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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. Shelly

    We want the pope preaching this. We need the church to take care of the community, to not discriminate, to love as Jesus would, to not be run by money or big business. The church has gone away from this and now people expect the government to take care of the weak, homeless, and helpless the way the church used to. We used to have the church, in other words, we used to have each other, and the fact that we no longer do, puts the expectation of charity on the government!! Be a good conservative and help the less fortunate as you can, allow the church to help all who come to it.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  2. pwsamiam

    Some real truth from the Pope, too much for Limbaugh to digest, he's digested everything else!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  3. teaparty can suck a root

    Limbaugh, wrong again! The new Pope has his head screwed on right, The Missouri wingbag, drug addict, has his head screwed up.

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

      and that head is planted deeply up his a**l orifice

      December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  4. DCG

    Rush is a windbag of epic proportions...

    December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  5. nik green

    Jesus Christ's teachings – as regards human conduct – are clearly a form of "socialism". LImbaugh is scared that the US version of Christianity may be exposed for what it is – "Convenience Christianity" – in which Jesus's teachings are carefully selected and cherrypicked in order to conform to the modern American way of life – namely materialism, capitalism and consumerism.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  6. Not telling

    I think rush is really miss interpreting the popes comments. There are a lot of people in this world that are truly poor. As in starving to death, with no roof, no clean water, and little to no possessions. The pope is basically calling on the world to do more to help these people, not advocating marxism. If Rush thinks the genuinely poor of the world can rot, and that it is ok to mock them with his nice life and fat paycheck, then he really needs a dose of reality.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  7. Big_D

    If Limbaugh saw Jesus he would just be another "nappy headed" person he doesn't like.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  8. GS

    Nice going Mr. Limbaugh... You are one of the few people whose foot is smaller than his mouth, and so much smaller that many fail to see when you have put it in your mouth. You share the same ground with many (pseudo)"liberals" and "conservatives". Your ignorance of the difference between Catholicism and Communism is quite profound. Both "liberals" and "conservatives" in their gross inadequacies habitually trample upon the unalienable rights of individuals. So, I ask, for example, what is the difference between the trampling of the unalienable rights of the unborn by abortion and the mass hoarding of wealth to the starvation of countless individuals? Trickle down economics (advocated by many wealthy "liberals" and "conservatives") bears a very close resemblance to Mr. Stalin plucking a chicken naked and then giving it a few grains of food while it hovers close to his legs to gain what little warmth it could gain from his wicked but like people often do to the wealthy hoping to bet a few crumbs from them. Your advocacy of the mass hoarding of wealth makes you resemble communism in its reality, so, returning your foul judgments is the natural result of your judgments. At its base, the robbing of unalienable rights is "the love of money", which has been called "the root of all evil". And, mass hoarding is like abortion in that it represents a radical failure of an individual to share their life with someone else in need for selfish motives.
    It is true that there are some wealthy that generously share their wealth with others, but these are rare, and a wondrous sight when one is blessed to meet them, but I am speaking not of these souls but of those who offer their funds to causes which covertly and overtly trample upon the unalienable rights of individuals which put these unjustly rich in a position of unjust power over others so that they do not have to share their ill-gotten gain.
    And, Mr. Limbaugh, The infamous Third Reich hated the Catholic Church too, so go ahead, join the club. Nazis, Communists, "liberals" and "conservatives" and Rush Limbaugh-ists.
    The Catholic perspective represents a unique and just perspective that is shared by all men of good will regardless of religious or philosophical perspective, and that view is rejected by those who make gods of themselves with their paltry followings.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  9. umm

    The pope talks about helping the common man and holding him in the same ethical/spiritual position as a person with wealth. How wrong and marxist and unchristian it is, eh Rush?

    Jesus was all about hoarding wealth and holding it away from the poor/needy.. just like you and your conservative friends, is it Rush? All hail Rush, the true christian.. Not!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  10. JimNasium

    The most important news of the day is that some windbag called the pope's preachings Marxism?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  11. ron

    Rush is entertaining making a fool of himself and the GOP. It's hilarious! He must drink a lot of coffee.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  12. santos

    This is the reaction of those who feel guilty for not helping the poor. Any call to action to end poverty sounds like Marxism to them.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  13. cajr

    you think that's bad we had more than twice that vote for the current windbag in the white house.

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

      Hilarious to see a dumb donkey make a full of himself I thought, then it hit me, make an outrageous comment and donators will pour in..!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  14. Marco

    Limbaugh is a critic. He’s always been a critic. It’s what he does. I’m not sure why this is a story…unless Dan Burke is just looking for an opportunity to attack a right-wing political commentator.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  15. Tony

    The truth is somewhere between pure Marxism and pure unfettered Capitalism (money worship). I think the Pope is exhorting us to find that truth and not get lost between a sham debate on the extremes.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  16. Marcia

    The Pope has revealed a heart 3 times larger to include all and, as usual, Rush is revealing his heart 3 sizes too small just like the Grinch -IF he even has one-REALLY! ! !! ! You are taking on the Pope-he is WAY OUT OF YOUR LEAGUE Rush!-or was this reply made when you were drug addled?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  17. Big_D

    Rush must have got hooked back up with his "doctors" again. He is his own God when he has enough Oxycontin.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  18. mike

    Can't be a Christian and a right-wing nut. Pick one.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  19. SeattleExplorer

    Wait, Rush still has listeners? Those living under rocks I assume.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:06 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.