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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. jinx9to88

    Here we go I can hear the wackos birds on the right saying the Pope is from Africa.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  2. teenage boy

    The Pope is a Liberation Theologian, not a Marxist. Get a life, dude.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      he is an expert in fairy tales?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  3. Nick

    Jesus taught service not socialism. Love and serve your fellow man not hand them your paycheck. What did Jesus think of tax collectors and taxes. Do some reading you may be enlightened.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  4. George

    So Jesus was the first Marxist then? Is that what Limbaugh is saying.. It's so disappointing that this fellow has a successful radio career. what a clown

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      jesus never said a thing about forced charity

      December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  5. nwcommenter

    The pope is absolutely right. The rich continue to get richer on the backs of the working classes and the working classes suffer as a result.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  6. nik green

    How long is it going to take for the CIA (or other group) to assassinate Pope Francis, and then claim he "committed suicide", or died in a "road accident", or some other "incident"? It's the good guys who try to change things for the better for ordinary folk – who end up dead....all the way from Jesus Christ to Martin Luther King.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  7. elgatony

    Hey, CNN, why is this windbag your banner headline on your news site? About as many people care about Rush Limbaugh's opinions as Don Imus, Glenn Beck and Howard Stern's. Quit treating these hacks' opinions as news and go back to actually reporting news...and make actual news your banner! Covering these windbags and making them seem more important than they actually are does not help your reputation.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  8. Bruce Allen

    Stop giving this nut-job credibility by making what he says 'news'. All he represents is.....the worst of us.

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

      Agree, to much credibility to a guy like him......

      December 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  9. wrm

    lol @ people who get their panties in a bunch over Limbaugh. Every time you do it he cashes in.

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

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about FORCED CHARITY, OR TAKING PEOPLES MONEY BY FORCE which i am sure the vatican would love to do.

    and then redistributing the money.

    taking money by force to give to other people is infact a tenet of marxism.

    why is this hard to understand for some? please explain how rush is wrong????

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

      this person, Limbaugh, is a Nearthental.... Pope is not FORCING anyone to do anything. He is telling what he think people should do. In addition, the Pope is a good man, that other person is not ( judging by what they both say....)

      December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Anni

      Read Matthew 25: 35-46

      December 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  11. JohnRJohnson

    Rush Limbaugh attacks the Pope for caring about the poor and elderly. Why does this surprise ANYBODY?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  12. lindalou

    I love this pope. He's the first in my lifetime that holds the same values as me. If Rush doesn't agree with him, he's doing all right in my book. The Catholic church hits up it parishioners on a weekly basis 'for the poor'. Living in grandeur in Rome doesn't speak to me of a selfless contribution to your people. God Bless Him!!..and I don't say that lightly.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  13. Hurry Limbo

    Whatever you say Limbo got his picture next to the Pope. He makes a living with his art of brain chatter and some people in the US political arena like it. Do we hate his comments? No. Lots of guys in the street corner keep saying things and we do spare them some change.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  14. Daniel Kolb

    Is Rush off his Hydrocodone/Oxycontin again?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  15. AJ

    I am not surprised. Forget the Pope, anyone who wants to make a difference will have the face such allegations. It is not new and it has been this way for very very long. Remember the 'earth was round' story. Often the person who wants to bring the change has to pay a huge price and sometimes even life, life Christ. But the TRUTH will eventually win no matter what.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  16. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about FORCED CHARITY, OR TAKING PEOPLES MONEY BY FORCE which i am sure the vatican would love to do.

    and then redistributing the money.

    taking money by force to give to other people is infact a tenet of marxism.

    why is this hard to understand for some?

    why?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      "Evangelii Gaudium talks about FORCED CHARITY" Really. Quote that part for us, if you don't mind.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  17. Jib76

    John 21:14-17
    New International Version (NIV)
    14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep!"

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  18. usenergydata

    Rush has absolutely no idea about the meaning of Marxism. He has a knee-jerk (or just a jerk) reaction to anything that hints of fairness, equity, or empathy for those worse off than himself. This is his standard demagoguery at its worst. Coming from him tells me the Pope is right on the mark, and I am no Catholic. Keep up the good work, Francis!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  19. Dave

    not word of it untrue...but then if Francis says you dont have to beleive in God to go to heaven why do we need a Pops?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • WillB

      Rush's only religion is money

      December 3, 2013 at 7:28 am |
  20. o

    Jesus was a Marxist? Didn't Marx come much later?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      If you ever noticed that the rich keep getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer, you are a Marxist. No problem. If you try to do something about it, you are probably a socialist, communist, syndicalist, fascist, libertarian, conservative, progressive, or anarchist. Good luck with that; so far wide-open capitalism with frequent crashes and depressions has worked better than anything we try on purpose.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:19 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.