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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. cross eyed mary

    And u care about the Vatican. What an idiot

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  2. Kevin

    shut up, you idiot. shut up!!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Ed Klopfenstein

      No. You have to use caps. Do it like this:

      SHUT UP, YOU IDIOT. SHUT UP!!!!

      See how it provides more emphasis?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  3. ron

    To bad he's off today.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  4. Scott

    The world would be a better place with more people like Pope Francis and less people like Rush Limbaugh.

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

      Well said, Scott.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  5. Davidbiz

    Seriously!!! And this fat (in every sense of the word) greedy ego maniac thinks he has an ounce of Christianity in his body?!!!! What the hell does he think Jesus was preaching? Has he even read a bible?

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

      you pray to magick man in sky?

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

        No...just straight forward human decency!

        December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • CJ

        Lemon Talks, it is not ignorant to believe in God. All the elements and building blocks of life came out of the big bang, and life was formed, that is miraculous beyond anything. That we formed out of complete chaos. Look in the mirror and you have proof of something else, something beyond just randomness. Look into atoms, and beyond atoms and you see mini computers. How did that form out of nothingness without some kind of intelligence to the universe. Even scientists can't figure that out. People like Hawking have to have I believe it's 13 dimensions to justify his string M theory. And they still can't figure out things as simple as gravity. The moon and sun had to be the exact distance from our planet, everything on our earth had to be so precise to have life here. I could go on and on.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  6. FV

    Who cares what Limbaugh says?
    His business is to make prurient and controversial if uninformed statements so people will listen to his radio program so advertisers will buy air time so he can earn a living selling toothpaste and whatnot.
    He has to do this. He hasn't the intelligence to do anything else.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      did you read Evangelii Gaudium????

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

      You're right. Why do they even give him the attention?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Al

      Read your history books to see what happens when all the power and wealth is concentrated into the hands of a greedy few. Pope Francis understands the destabilizing effects of greed. He knows it never ends well.

      Ethiopia was a prime example of what happens when a small group possesses all the wealth and does nothing for the people they rule. It got so bad that the people rose up and installed a Marxist government. Cuba was ruled by a bunch of Capitalist thugs. They were very rich and the people were very poor. Their tyranical leader, Batista was taken out and executed, and Castro took power. Maybe if Batista wasn't so greedy and showed a speck of compassion for his people, he might have lived and long life and died of old age. Would the Bolsheviks have existed if the Czar hoarded all the wealth while his people starved?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • Al

        The last sentence should read: Would the Bolsheviks have existed if the Czar hadn't hoarded all the wealth while his people starved?

        December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  7. John

    I never agree with Rush on anything but he is right about this. The popes always want this country to spread the wealth because they want all people to live in poverty so they, the papacy can control everything and all governments. Don't let his clown nose antics fool you.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • ego_death

      do you really believe that the catholic church wants everyone to live in poverty so they can control everything? really?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Ed Klopfenstein

      He's not right about anything. He's out to create rating and guess what, he did it. The current pope is promoting peace and caring about our fellow man. What a joy to finally see that talk in the Catholic church.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
      • Al

        He sounds like he was influenced by Liberation Theology. Liberation Theology stands with the poor and disposed, not the rich and powerful. Greedy Capitalist would call it Marxist.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Davidbiz

      The "old" Catholic church, absolutely wanted to remain in control and amassed a huge fortune...which they still have. They are after all, one of the biggest land owners in the world...BUT, that is precisely what this Pope has an issue with. That's why he's shunning all the wealth of the church, choosing to live in a humble room instead of the Palatial Palace. Why he's driving around in a beat up Renault instead of the Limousine. He's putting his money where his mouth is. Unless you just want a very few exclusive people (say....1%,) to own everything. Then you have a similar situation to....oh, I don't know...Communist regimes, where the Politburo types drive around in Limousines, live in huge houses, never go hungry and manipulate the system?...WAIT! What's the difference between that result and Capitalism again?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  8. Ed Klopfenstein

    I guess Rush Limbaugh is getting coal this year for Christmas - and eternal damnation.

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

    I assume Rush Limbaugh is not a Christian, because if he thinks the Pope is a Marxist, wait until he reads up this guy named Jesus! Jesus didn't just say give to the poor, he said the rich and the poor should trade places!

    The Pope is not a Marxist at all. He just doesn't think the richest 1% owning everything is a desirable arrangement while there are billions barely scraping by.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      you know nothing of jesus

      December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • Ed Klopfenstein

        You know nothing of jesus.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
      • Al

        He was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, and died a Jew, he was never a Christian.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Davidbiz

      Love it!

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

        And you two have had a private audience with him...?

        December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
        • Davidbiz

          Sorry Ed...I see you're post should have read..." YOU know nothing of Jesus!"

          December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  10. palintwit

    Bristol Palin's next novel should be hitting bookstore shelves soon. Her recent memoirs about her life as a drunk, pregnant teenager sold an astounding 1,500 copies and buoyed by this success she has worked very hard to write the sequel. Her adoring public expects no less because after all, those Palins are not quitters.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  11. Blackcurry

    The Pope is preaching Christianity as Jesus taught it. Doesn't surprise me that Rush doesn't recognize it when he sees it. He is a sad, pitiful little man who wants to be important.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  12. ron

    Rush is really making a fool of himself!! It's enjoyable to listen to his crazy thought. LOL

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  13. Matt

    "A person's beliefs are different from my own, so that person is obviously an idiot and against everything right in the world." This thinking makes me want to drive my head into a wall, repeatedly.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  14. Paul L

    Did Jesus preach pure Marxism? Rush, please let us know. Jesus was emphatic about wealth and poverty and humanity, on several occasions. This is what the Pope is touching upon. So Rush, please clarify. Did Jesus have a time machine in which he contacted Karl Marx?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      no jesus did not preach marxism. did you read Evangelii Gaudium?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  15. HenryMiller

    "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

    The Catholic Church has, for many centuries, opposed the exercise of any power other than its own and has always demanded "a crude and naïve trust in the goodness" of the Catholic Church.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  16. IpseCogita

    So, is it now a sin to work hard and make a good living?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • nathanmentley

      Ehh. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe working hard to become wealthy was always an easy way to be sinful.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • DJL

      No, it's a sin to be greedy and horde all the wealth. And, yes, you can be successful without being greedy.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Matt

      Don't build a strawman argument out of this.

      1) Your statement is based off the assumption that the poor do not work hard, which is, frankly, a patronizing idea. People work hard all the time and don't make big money. We love to think that what we did as individuals is why we are where we are in life. The truth is that everyone in that well-off position had more than a couple of events fall their way and things could have easily taken a turn in the other direction.

      2) It isn't saying anything about working hard and being successful. It is saying that the pope believes "trickle down economics" doesn't work with closing the income gap or helping the poor. When looking at much of the evidence so far, this doesn't seem too far off base. You are allowed to work hard and make your money (I do), but you shouldn't live under the illusion you are helping the poor out while doing it.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
      • loveroftheworld

        I totally agree with you, Matt! There are too many people out there busting their chops for minimum wage. There are too many people, who went to college to make a better living, who are receiving lesser pay than their counterparts just because of their gender or the color of their skin. There are too many families out there that are going hungry because they need to chose between food and heat. I say, let's reevaluate the way that people "reach the top" and stop giving them benefits for their sins.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Davidbiz

      No, of course not. But SHARING is also a good way to go, for humanity. And I don't mean hand-outs...just help to those who need it. Successful people aren't the only ones who work hard. Working hard is not a guarantee of wealth. I met a woman yesterday who had been in a great job. A single mother, working day and night to support her child. She was laid off her job and was extremely embarrassed to ask me for money. I didn't have cash but asked her if she needed food. She blushed and said she actually needed some feminine products and had just hit rock bottom! These a the very people the Pope is talking about.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  17. Will4203

    Rush Limbaugh is not fit to judge anyone or anything or any subject in a any category. What Rush promotes is nothing less than blatant, vulgar Nazi inventions. In fact, the GOP/Tea Party/Right Wing spews the exact kind of propaganda spewed by the Nazis during the 1930's and WWII....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      have you read Evangelii Gaudium???

      December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
      • Ed Klopfenstein

        Have you another thing to say?

        December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • Will4203

        Have you read about Nazi propaganda and about their persecution, torture and mass killing of Jews??? Have you read about "Anchluss" and "Rollkomandos"...???

        December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
        • Al

          "Constantine's Sword" is a good history of the Church's persecution of the Jews. With Francis there is hope he will turn the church away from the bad old days.

          December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
      • Al

        The poor will read it and think they should open their hearts, the rich will laugh and push for more cuts to food stamps and services for the homeless.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • MERC

      i AGREE WITH YOU 100 PERCENT

      December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  18. Whodatdat

    I DONT KNOW WHY I'M YELLING! BUT UR READING IT!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  19. cribbooky

    The neat trick that the Vatican does is preaching charity while being the number one possessor of gold and real estate in the world.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • John

      You are so right about that.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • Davidbiz

        You're totally right about that and it's one of the reasons I left the Catholic church. But, I truly believe this Pope is starting to put his money where his mouth is. he's shunning everything the "Old" church believed in...power, money, ruling by fear! I see a shift with the Pope's refusal to live in the palatial palace, drive around in a limousine...etc.. I think he should be encouraged to keep going in that direction...

        December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  20. Shills

    I think that Limbaugh finally opened up his big fat mouth too big this time. What a crock of garbage.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:01 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.