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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. Sunnysmom

    Rush, please just go take some more Oxy or whatever is floating that fat head of yours these days. Nobody cares what you think.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Michael

      Limbaugh says the Pope is a Marxist. So was Jesus.

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

    Rush is the Lord.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Momof3

      Correcting your typo:

      Rush is the LARD.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  3. Colleen Meegan

    I can only conclude that Mr Limbaugh knows neither Marxism nor what Jesus Christ taught. He is simply incorrect, nothing more. No emotional reaction to him being wrong. He made a fool of himself in front of millions. Mr Limbaugh, are you proud of yourself? You might (if you can) do some research on both Marxism & Christianity. What Christ taught us is not what you practice at all.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  4. Sensible Joe

    No, Mr. Limbaugh. Pope Francis is preaching the same thing Jesus Christ preached. If you ever took time to read the gospels, you'll find that the teachings and values of Jesus Christ are a far cry from and at great odds with the message you preach.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  5. Agaur

    Just keep talking Rush, you smarmy deceitful blowhard, pretty soon you'll be down to peddling Gold Bond foot powder to your buddies around a pickle barrel in some isolated hamlet the freeway missed.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  6. Big_D

    A Fat Satan incarnate doesn't like the pope? Go fig!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  7. sophion

    the pope need not worry
    catholics idolize mary more than they idolize money.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  8. Joe The Plumber

    Another Rush attempt to win the catholic vote.

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

      Its sad that a minuscule american personality, has the platform through CNN, to make outrageous and defamatory claims about the leader of the catholic church, The pope is the spiritual leader of billions, Limbaugh is an un-important shock jock, who will be quickly forgotten within five years of his death, a tiny footnote in american history, how exactly does he rate having this forum? its baffling to me.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  9. Gatorfan

    Rush is doing what he does best. He makes inflammatory remarks and gets people discussing him.

    Does anyone take this clown seriously?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • tet1953

      Unfortunately, many do. To some, everything he puts out there is gospel truth.

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

      you should!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  10. tet1953

    Oooh..careful, Rush. I don't think Francis is a guy you want to get on the wrong side of. Just sayin'

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  11. Kelly

    funny, coming from someone who was previously addicted to painkillers.

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

      Still trying to figure out how the two are related.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        While he was a drug addict he was advocating heavy penalties for drug users. The pope is trying to take christianity back to its more humble origins where helping the poor was a basic tenet and Limbaugh resists that. All smacks of hypocrisy.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
        • chieftrainer

          If Kelly replied that way, I can then understand what was meant. However, Kelly hasn't yet explained the connection.

          December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  12. Dan

    Thank goodness I've taken enough painkillers; the rining in my ears

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  13. Millie Bea

    The Pope would probably beg everyone to forgive because one must have extra compassion for the mentally incapacitated.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  14. Big_D

    That's it, either Limbaugh or the Pope. Make your choice on who you really follow right wingers.

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

      Neither. I follow Jesus.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
      • Big_D

        8 lb baby Jesus or older Elvis style Jesus? Or do you practice Judaism like the real Jesus?

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

          If Jesus practiced the "real" Judaism, why did the Jews have him crucified?

          December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          chief, Wasn't it god's plan?

          December 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
        • chieftrainer

          Santa – what plan are you talking about? That Jesus should practice "real" Judaism or him being crucified? Or some other plan?

          December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  15. Rev. Rick

    Mr. Limbaugh, might I suggest – never miss a good chance to shut the He11 up.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  16. EX Catholic

    Well well, but can we expect? The guy is from Argentina, a country that for the most part of it's history has been dominated by Fascists. That hosted many NAZIS after WW2 and that until recent history, photos of Adolf Hitler were found in the barracks of the Army. Communism, Marxism and socialism are staples in the politics there still, but then again; who is Rush Limbaugh? Oh, I know an American radical Nationalist! 😉 so... then; what have we here? Well I would say this is inside quarrel between 2 beast in the jungle. Or 2 guys in the same little row boat in the swamp of the jungle, just rowing in opposite directions, struggling to be one to lead the little row boat somewhere. 😀 😀

    December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  17. sonny chapman

    I BUILT THIS !!! Doesn't that go contrary to giving thanks to a Creator who bestowed good health, good parents, a fighting spirit, a good birth country upon those who do achieve material wealth in their lives ?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Those who do achieve material wealth in their lives do not necessarily have good health, good parents, a fighting spirit, a good birth country. There is no evidence of a creator or that those attributes are bestowed by a god.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  18. krasny

    Anybody familiar with liberation theology would realize Limbaugh's accusation isn't so far off.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  19. PJ

    That big fat face with the open mouth portrays him perfectly. He should be ignored.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  20. mike

    Didn't know rush was an expert on Papal matters

    December 2, 2013 at 12:52 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.