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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. Joe P

    Do we honestly have 15 million people in this country stupid enough to watch this hate-monger, racist wind bag? Scary & embarrassing.

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

      I am ashamed to admit I am in Missouri since they put this bloviating junkie into the Missouri Hall of Fame ..yup, there apparently is one.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  2. Lemon Talks

    nothing rush limbaugh an entertainer does can compare to the horrors of what the RCC has done

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  3. One one

    I find it curious that CNN has this as the lead story with all the truely serious and relevant things going on in the USA and rest of the world.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  4. Curt Rice

    Rush Limbaugh is still alive? And his opinion is worth?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  5. Tessa2U

    Limbaugh's ratings must be way down so he goes to even greater extremes for shock value and to get his fat face plastered on CNN. Shame on CNN, he is nothing but a narcissistic vitriolic jerk. Of course, Limbaugh would oppose anything to help the other 99% and the world...this is news? I refused to read the article out of principle...the headline alone is making me think CNN is getting played.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  6. SgtRock101

    HERE WE GO ! ! ! Another manufactured phony crisis for the chubby chump to go on and on and on about.Ratings must be down again with the ACA site repaired from the sabotage done to it.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  7. tony

    If Rush would consent to being crucified, he could be become the next son of god.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  8. Lynnard-FL

    So, who do we listen to, boys and girls? The pontiff who cares for "the least, the last and the lost," or a pontificating, evil blowhard? I've made my choice. How about you?

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

      Rush who????????

      December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  9. Malory Archer

    And all the mouthbreathers shout "ditto!!!"

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  10. DaveM

    Let's see, who should I believe? A bloated, pill-popping, mentally disturbed multi-millionaire who couldn't care less for anyone other than himself? Or a humble, pious man of God who wants to help the less fortunate in the world? I would say this was an example of good vs. evil and I hope I don't have to identify who is who...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  11. mike0404

    I wonder how many sponsors he will have after this?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Momof3

      The same businesses he currently has that don't believe that Catholics are christians anyway...

      December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  12. LouieD

    Obviously the drivel that the right spews against CNN about being the "mainstream liberal media" is getting to them. Why else would they make the irrelevant, wrong-headed opinion of a has-been blowhard their lead story in huge type? Nothing else is happening in the world?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  13. Josh

    Does Rush Limbaugh still launder money thru the Vatican Bank?

    Otherwise, why does he object to the Pope "cleaning" it up?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  14. Mona

    Anyone can tell he is out to protect his big FAT WALLET! He can call the Pope all the names he wants, but it is his followers of his religion who will determine if he is Marxist or not.....which by the way, he's not! Limbaugh is a disgrace to the human race.....he should be banished to Elbe.....actually that is too good for him....he should lose his radio station then
    and only then will the people be free from his filth! Pope Francis is a refreshing leader taking all peoples into consideration, not just the rich & famous.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  15. SSSHHHHHHHH.

    Rush is a drug addicted, foolishly Conservative, loud mouth with NO CREDIBILITY…like, seriously dude, YOU? Are more important than the POPE?! We call that egomaniacal delusion. You (and your twisted peers) need to shut the ef up…and go back to your hole.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  16. Richard McMahon

    Conservatives generally believe that they care about their fellow man, but they do not want the Government telling them how to demonstrate and act upon that caring. That is understandable and is often quite sincere, but the Pope is telling us that we cannot completely separate our politics from our beliefs. Rush Limbaugh has failed to give the Pope's viewpoint the respect and consideration that it deserves.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  17. shistone

    Remember Sinead O'Conner?...........got my fingers crossed!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  18. Another Voice

    Gee, when it comes to who I would take moral advice from, will it be the pope, or a 3 time divorced druggie that makes a living deliberately antagonizing people?

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

      These days when I see Rush's big, fat, bloated head I just laugh. I'm an atheist but if Rush doesn't like the Pope than I'm assuming the Pope is a good guy. Does Rush even have any followers anymore?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  19. Lemon Talks

    the catholic church hid gay priest child molestation all the way to the top.

    who would defend this corrupt religion that teaches snakes talked?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  20. Walter

    What Limbaugh needs more than anything else is repentance.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 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.