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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. TonyInNYC

    When Rush Limbaugh says "It's sad how wrong Pope Francis is," what he is really saying is "I can't stand the thought that Pope Francis might have more followers than me."

    December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  2. ADK

    RUSH is RIGHT...

    THIS WOULD NOT BE THE FIRST TIME, with all respect, THAT THE POPE AND THE CATHOLIC CLERGY has UNKNOWINGLY PROMOTED COMMUNISM...

    The CONFUSION between the VIRTUE OF GIVING versus EXTORTION AND PUNITIVE REDISTRIBUTION by GOVERNMENT is a recurring conflict in Christian Theology.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  3. elvis costanza

    Is there no subject in which this blowhard does not (a) consider himself an expert and (b) see a leftist plot behind it?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Marta

      I completely agree with you. No wonder the world is turned upside down. I support the Pope, he is finally coming to terms with the role religion plays in people's lives. He should be quiet, and talk about other more important issues, like starving children around the world, war...don't waste our time with comments that only shows how ignorance can harm.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • ted pierce

      I too was surprised at what the Pope said given how well the church has done under communist and socialist regimes.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • AnR

      I don't think Rush believes half the stuff he actually says, it's just his shtick. His job is to be a right-wing blowhard. He gets paid to say incendiary things.He's just a college dropout that became a Top 40 music DJ, originally broadcasting under the name of Jeff Christie, that found he could make some serious money spouting crap. Frankly, it's easier to spout right-wing crap because you don't need to be as educated to do it.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  4. kevin in va

    And rush is an idiot.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Selfie Thinker

      .. move on Einstein. Get your latte and go back to your drive thru window

      December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
      • Steve

        Fascinating discussion point.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  5. religious & dumb

    He is the last Pope because he tells the truth about religious scams.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  6. bskeltonaz

    Limbaugh is a washed-up has been trying desperately to hang on to his glory days. He's a pill-popping pig that provides no value to mankind. Well maybe to the Democrats who will have their hands full in 2016. But with idiots like Limpdick and others spewing their trash the Republicans must me crapping in their boots.................

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  7. M. Amos

    generaly speaking and in my own opion of course it's people that have money such as Rush that make statements like that-and on another point , as for people who have money – at least as of late can't be as trusted as they once were – usually proveing themselves time and again

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  8. allenwoll

    I am surprised that Rushie can even SPELL "Marxism" ! !

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  9. keven

    Leave it to Limbag to take concerns about the poor and sick and twist it into some political , ideological BS.
    He's been into his maids pain killers again....
    What a poor excuse for a human being

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  10. tedfred

    the pope quotes "warned that the "idolatry of money" would lead to a "new tyranny." Limbaugh must argue that it's important that there is an upper class, then a lower class & Rush is clearly the defender of keeping this system

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  11. NickAnast

    If you actually bothered to read the Gospels, you would discover that every time there is a conflict between rich and poor, Jesus sides with the poor. Every time. Quick: Rich man. Camel. Eye of a needle. Discuss. Better yet: Luke 6:24, "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation."

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • bobE

      I am not a religious person, but I couldn't have said it better, Nick. Thanks.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  12. JW

    Rush being attacked by leftist is always a leading indicator that he is right!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • tatanka

      Wow. And you guys call Obama the "messiah?"

      December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  13. Selfie Thinker

    .. the ones here complaining about Rush and Capitalism, are the same ones that are begging for handouts from Government. They have no job, and don't want anyone else to have one either?

    Shut up and go to work. Poor is one thing, demanding handouts is another. And I for one, am sick of you people expecting the world to give you anything that you don't have yet want. Jesus was pro-work, you can be too , just get off your lazy ass. And if you're too broke to hire 300 people, thank the companies that can! Bunch of freakin Einsteins on CNN.. Good God.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Leo

      I have a job and lead a pretty decent life that is fairly comfortable. And Rush is the worst. Along with this awful statement here. Which really only says something about you. You are why America fails, congrats.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Person

      It must be easy for you, relying on stereotypes rather than real facts or people. When your imagination says liberals are acting badly, so don't have to pay attention to what's actually going on. The trouble is, Rush really is a blowhard and folks on both the right and left are tired of his falsehoods.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • bobE

      Hey, you have a good point here. Selfie. Let's get everyone that's out of work working again for minimum wage. Yeah, that's the ticket, keep 'em working, but sure as hell keep 'em poor. Take a look in the mirror "Selfie" and you'll quickly see why the human ego is the problem.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I think the pope has a job.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • CJ

      First off, you don't get free help in the US by choosing to not work, that's BS propaganda. The majority of people getting help in the US are mothers with children, Veterans, elderly, people that have lost their jobs and working poor, etc. People with sick loved ones who have lost everything, etc. The propaganda that is put out there by Fox, etc., that majority of people getting help just are lazy is just is sickening to the soul, and is an ignorant lie.

      December 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Unspin

    Oh my goodness, a Right Wing guy doesn't agree with something the Catholic Church is saying. What a surprise. Keep spreading the hate, CNN.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Selfie Thinker

      Great point! You saw that too! Cnn is the most anti-American "news" outlet in the World. Other than ESPN's new Al Jizera outlet..

      December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  15. Matt

    All religions are cults that harbor terrorists. Relgions are fake and for the weak.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Dallas D

    Who cares what this (prescription so that makes it okay) drug addict thinks? The right is always saying how charities and the church should help the poor, not the government. Now that the church is advocating for caring for the poor as a focus of their efforts Rush wants to attack that as well. Why not just pass a law that states you can't be poor and if you are we'll send you somewhere else?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  17. Joe The Plumber

    Another person we are suppose to hate according to this political entertainer.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  18. Jimbo Coles

    Rush is just mad that the Catholic Church frowns upon his practice of marrying a new "beard" every few years and their stance on vacations to Thailand for man boy love.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  19. ellamvaram

    I think, and I do so with much thought, that Rush Limbaugh must be banished to some lonely island, sooner than later. He seems to be a menace in a land that is more civilized than he is. When he does not respect a person (I mean, a human), he equals himself to God, for God is no respecter of persons (Act 10:34). When anyone makes a claim so outrageous as this, he doesn't belong among the living. He's good as dead. I am sorry that I have to say this. And when the Republican Party gives him so much credence, I wonder where they stand in the whole spectrum!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  20. myrtlemaylee

    Groucho, Chico or Harpo? Limbaugh is "sadly" confusing Marx with Jesus, ironically to generate revenue.

    Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Even on Conservative talk radio.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
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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.