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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. Adrian Bashford

    The Pope isn't Catholic enough for the Tea Party.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  2. ryanwin

    It sounds like the Pope is preaching forced charity, which is not charity at all. According to LDS theology, that was the plan of Lucifer, who wanted to force everyone and take away their agency, thus saving all of God's children and taking the glory for himself. God's plan was to give everyone the choice to choose between right and wrong, and provide a Savior so they can repent when they make mistakes. Not everyone would choose the right, but that was their free will. It is good to encourage caring for the poor, and to do so emphatically, but to force people is Satanic.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Harry Cline

      Good twist there. You on a special run for 'ole Lucifer are ya ..

      December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Christopher Plourde

      What? So when Jesus told Peter that he should give his cloak 77 times I guess that was satanic as well. And how, exactly, does the Popes missive force anyone to do anything? Go read the New Testament again....sounds like you need to.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • jez

      You are just preaching LDS mythology. Satin. Really?? I can't believe anyone believes this drivel.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  3. Paul Deemer

    If Rush was looking for a good way to get his show cancelled this is it! Insulting the Pope is not gonna score you any points! Disgusting little man! Why anyone listens to him is beyond me.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      bill of rights??

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

      Did Jesus force the rich man to give his possessions to the poor and follow him? No. He gave him the choice. Not once did Jesus force anyone. The Pope is advocating forcing people to give to the poor. That is not Christian.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  4. Wow

    Where Rush is confused is in the basic tenets of Christian teaching.

    The pass fail test of Christ was not how well you served banking interests but if "I was hungry and you fed me" etc.

    The Republican Party is about as far from Christian as can be in virtually every way. Opposing abortion and being judgmental of gays really doesn't make you Christian

    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      have you read Evangelii Gaudium?????

      December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  5. Lauren

    Shh, don't anyone tell Rush how irrelevant he is. The majority of people rejected his ideas when we elected President Obama twice. We need to let fringe elements know that there is no room for their vitriol in our national dialogue. I'm sure the Pope is losing a lot of sleep at night knowing Rush Limbaugh doesn't approve of him.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    What sucks is the previous article "The real-life angels of mercy" as real substance and meaning and then CNN has to post this rubbish drawing all attention away from it. This pope nonsense is just stupid.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  7. Lar 5

    My goodness why doesn't this pathetic excuse for anything human just shut up and disappear. It's time he left the scene. All of his sponsors should be boycotted.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      do you pray to the magick man in the sky?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  8. 462Baby

    Limbaugh your a F$#King IDIOT!! and have not been relevant for....EVER... !!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  9. Arno

    Rush has really done it this time. Finally we get a Pope that starts doing the right thing and this is what he comes up with. Now we know that Rush is a steal from the poor and give to the rich guy. Our modern global economy tells workers that if they are not happy with their pay or working conditions, they will be thrown out of work, their place of employment permanently shut down and the jobs moved to another location where conditions are even worse. This is not about Marxism, it is about exploitation of human beings. The rich have ever increasing power to get more wealth at the expense of the poor and Rush is their champion.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  10. Maranatha

    Personally, we should all try to listen to Jesus rather than either of these flawed, mortal men.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  11. Chris

    “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...."

    And that statement, my friends, tells you everything you need to know about modern Republicans. I guess they only care about religion in politics when it comes to gay marriage, abortion, prayer in schools, creationism v evolution, and contraception.

    What a pathetic joke these idiots are!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      did you read Evangelii Gaudium????

      December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  12. KJ

    Why CNN??? Why give Rush the publicity..........please stop....sigh...

    December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  13. Brian

    What do the Pope and Rush Limbaugh have in common? I don't care what either one of them says.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  14. palintwit

    Whenever I think of trailer parks, I think of Sarah Palin. Whenever I think of Sarah Palin, I think of trailer trash. Whenever I think of trailer trash, I think of tea party patriots. Whenever I think of tea party patriots, I think of nascar. Whenever I think of nascar, I think of assault weapons. Whenever I think of assault weapons, I think of trailer parks. Whenever I think of trailer parks, I think of Sarah Palin. Whenever I think of Sarah Palin, I think of trailer trash. Whenever I think of trailer trash, I think of ....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  15. Bill Smells

    Seems like Rush needed a boost in the ratings.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  16. SixDegrees

    Rush needs ratings.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  17. Me

    Religion is the #1 reason why so many wars have been fought on Earth and millions have died.
    The catholic church has hidden so many many child predators and "forgiven" priests/bishops/cardinals for these horrible evil crimes.
    I dream of a future world where religions are abolished and people are free to believe in what they chose to believe in, while everybody minds their own business.
    The pope should be a modern pope and the first to welcome women into the priesthood, announce that gays and lesbians should have the exact same rights as everybody else, that condoms are not "evil", so on so on...THEN perhaps there would be a mass return to churches world wide. But of course, that won't happen.

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

      Put your name on it then.....If you truly believe this...Don't sign it "me"... (I will pray for you still)

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

        I don't need anyone praying for me. But thanks anyway.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • WWYD-MI

      If everyone had freedom to believe what they believe then you cannot abolish religion. I personally do not believe in organized religions of today, but I do not push others to believe the same way I do.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • The other guy

      Actually money is the number one reason wars have been fought – often using religion as a cover

      December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • steve

      You're lost! You don't go and attend church because you want to feel good. Buy a book or watch a movie. Go eat a chocolate if you want to feel good about yourself. You go to church because you want the fellowship with other believers. You go because you love God. You can't love someone and disagree with who they are. You should know that. You can't love God and hate what He stands for.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Responding to the Pride

      "I dream of a world where religions are abolished and people are free to believe in what they chose to believe in." Classic liberal double-speak.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  18. Robin Cole

    I am Catholic, the Pope is the Word of God on earth. Who does Rush think he is to question the Word of God?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • PHD7

      Simple, Rush thinks he is the God of the GOP.

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

      The pope is a simple human being. He wasn't given superpowers at birth like Superman.
      What does he know of the word of God? If God truly exists, do you honestly think God and
      the Pope have had late night conversations over a cup of tea?
      The Pope is like us, he knows absolutely nothing of what what God truly wants for the human
      race...if there even is a "God".
      God loves ALL his children equally so if the pope truly represented God on Earth, he would let women into the priesthood and let gays and lesbians marry. Doesn't that fall into "equality"?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Since the concept of God is a manmade idea – Rush is blasting someone giving their opinion through a fake character

      December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  19. Nothienuf

    What will it take for Dittoheads to come to the table of rationality?... Oh yeah, ..more pie!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
  20. RANKS66

    Is that Mr Morals, Mr Family Man Rush spouting crap from all holes again........

    December 2, 2013 at 1:03 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.