary sort to explain how Christianity became established.

          December 3, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • skytag

      Name on prosperous nation that has no form of limited wealth or income redistribution.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  3. teamster85

    I used to enjoy Rush for his entertainment value and then started to realize that he is a dangerous man. The worse thing about him is that others of his ilk like Beck, Hanitty, etc. has sprung up like dandellions. Whatever happened to The Fairness Doctrine?

    December 3, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • skytag

      Rush Limbaugh has done more harm to our political system than any other one person in our history.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  4. ShawnDH

    Right-wing Americans are crazy fanatics.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  5. Mr. Duckworth

    Nutty Rush Limbaugh, is he still around? Old Rush, in true media style, has to exaggerate and sensationalize statements to generate attention – this is getting old. Pope Francis' main economic message is exactly in line with Pope Benedict and Pope JPII – all have stated in various ways that unbalanced Corporate Financial interests, and the idolatry of money negatively impacts families and takes advantage of the poor and also the working class. And he speaks as if the Corporate Global powers aren't powerful enough and need defenders.
    Pope Francis is simply pointing out what everyone knows : those in power with their greed for money and profits, trample on people, human families and human dignity.
    Sounds like old Rush is a multi millionaire so it's clear where his concern lies.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  6. Not Too Hard to Understand

    But to be fair, folks, no one ever said Limbaugh had any real understanding of any economic theories.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  7. admiralbrown

    Rush says things for ratings, he is an entertainer, this is how he makes his living. If Rush didn't make outrageous statements that would get his listeners going he would have no following and no radio show. My only question is how much of what he says he actually believes.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  8. Chip Shirley

    RUSH TUMBLES ATTACKING THE POPE!
    For years Limbaugh has succeeded at brainwashing low-information voters who only listen to him and Fox. If I was on the air with him for ONE MINUTE A YEAR I could deflate his lies with historical facts, but now he's BLOWN HIS PHONY CAREER BY ATTACKING THE POPE! He called the Pope a Marxist and he has said Liberals and Marxists WORSHIP LUCIFER! If you want to see the Pearly Gates you'd best denounce this selfish hateful liar!

    December 3, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  9. Chip Shirley

    RUSH TUMBLES ATTACKING THE POPE!
    For years Limbaugh has succeeded at brainwashing low-information voters who only listen to him and Fox. If I was on the air with him for ONE MINUTE A YEAR I could deflate his lies with historical facts, but now he's BLOWN HIS PHONY CAREER BY ATTACKING THE POPE! He called the Pope a Marxist and he has said Liberals and Marxists WORSHIP LUCIFER! If you want to see the Pearly Gates you'd best denounce this selfish hateful liar!
    http://ChipShirley.Com/

    December 3, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  10. Live4Him

    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."
    @BRC : 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.

    First, 'trickle-down economics' was a government policy recently. Second, my point is that Christ never addressed either politics NOR economics. Instead, he focused on the person's heart. So, one cannot claim that talking about either politics or economics is Christ-like.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • BRC

      Live4Him,
      "Trickle-down economics" is not a recent government policy. The phrase went into wide spread use over 30 years ago, then principle has been around probably since people started using money. It is the idea that in an economy, if the top layers are allowed to flourish, especially unrestrained, then their success will result in an influx of money into the economy, which will in turn benefit ALL layers of the economy, because more money in means more money for all. It is a concept that AFFECTED GOVERNMENT POLICY, and caused various regulations on businesses, wages, and banks to be removed and restrictions to be loosened so that the top tiers of the US economy could really gain more and kick the trickle-down effect into overdrive. But here's the thing, it didn't and doesn't work, because people are people; we tend to be kind of self-centered and awful. Power corrupts and all that, so once those top tiers started getting all that they wanted, they didn't start throwing money back into the economy at large, they horded it, and fought to get more (the stock market alone pretty much kills the concept of trickle down economics, the ultra wealthy don't throw millions of dollars into their local grocery stores and services, they put money into stocks, that turns it into more "money", inflating the economy while providing no tangible effect or benefit to anyone who isn't already very well off). That's not a government principle, it is an aspect of economies, and an example of human behavior and greed. And whether or not Jesus ever spoke about economies, I dare you to say that he did not speak out about greed, and talk about how all, especially those with the most, had a duty to those with the least.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:19 am |
      • LeRoy_Was_Here

        Trickle-down economics is like feeding the birds by giving more oats to the horses.

        Might not want to think about that too deeply, if you just finished your breakfast......

        December 3, 2013 at 10:29 am |
      • Live4Him

        @BRC : "Trickle-down economics" is not a recent government policy. The phrase went into wide spread use over 30 years ago

        If you want to play semantic games, knock yourself out. I won't play the game.

        @BRC : Power corrupts and all that

        You seem to agree that power corrupts, be it individuals OR the government.

        @BRC : inflating the economy while providing no tangible effect or benefit to anyone who isn't already very well off

        Your lack of economic understanding has been revealed with this statement. If a wealthy individual pours money into Microsoft or Apple (as an example), this enables these companies to optimize their production process, thereby reducing their costs. As their costs go down, so do the cost of their products. Lower prices on a PC or iPhone enables even the poor to own one – inproving their standard of living.

        @BRC : And whether or not Jesus ever spoke about economies, I dare you to say that he did not speak out about greed

        This is a non sequitur logic fallacy. While I agree that Jesus condemned greed, there is no logical connection between trickle-down economics and greed, albiet a connection could exist simply because of the "power corrupts" issue that we've agreed upon. However, this connection would equally apply to EVERY economic / government policy.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Parakletos

      The Bible teaches social communism. To ignore this is to ignore the Bible.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:19 am |
      • Bill Johnson

        How can the bible teach something that did not formally exist until about 2000 years later. The bible teaches us to respect one another, to care for the downtrodden and be true and honest. If this means that those with money are expected, as good Christians, to help care for the less fortunate that sounds good, but it does not mean wealth distribution.

        Rush is a radio actor (like a TV or movie actor). He is going to say things for no other reason than to get people riled up. I know that he does not believe what he says. All he believes in is generating an audience so that the advertising dollars can pour in. I am fine with that but what makes this so wrong is that the majority of listeners believe what he says. That is dangerous. That would be like taking Brad Pitts advice on things like Syria and Iran. Even liberals don't do that.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:30 am |
        • BRC

          Bill,
          Actually the Bible, especially the OT, pretty explicitly calls for distirbution of wealth. It lays our rather clear and calculated directions as to how much of each resouces the tribes are to give to those who had been designated to conduct the rituals adn run the temples. So, those who took the time to grow their own food and gather their own resources are required to give a portion of their own personal gains to a smaller group that is less capable of doing so. Now, explain how that is NOT social communism?

          December 3, 2013 at 10:38 am |
        • CJ

          What are you talking about wealth distribution. That is parroting the propaganda from Fox News, and it sickens me to my soul when I hear Christians and more so so called Christian leaders doing this. We have wealth distribution now for the top. There has NEVER been a bigger gap between the top and the middle and poor.

          December 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
      • Monk

        All human Government –comes from Satanic influence you–how can you connect a failed human systematic ruler ship and every kind have failed since the fall in Eden. if the first pair would nothave sinned they would still be here and all human kind would know is the ways of almighty God and existing on a paradise earth–wich still is comming.the reason he didn't destroy Satan immediately is because he posed a Question as to almighty Gods right to sovereignty ..the Question has been answered. He allowed this..and gave the provision for His Kingdom Under His Son Jesus To crush these pathetic failed attempts at the human race to govern themselves..with their painfullly destructive cruel Satanic greedy oppressive ways
        We are Deep into the end of this system and the change is coming soon

        (Luke 4:5-7) So he brought him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in an instant of time; 6 and the Devil said to him: “I will give you all this authority and the glory of them, because it has been delivered to me, and to whomever I wish I give it. 7 You, therefore, if you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.”

        (Revelation 13:2) Now the wild beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were as those of a bear, and its mouth was as a lion’s mouth. And the dragon(SATAN) gave to [the beast] (WORLD POLITICAL SYSTEM)its power and its throne and great authority.

        jer 10:23 I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.

        (John 14:30) I shall not speak much with YOU anymore, for the ruler of the world is coming. And he has no hold on me,

        (2 Corinthians 4:4) among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.

        (1 John 5:19) We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the [power of the] wicked one.

        (Daniel 2:44) “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite;

        Matt. 6:9-13: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘[1] Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. [2] Let your kingdom come. [3] Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.

        Armageddon

        Rulers and armies of all nations will be assembled in opposition to God
        Rev. 16:14: “They go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.”
        Rev. 19:19: “I saw the wild beast [human political rulership as a whole] and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army.”
        Jer. 25:33: “Those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth.”

        Rev 20

        20 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 And he hurled him into the abyss and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Vic

      Jesus wasn't just about your "heart." He preached at length about taking care of the least among us, and that what soever you do to these least, you do unto him. He preached at length about feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, caring for the sick, and clothing the naked. Jesus was clear that your salvation is directly tied to these works. I know these are all facets of the gospels that protestant largely ignore, but it really is their true essence. These "works" define you as either Christian in name only, or in deed.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • Live4Him

        @Vic : Jesus wasn't just about your "heart." He preached at length about taking care of the least among us

        If one cares for the least among us, what does that say about that person's heart? Jesus said clean the inside of the cup (i.e. the heart) and then the outside will be clean too (i.e. works).

        @Vic : Jesus was clear that your salvation is directly tied to these works.

        Salvation is by grace, not by works. However, faith without works is equally dead. I can quote scripture for both principles, but I think you're a fellow Christian so I won't unless requested.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Live4Him
      Is Christ not declaring a Jubilee year in Luke 4:16?
      As such, was He not, in so many words, calling for the land owners, slave owners and wealth hoarders to cede their ownings for re-distribution, as the Torah proclaimed should happen every 50 years?

      December 3, 2013 at 10:27 am |
      • Live4Him

        @Doc Vestibule : Is Christ not declaring a Jubilee year in Luke 4:16? As such, was He not, in so many words, calling for the land owners, slave owners and wealth hoarders to cede their ownings for re-distribution

        You obviously don't understand the Jubilee concept. Their 'ownings' were never redistributed. Rather, all debts were considered 'paid-in-full', and the owners got their OWN property back.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:03 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          The idea of the Jubilee is that debors not be forever and irrevecobly indentured to their creditors.
          Hence, Hebrew slaves got to go home and creditors who took land or other assets as collateral had to return it.
          That is not free-market capitalism as capitalists do not forgive debt and, as evidenced by the Reaganomic fallout we are living in today, they like to hoard wealth and assets in order to wield more power and control.
          Christ rebuked the money lenders for such things – and yet teh same behhaviour is lauded by US right-wingers.

          December 3, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • danny

      Live4Him said "Second, my point is that Christ never addressed either politics NOR economics. Instead, he focused on the person's heart. "

      Is there stuff in the Bible about open heart surgery or repairing valves and junk?

      December 3, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  11. poor richard

    This suggests that the conservative republicans have elevated their ideology
    to the level of a relgion and they perceive Chrstianity to be a threat to their "Relgion".

    It is not possible to be both a Republican and a Christian at the same time. It never was.
    You must chose.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Live4Him

      Where did Christ oppose republicans in the Bible?

      December 3, 2013 at 10:09 am |
      • Jackie Gauvin

        Republicans did not exist until the 19th century so they are not mentioned in the Bible.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:14 am |
        • Live4Him

          Then you agree that poor richard's posit has been falsified.

          December 3, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • PopeStalinII

        2 John 2:13-17

        December 3, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • Bob Bobson

        Republicans oppose Christ's teachings and pretend to be Christians.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • Vic

        Christ didn't oppose republicans because they didn't exist. But he staunchly opposed behaviors that are at the heart of Republican ideology. Is this really that difficult for you?

        December 3, 2013 at 10:26 am |
        • Live4Him

          @Vic : Christ didn't oppose republicans because they didn't exist. But he staunchly opposed behaviors that are at the heart of Republican ideology.

          So you allege, but where's the proof? Are you sure you're not projecting YOUR views into the situation?

          December 3, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • lll

      Sad to say, you are so right.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • lwest702

      So it's not possible that Pope Francis was talking about rampant capitalism? Against corporate greed? I'm all for capitalism if integrity is practiced. is it? Not so much? I think he's just talking about the absence of greed. Keeping God first...not loving money. That's all in the Bible.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Well, regarding financial policy maybe – but the vast majority of those defending the defenseless baby in the womb are Republicans. The greatest human rights violation / civil rights issue of our day is abortion. Two hundred years from now people will look back and say, how could people have supported slavery in the 1800's ? And how could people have supported abortions in the 2000's ?

      December 3, 2013 at 10:20 am |
      • CJ

        You don't support the child when it's born tho do you or support all the things that would help mothers not have abortions, like raising minimum wage, birth control, etc., raising rates on women's jobs, something us liberals do support. You know women still can get paid less than men for the same job, and most of women's jobs that are comparable pay less, something that's talked about very little, ulness you're in a union, something else right wingers are against, and I've seen Christian preachers talk against.

        December 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • aCriticalEye

      I totally agree with Poor Richard. The Tea party version of christianity was NOT taught by Jesus.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  12. sftommy

    Pope and anti-Pope

    guess who is which

    December 3, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  13. Carl

    And Limbaugh preaches big fat idiotism!

    December 3, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  14. obawendon

    Rush is a sad man. He is so full of hate and rage. His vile radio show should be taken off the air and he should be placed in a home for the insane. All he does is whip the flames of hate and rage in those who listen to him. He is the sad side of the American Dream.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  15. jeff in wayne

    Based on Matt 19: 16-24, I guess Limbaugh would have labeled Christ a radical Marxist as well.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  16. Amy

    So many non Catholics lining up to attack the Pope from preaching God's word. Has the republican party changed sides? They are all for the ten commandments being in schools and court rooms, but Lord forbid it be preached by the Pope to Catholics. I guess Rush failed to fax his talking points to the Pope, and only got his message to republican politicians. Rush must think Jesus was just a fairy tale about some liberal. The real message Rush wants the people to know is that money makes you King in this world, and ultimate though temporary power on the planet is more important than getting into the gates of eternal heaven. Or, more likely, Rush is an atheist.

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

      Amy, please don't besmirch atheists with such a charge. Only a deeply non-thinking religious person could hold views as narrow and unsupportable as Limbaugh.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  17. kd

    Limbaugh's PT Barnum act has been old for years and years. But he better watch out this time. Pope Francis used to be a bouncer and could really do a number on that cream puff Limbaugh. 🙂

    December 3, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  18. John Walton

    Am kind of confused here. When did the Pope call for nationalization of the assets of corporations, or seizing the assets of the wealthy? If the Pope didn't call for those, how is he a socialist for suggesting that businesses and the wealthy of a duty to the poor?

    December 3, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  19. BADGUY

    So???? Limbaugh preaches Fascism.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  20. MaryM

    At the end of their lives, The Pope will die a happy man knowing he tried to help his fellow humans.
    Rush, on the other hand...............

    December 3, 2013 at 9:58 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.