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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. Scott

    Rush must be back on the drugs. Hate to tell you this Rush, Christianity is socialist! Help your neighbor, feed the poor, heal the sick, take care of children, be fair, be honest, pay your taxes, whole lot of Socialist guidelines thanks to Jesus and the Old Testiment. Not the Fox revisionist teachings that say screw the poor, abandon the children, don't help anyone but yourself, sink or swim, die because you don't have health care.

    So yes the Pope is a Socialist. What would Jesus say, probably about time!

    December 13, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Geo Bruno

      RL is a Pharisee

      December 15, 2013 at 10:47 am |
  2. Vic

    Ladies and gentlemen, the following story is a prime example of Capitalism vs. Socialism, let alone making a difference. The "$100 handout" represents Socialism while the "offer to code program for computers opportunity" represents Capitalism.

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/the-men-behind-trees-for-cars-app-tell-their-story-170333561.html

    That story is reminiscent of Ted Williams', the homeless man with a golden voice who was asked to audition and filmed on the spot by a good Samaritan in Columbus, Ohio.

    God bless America, the Land Of Opportunity and God's Country.

    December 13, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  3. Bob Ramos

    Limbaugh is not fit to even kiss Pope Francis shoes.

    December 13, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Raging Dragon

      I know. Thank God the drug addict sounded off on this. I wasn't sure what to think.

      December 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  4. Lorraine

    I have always compared the actions of the pope with the acts of the man whom they profess to venerate, Jesus. And certain acts of the current pope are, in my opinion, very Christ-like. However, while Jesus did make it clear that the righteous were to care for the poor, he also stayed out of politics and economics. He said "my kingdom is not of this earth," and he also said "render unto Caesar that which is Caesars." But the verses that have me convinced that the Pope should not concern himself with economic systems are found in Luke 12:13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” It would be well if the current Pope would restrict his actions to the promotion of the gospel.

    December 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • neved

      2000 years ago not a single electronic appliance exist,their concept of what is divine and what is human is synonimous to a King and subject.Todays democratically liberated mind of the modern people was not as passive,theres no comparison.

      December 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • Walter Johnson

        Neved, please wake up. We have technology and material goods yes, but we also have 2000 years more of sin, of living on a planet deceived and controlled, as far as God will permit, by Satanic, demonic forces. We have 2000 more years of being lead into following pagan spiritual deceptions. Our hearts are harder and more wicked than our deceived minds could even imagine, if we were inclined to search them, which we are not. We delude ourselves into thinking that the blessings which God has provided for us are somehow things that we have accomplished on our own without Him. That's why our arrogance and greed lead us to believe that we are more than we are, and why our unwarranted pride is going to bring about our terrible destruction. We are a such an ungrateful pitifully lost race.

        December 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
        • neved

          Walter,all evidence in history points to progress as the key to our survival,God gave us the consciousness and intelligence to evolve our consciousnes to conform with reality.Reality is the some total of our intelectual,phsycologial ,scientific developement,with it as history had shown also religious evolution.From animism thousands of years ago when our ancesrors worshiped hundreds of Gods ,to the times of the Greeks and Romans with reduced Gods to twelve,or polytheism, tthen when the Jews,Christians and Muslim arrived it is reduced to one Monotheism.these existence for each era lasted thousnds of years.the common dogma was God is king and humans are subjectst.that was at height of still until today unliberated faith.With democratization of knowledge there will be change aided by advanced science and technology when all will become netizens of the world,then we will have an evolved unified religion inspired by scientific theologies

          December 13, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • devent

          my interpretation of the liberated religion is still monotheism,but pushed backward beyond the big bang 13.7 billon years ago when God the Father decided to manifest himself into reality.The evolutionary process now dawned into human consciousness as he willed and become what we are now centered on Christianity.the evolution of other religions is just part of the dialectical process which is innate in reality.The ongoing research in CERN Switzerland and the forum called for the dialogue of scientists(atheists) ,philosopers and theologians to find synthesis or common ground for this is already ongoing.and all of this is guided by Him.

          December 13, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • Walter Johnson

          To Neved and Devent for your evolutionary comments. In Mark 10:6, referring to Adam and Eve, Jesus said, "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." Jesus states in Mat 24:37-39, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, “and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."
          We serve, or choose not to serve, a living God that our finite fallen minds cannot even begin to comprehend. Though our pride leads us to believe we are something we are not, and something better, and greater, than we are. Read that as Satan saying in Gen 3:4-5 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
          So we are no better or smarter now, with God's gift to us of technology, than the ancients of our race, created instantaneously by the hand of our Creator God, and the proof is that we still believe the original lies of Satan, today.

          December 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
        • Walter Johnson

          To Neved & Devent continued...
          Yes our Creator is a loving God, but also a God that will allow us to exercise the free will to choose that He has given us. Our choice brings about our reward, Ex 34:7 ... “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty,... (By no means clearing the guilty?). Jesus taught and believes the whole creation narrative described in the bible. Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—. No evolution through billions of years in the bible.
          Paul states, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Gal 1:9 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. Yes we are free to believe in evolution, or God's word, the bible, but we can't believe both, they are mutually exclusive. Death through billions of years, the universe expanding from a big bang from nothing, (really?), all the cosmos from the head of a pin? Or death through sin?

          December 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Walter Johnson

      Amen, such wisdom, taken from the scriptures. I'm reminded of Jesus' words; (Luke 7:9) When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” Likewise for this wisdom.
      May we be ever watchful against the abuse of power that always occurs when the separation of church and state is abrogated.

      December 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • amk11bpg

      Yet conservative's claim it is not Christian to help those in need . Saying that the hungry should get their own food and the unemployed have no right to eat. I guess the verse how you treat the least of you is how you treat me . I was hungry you gave me nothing to eat, I was homeless you gave me no shelter, I was in prison you did not visit. Or John 13:34 a new commandment I give to you love one another as I have loved you do this an all men will see that you are my disciples by the love you show one another.

      December 13, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • kas

      We have a tendency to pull little pieces of the scripture out to back up personal agendas, but that was not how the message was written or intended. Perhaps we should remember that the Pope does not rely on select verses from the Bible; he takes the Word as a whole and understands that Christ's message was one of mercy and caring. As Americans, we are sensitized to any dicussion because we know our current form of Capitalim is not just, not merciful. Pope Francis doesn't even mention the US specifically in his writing, yet we know he is talking about us since our societal structure is so unbalanced, excessive and egocentric.

      If you haven't, I would encourage you to go to the Vatican website and read "Evangelii Gaudium". It is a message that challenges us all to think and act in a different way.

      December 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
      • Walter Johnson

        Funny how much we think we know, and how much deception this world is filled with. The Pope doesn't "take the Word as a whole", but he puts the churches traditions above the "Word" of God. Really, check out what the Roman Catholic Church says, and has been saying for the better part of 2000 years. The church, read Popes, clearly state that there is no scriptural evidence to support the change of God's Holy Day from the Seventh day of the week to the pagan day of worship the first day of the week, Sunday. The Catholic church claims that by their changing the day of worship from the Seventh to the First day it is their ecclesiastical mark of authority, and shows the power the church has to place their tradition above the bible.
        Then again we are still so unaware of just how blessed we are to have the government that we do have. Maybe not blessed with the people to run it that we would like. Look back through history and see what has taken place under the unfettered influence and power of the Roman church when people mistakenly thought her religious authority was from God. If you think the government you are under now is bad, and are thinking foolishly that being under the yoke of an unfettered Papacy would be better, please go back and study history, for if we don't understand the terrible mistakes we have made in the past, as the human race, we will repeat them again. Our capitalistic government or the one you seem to be dreaming about? Don't give it a second thought, keep what's left of what you have.

        December 18, 2013 at 1:52 am |
        • kas

          You say that the Catholic church puts "their tradition above the bible", but remember that it is the Catholic church that is responsible for putting together the chosen books of the bible as we know it today. So in fact, the Bible is simply a part of our tradition. But only part. The church recognizes that the bible is not historic truth, but is an inspired truth. Genesis is a book of fables that teaches "truths" about humanity. Armed with this knowledege, who cares if the day of worship is changed from one day to another? The point is that we need to set aside time to worship. The church is a living organism, with a belief that we continue to be moved and changed by the Holy Spirit. And yet it is composed of human beings, with all of our imperfections, and therefore is going to be imperfect and in need of constant renewal. I'm thankful for the thoughtfulness that Pope Benedict brought, and the renewal that Pope Francis brings.
          And then I am confused by your comment that we are blessed by the government that we have, but not blessed by the people who run it. If we have a democracy, then the people ARE the government. And here is is where the true misconceptions occur: capitalism is an economic system,not our system of government.
          Do I think our government system is bad? No, I think democracy is absolutely the way to go when we keep corporate money out of the mix.
          Do I think our economic system is poor? Absolutely. Unchecked capitalism has glamorized greed.

          December 18, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
      • Walter Johnson

        Reply to Kas...
        First of all none of the books in the bible were written by Roman Catholics. All the books in the bible were written before 100AD, before there was a Roman Catholic church. All were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God is ultimately responsible for the books being put together to form the bible as a whole, and He has finally eliminated all the errors by trimming the bible down to 66 books. Yes God eliminated the Apocrypha, and it's errors. God inspired and put the bible together over thousands of years not the Catholic church, or it's traditions.
        If, "The church recognizes that the bible is not historic truth," as you say Kas, then the church is calling Jesus Christ a liar, because He, being God, states that Adam and Eve where formed by God from the dust of the earth. Jesus states that the flood took place, literaly, and He plainly states that the bible is truth, John 17:17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." So then by the churches own admission they have shown their apostasy from God by calling His book, and His Son liars.

        December 19, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • Ed

          The Catholic Church established the canon of Scripture at regional councils in Rome in AD 382, Hippo in 393 and Carthage in 397. Before the Church's declaration there was no agreed-upon canon. Pope Damasus' commissioning of the Latin Vulgate c.383 established the canon in the West. Protestants accept the New Testament canon established by the Catholic Church, but the Reformers rejected the Old Testament canon. Martin Luther also wanted to reject Hebrews,James, Esther and Revelation. The Church established that Sacred Scripture is inspired and divinely revealed.

          December 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
        • kas

          I don't think that I implied that Catholics wrote the Bible. I stated that the books were put together by the church, and don't think we have any idea of who the real authors were.
          "Truth" with regards to morals and values are absolute and accurate in the Bible. However, it was not meant to be a historical or scientific account of the world, and it is dangerous when we take it in that light. Jesus came as the "Word", meaning that he embodied everything right and good and is the perfect example for living a holy life. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" John 1:14 Knowng that the translation for "Adam and Eve" is imperfect, and really refers to "mankind" or "humanity", I think Jesus' statement that we were made from dust of the earth makes perfect sense, even in the context of evolution. All divinely inspired.

          December 20, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
        • Walter Johnson

          Kas, it is apparent that you don't know what calling someone a liar really is, nor the consequences that proceed from that action. Jesus states that, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”(Jhn 8:56) Jesus also said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, “and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be."(Mat 24:37-9) Of these events which take place in Genesis, the book of which you claim is a book of fables, Jesus says that both Abraham, and Noah and the flood, are people and events that took place, by the grace of God, on this planet, exactly the same way as by His grace you are breathing air today.

          December 21, 2013 at 12:50 am |
        • Walter Johnson

          Ed, God can work through every part of His creation, both good and bad, to bring about the fulfillment of His plans. God worked through the Babylonians to chasten an apostate Israelite nation in the time of Jeremiah, and Daniel. Had the Israelites not been worshiping pagan gods, demonic spirits, God would have been able to protect them from Babylon, but because they had to the larger extent rejected God, He abided by their decisions and the nation reaped what it sowed. Was Babylon God's chosen people? No. In ancient times nations believed that their gods were giving them victory or defeat, Babylon it's self felt the sting of God's judgments when her cup of iniquity was filled up, and they were conquered by the Medo-Persians in one night.
          That God could also work, in some part, to bring about His bible as He wants it, through the Roman Catholic Church, should be no reason for self exaltation by the RCC. God always wants to bring clearer light into our hearts and minds, but we to often reject it. Our sinful hearts only want to exalt ourselves and "do our works" to achieve salvation, something a sinner can never do.
          Yes Martin Luther at first questioned some books, but came to embrace the book, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ." Jesus, as our High Priest, and His ministrations on mankind's behalf in the heavenly sanctuary since His accession were lost track of because the RCC has claimed His work as their work, and hidden Jesus from the people. That is why, at this time that we need a new revelation of our Savior and Lord Jesus, and His continuing ministry on our behalf. Jesus cleanses us from our sins, as the bible clearly states, no man can ever perform such an act.

          December 21, 2013 at 1:44 am |
  5. Mercury

    What is obliviously projected as the "War on Christmas" is actually Christians fighting desperately for the continued "right" to force their beliefs, traditions, and whole way of life on others. Any Christian will tell you that Jesus, Himself, has authorized them to treat the adherents of any other faith with abject contempt.

    December 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  6. Peacemaker

    Limbaugh is not a Christian, so how would he know what JESUS taught?! He doesn't.

    December 11, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  7. six1forecords

    Reblogged this on six1forecords.

    December 10, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  8. neved

    to us only protestant faith is right because it will make me filthy rich

    December 9, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Walter Johnson

      The Roman church claims to be the "Mother" church and that the Protestant churches are her daughters. Why does the Catholic church make this claim? Because "She" says that the Protestant churches broke away from the Catholic church, and because most Protestant churches worship on the first day of the week, Sunday, which day Rome claims as the mark of Her ecclesiastical authority, having transferred the solemnity from God's, and the Bibles, Holy day, the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. So then Roman Catholicism actually claims Authority over all Christian churches that worship on Sunday, Rome's day. By all that is going on in the Protestant churches today it appears most are rejoining the Roman church for they are working hard here and around the world to make Sunday a state, read government, legislated day of rest, universally accepted around the world.

      So Neved when you say the Protestant churches are the only ones right because they are making their people filthy rich, do you see that they are only doing what their Mother is teaching them?

      December 10, 2013 at 3:43 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.