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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. Ricky Gibson

    Well, there we have it in a nutshell.

    Rush Limbaugh is a better example of a moral human being than Pope Francis.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Maddy

      That was tongue in cheek, I hope.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  2. ThomasR

    Pope,
    Please tell us where on earth this unfettered Capitalism is located so we can move there.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • mickey1313

      Unfortunatly he confused capitalism with coorporatism, which is what the west has, and it is more evil than the most extreme socislism. Through Ann ryand philosphy is distroying this world.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  3. Bob Bobson

    Jesus Was A Socialist

    How can we see God while despising the needy among us? Scripture declares that it is impossible. “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). Spiritual blindness is the inevitable consequence of hating the poor. – See more at: http://www.redletterchristians.org/hating-poor-loving-jesus/#sthash.ZOwgiLmI.dpuf

    December 3, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      blah blah blah... The highest form of ignorance... is one dumbass Christian telling another dumbass Christian that they are not really Christian... because (insert whatever dumbass thing they believe differentiates them from each other)…

      December 3, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • ME II

      Doesn't it also say somewhere, "Those who do not work, do not eat."?

      Hard to follow such a two-sided docu.ment.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  4. Michael

    Limbaugh preaching pure hate...

    December 3, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • gee

      He has no brains left – cooked by dope.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  5. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Really? I can't believe we're still talking about Rush Douchebag. Isn't there some other conservative tea-bagger idiot we can talk about today?

    December 3, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  6. Bob Bobson

    Jesus Was A Socialist

    Luke 12:16-21 Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."

    December 3, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Bob Bobson : Jesus Was A Socialist ... So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."

      You've confused socialism with a good heart to those less fortunate. Socialism comes through government control, while a giving heart comes from within.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  7. John

    Rush Limbough and Fox News are a cancer that polarizes this country with their right wing rhetoric. Trying to help the less fortunate is not Marxist. Its compassion. If you have to get a drug screen to qualify for food stamps maybe you need a drug screen to host a hate filled radio show.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • JW

      Rush and Fox news provide balance for almost every other media outlet, but you obviously wouldn't want to have opposing views available. With the likes of Matthews, Maddow, Shultz, etc., shouldn't MSNBC's moniker be "Lean Left" instead of "Lean Forward".

      December 3, 2013 at 11:16 am |
      • Ryan Thorpe

        Left = Forward.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  8. jboh

    Just more oxycodone pickled brain flatulence from a loud-mouthed, drug smuggler. Only fools care what this clown says.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Hence why he is so popular with the Tea Party

      December 3, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  9. Journey

    A sad, angry critique by the GOP. What is with all the Catholic bashing coming out of that party lately? First Palin and now this. If you all need the "catholic vote" to actually start winning elections again slamming the Pope is not a good place to start. Just lost the Latino vote. Just lost swing catholic voters. What a defeated joke of a party. Nothing but a bunch of evangelical coke heads like Bush, Palin, Limbaugh, etc. These people are lost.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  10. Greg Charles

    Limbaugh, king of the fat stupid white men.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  11. Bob Bobson

    Jesus Was A Socialist

    Luke 16:19-25 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

    In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  12. clevercandi

    Dear Mr. Limbaugh,

    If memory serves, you promised to leave the country if Mr. Obama was re-elected.

    We're still waiting to say, "Goodbye".

    December 3, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Alex Disner

      I will happily pay his ticket.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  13. Bob Bobson

    Jesus Was A Socialist

    Luke 14:12-14 He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

    December 3, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  14. Bob Bobson

    Jesus Was A Socialist

    Mark 10:21-22 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  15. Bob Bobson

    Jesus Was a Socialist

    Matthew 25:34-36 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."

    December 3, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  16. jimbojonesiv

    But isn't the Pope pretty much God on earth, or at least his voice, not to mention infallible? So then the hypocrite has just said that God is a Marxist! No surprise here, it was people like Limbalk and the modern Repulicks that killed Christ.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:56 am |
  17. samb1

    Not all conservatives are hate filled ideologues, but all hate filled ideologues are conservative!

    December 3, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • mickey1313

      There are radical hate filled leftists also, but right wing zealots far out numbet them

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

        Can you name who on the left? Because I want to use some in arguments, but can never name any.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  18. Bob Bobson

    The single accomplishment of the conservative movement in this country has been convincing millions of weak minded individuals that greed, selfishness, and hatred for the poor are good, "Christian" values.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:50 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.