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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. Richard P.

    Where's Mr. Limbaugh's evidence when he calls the pope a Marxist or when he says that "somebody must've written this for him or gotten to him?" "Must've" isn't evidence. These are careless accusations, the kind that make his listeners feel a little more cozily complacent about their own ignorance and lack of critical thinking skills, leaving the critique of complex issues to this simple, confident-sounding, arrogant man. I do not believe in God as there is no verifiable evidence to support such a belief but I do agree with Pope Francis that trickle down economics "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power." I also do not believe in Marxism, having read a large portion of Marx in the original. The latter assumes far too much about the better nature of humans in the economic lower classes and is therefore also naïve, though not a bad attempt at understanding economic systems, from a nineteenth-century point of view. But I wonder if Mr. Limbaugh has read Marx or how many of his listeners have read a single page of him.

    Mr. Limbaugh says things that people who are unable or unwilling to discriminate between junk thought and evidence-based thought want to hear. "Dittos" and Mega dittos" are a clear sign of a lack of an ability to discriminate, using reason. Mental laziness, in other words. Maybe many of them are too tired after a long day of working for one-hundredth (or less) of what Mr. Limbaugh makes to pick up a real book and learn something and start thinking for themselves. We seem to have outsourced thinking to such men as Mr. Limbaugh.

    I am glad to hear the pope speak up on this issue of economic inequality and the culture of prosperity. But I don't think an appeal to words from such a confusing and inconsistent source as the Bible are sufficient to really convince anybody. I think we, as a species, need to grow beyond such ancient thought systems. We need to move beyond something we just WANT to believe, that we HOPE is true, and do the hard work of studying what really works and what doesn't and then basing our economic systems on that, amending where necessary.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • lol??

      Socies are fond of the tree of Money. Looked at the balance lately??

      December 3, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
      • Michael

        That would be your party, hypocrite.

        December 3, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
        • lol??

          Where's da party tonite??

          December 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
        • lol??

          Got sum dancin' girls like in Vegas??

          December 3, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
        • Michael

          Thank you for distorting everything you read in the attempt to make a coherent point.

          December 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
      • Gloria

        Ted Bundy, a famous psychopath, blamed the twenty girls for their own murder by him by going with him. Your blanket statement of socies is often the way psychopaths think. Psychopaths are known by their narcissist nature in that they often make victims of others for their own self centered interest, they lack remorse for the hardship they cause others, and lack of empathy.

        December 3, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
        • lol??

          Socies like fearless psychopathic leadership. Christians need a boost.

          "fear" AND "not"
          occurs in 144 verses in the KJV, including 63 exact phrases shown first.

          December 3, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  2. Josh

    Isnt worth any attention..mad talk from a well-known mad-man..

    December 3, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  3. Morgan

    We can be sure the "end times" are near when the Radical Right attacks the conservative Catholic Church for being Marxist.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  4. JB

    It will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, then for a rich man to get into heaven. - Jesus

    December 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  5. Thalia

    Rush and Palin plus their unfettered supporters represent the dumbing down of society.
    But sadly many of these so called Christians in the US think by taking Sunday attendence at church it will wash their perpetual sin of love for money and meanspirited social values.
    Good news is God is fully aware of these hypocrites and says they are the 1st be punished.
    So you are #1 Rush and Palin!

    December 3, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I know it's hard to accept, but Rush and Sarah will not suffer after death. They will not go better with Coke. They will not be televised. They will be nil. Just like the very best, the very worst, and all of the rest of us.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  6. Vic

    It is easy to mix up the political term Socialism and the social aspect of things, as well as error/corruption in the application with the concept itself. Capitalism is full of social aspects,which by the way originated in Natural Revelation and Christianity, but it is based on private ownership and not state, hence NOT Socialism.

    In the meantime, I am not discussing politics here, I am discussing mechanisms. Politics can lead right commencements into erroneous finishes if not dead ends.

    Also, Some of what you described is not really about Republicans hating blacks, it is really about Republicans hating the social mechanisms that guarantees poverty for the poor and/or less fortunate, which minorities, in general, fall victims to.

    Furthermore, I am not an expert on the subject but a main problem with Obamacare is that it leaves many people without healthcare (gap) in the states that won't implement it.

    December 3, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Vic

      Oops..sorry about that, that was supposed to be a follow up reply on page 159, yuycks..

      December 3, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  7. Really

    FINALLY! We have Satan (Rush) and Christ (Pope) incarnate, duking it out.

    December 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Gloria

      The war between the fallen Angels and the Angels of God?

      December 3, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  8. Fr33th1nk3r

    Rush and most conservatives won't face the truth– if Jesus was real– he was the first and biggest hippie ever.
    * Wore sandals (Birkenstocks)
    * Walked around the countryside like a hippie/gypsy instead of holding a steady job
    * Hung around with outcasts and "losers".
    * Preached against greed and avarice.
    * Lived off the land and preferred debating about humanity and philosophy (stoner)
    * Showed love and compassion for everybody (although I do think even Jesus would puke if he had to look at Rush Limbaugh for too long)
    * Believed in peace

    December 3, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
  9. John

    Rush fails to remember that Jesus was at least a Socialist, and probably a communist. Why else would Jesus go around healing the sick and not charge for it. Only a communist would take other people's fish and bread and feed it to the masses.

    December 3, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Craig

      What drivel. Jesus didn't "take other people's fish and bread". He simply made the existing fish multiply, a miracle that is the opposite of socialist/communist production practices. And Jesus talked about personal responsibility to take care of the poor, not defaulting to the government. Man, you lefties sure have mush for brains. How much of YOUR money did you give to the poor. That is the only question Jesus would have.

      December 3, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
      • Shine

        About 18% last year Craig. What I had left was 11 times the poverty level. I am indeed ashamed.

        December 3, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Julie

      It interesting that some people think Marxism and socialism are bad things. I think unfortunately some dictators applied socialism in a way that was oppressive, but there are many countries in the world where socialist policies work very well – like Canada for instance. We have universal healthcare in Canada and some would consider that to be a socialist policy, but it works very well in this country and we are still free to do what we want! Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Pope Francis is saying take care of the poor, help the poor, don't be so greedy. What is wrong with that? I guess the truth hurts right Rush?

      December 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
      • lol??

        Canada, like the Swede vikings, relies on the USA for defense. They have plenty of moolah for health care.

        December 3, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  10. AlexvonOrm

    hahah Rush, 15 million red necks. you have the official figure now...

    December 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  11. Daggerstab

    The Pope preaches to others to do good, and then goes out and does it. Rush Limbaugh preaches others to hate, but he's too fat and lazy, so he just asks others to do it instead.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  12. denden

    I am a catholic and some of us already know that He is the false Prophet.see thewarningsecondcoming.com

    December 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Mark

      He isn't a prophet at all. He is the Pope.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
      • Fr33th1nk3r

        Neither– he is just a man wearing stupid looking robe.

        December 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Hilarious for non-believers though– we have the very first Pope who seems more concerned with helping the disadvantaged, the sick, and the poor (you know, the very values the Bible is SUPPOSED to inspire in people?)– and Christians take that as a sign that he is a false prophet of their religion!
      You can always tell a true Christian by their inhospitable manner, callous disregard for the poor, and hatred for those who are different....
      LOL x 1000 for non-believers like myself....

      December 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  13. Tejano

    The reporter is a thrice divorced, admitted drug addict who makes many millions a year bad mouthing everyone including a pope who does his own laundry. Shame on Rush . He needs to repent

    December 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  14. devent

    dogma in religion must shift to scientific notes,Marxist ideology is not necessarily non religious,nothing is above Gods will.everything has a purpose but beyond our comprehension at the present,but everything has a reason and purpose.To unite humanity through a common faith is attainable.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      "Beyond our understanding" is a cop-out for a religion not making any sense whatsoever....

      December 3, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
  15. Joe The Plumber

    Once again lard butt has confused politics with faith – his marism is christianity/s care for the poor.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  16. Jonah

    Rush is just concerned because he's going to burn in hell anyway, for the sins of adultery and divorce, gluttony, pride, etc.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • middle america man

      I certainly can't speak for the almighty but I've been told that even a pig like Rush can be forgiven, which is good since we're all sinners and I would have a hard time forgiving the corpulant swine. I'm thinking that one of the drawbacks of being Rush is that he's doomed to be with himself 24/7, and I'll bet that's painful. Why else did he gethooked on smack?

      December 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  17. 4Truth

    The Pope just sounds ignorant by making statements like that. It shows no understanding of economics or history.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Mark

      Nope. You have a poor understanding of what the Pope said.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Jorge Lara-Faure

      I am not a catholic but I do know that jesuits are by far the best educated and liberals priests within the church. To acuse the Pope of being an ignorant is a bit too much. His criticism of the economy is based on facts that are difficult to denied, Capitalism is a good system compared to others but it should be improved in particular on wealth distribution,that the theory of the "trickle" does not work is something evident.

      December 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • middle america man

      4truth? Ha! Cons have proven that they don't know $&#@ about economics and yet are convinced that they're all freaking John Galt. The Pope is a Jesuit scholar and has three masters degrees, and probably speaks several languages. No con ever has had credentials like that. Just let the grownups talk and go out and play.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  18. evanrb1

    Part of the problem is that most people have never read Karl Marx and/or correctly understand what he wrote. For example, U.S.S.R. style communism has little to do with Marx. The Pope really could have driven home his point had he done a more direct comparison of today's poor with Europe's historical proletariat and today's rich with Europe's historical bourgeoisie. Marx's point was that if a group holds power and actively discriminates against another group to keep them poor, then the poor would eventually revolt against the rich. Marx was basically asking the rich to better treat the poor and work to offer them opportunities for themselves and their children. The American Dream is where anyone can work hard and make a better life for themselves, and most importantly, for their children. But the Dream is under attack. More and more rich families are controlling the message, the courts, and the government to control ever increasing wealth and power to the detriment of a new economy of workers who now have full-time jobs at McDonald's and Wal-Mart. Sure, there are still many examples of those that are poor and become very rich. But more and more, this is the exception and not the real it once was. No one wants to move away from free markets as long as those markets are truly free. In the end, it's not about Marxism. It's about the American Dream.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Mark

      Rush doesn't understand that.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  19. Paul

    I think Rush ought to study the book of Acts; it is not an outline for capitialism.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
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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.