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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. AChurch

    called Catholic was meant to be political. Stop acting like you don't know history...or are you?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  2. calamity jane

    If it weren't for capitalism, Rush couldn't buy his oxycotin so easily on the free market.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • TheLocNar

      No. That's grifting.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  3. raul c.

    This clown Rush L. has no respect to no one and who is a typical right wing nut living and thinking as if he was the 1950's. Grow up clown for your sake..

    December 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  4. Billy Joe Mitchell

    How dare you make such a factually erroneous claim, good sir.

    Jesus was not a socialist – he was a Reagan-Conservative.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Robert Constant

      Time to start taking your meds again!

      December 3, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  5. John

    He may or may not be a Marxist.....but since you are into name calling, how about these for you?
    ....coward.............got out of Vietnam draft with hemorrhoids
    ....drug addict.......even Tom Sullivan acknowledged that you were hooked on Oxycotin for years, illegally
    ....fatso................so you at an event in Sacramento where you had to turn sideways to get through a door
    ....racist...............no doubt about that one
    ...name calling works both ways

    December 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  6. marcohern

    Limbaugh calling out on the Pope??? it's like the Devil calling out on God!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • nancheska

      Ayup....

      December 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  7. bob baden

    Finally a Pope that opens the church with new ideas and love instead of closing it off to the world. But junkie Rush sees it differently. How shocking.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Grand

      And 15 million people AGREE with this buffoon.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • yogi

        The brainwashed Foxies.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
      • Robert Constant

        God made the mentally challenged. That was for practice. Then He made Conservative Republicans.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  8. Country Above Parties

    It is not surprising that Rush the bone-head would called the Pope a Marxist then praised the real Marxist Putin just to discredit our own president Obama. What i am at a loss is there are 15 millions ditto stupid people who listen to him.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  9. Dale

    Mark my words...Limbaugh will soft-pedal this soon so that his conservative Catholic listeners won't question their allegiance to him. It will be a misunderstanding because the awful liberals and liberal mediate have hijacked the true message. Just like Palin said. He already has a caveat in there about "Unless it's a deliberate mistranslation by marxists". But just like Palin it's shoot first and back pedal later so the initial flamethrower message gets out there for several reasons, not the least of which is to make headlines and keep their own relevance up there.

    And I just L O V E how conservative talking heads are now trying hard to separate politics and religion when they've slathered themselves with religion for 30+ years. Schadenfreude at its best for me.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  10. John in Utah

    Limbaugh is an elitist fascist who's big mouth has gotten him in trouble before. He is solely about money. Every word he utters is designed to make him more money. He doesn't give a crap about the common man, the rich man, or the state of the world; he only cares about Rush and the size of his bank account. He leads the sheep that follow him like the Pied Piper lead rats.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  11. RobM

    So the popes a Marxist and Rush is a raving lunatic. We all got flaws.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • nancheska

      Ha!! Good one!!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  12. Twisted Logic

    Sadly Limbaugh, Palin and others are not interested in dialogue but in protecting what THEY have. This is not their ideology versus the Pope's, this is their bank account versus the Pope's ideology. There is no doubt that the Vatican is WAY TOO lavish and the Pope lives extremely comfortable for someone who is following Jesus Christ, a man who wanted nothing of the lavish and comforts of daily life. But this Pope has shushed much of the trappings and is showing to be sincere in his desire to follow Christ's example and thereby lead others by setting an example today.
    No religious organization should be pro-capitalism because it creates haves and have-nots by the nature of design, so the Pope should fight against capitalism. He should promote sharing, promote giving...not that he will change the way we operate businesses but to show a moral beacon to many, to raise our social/mental discourse.
    Limbaugh, Palin, etc. have no real interest in anything that creates or promotes harmony/peace. Their existence in the social fabric of our country is based on vitriol and fighting. All sides do it and they all should be shunned, not praised, for doing it, because they create and promote the vitriol and fighting ONLY to generate personnel wealth and power, not to help.
    If I am wrong, show me who either of them, in the course of their dialogues/speeches, have helped. Who has benefited from what they do?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • dave

      I could not agree with you more. Rush is the rich man's mouth piece. He say's the pope doesn't know what he is talking about but I think the pope has it figured out when he says trickle down does not work. It never did. That whole idea is something the rich try to convince us of so that we will patiently wait for some of that money to trick down to us. It never does, never ever. They just keep getting richer and more powerful while trying to take away our rights.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
      • calamity jane

        We need to change this. We talk about it. The wealthy 2% are aware that we have their number, yet things go on the same as always. We say it needs to change but what are we doing about it?

        December 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  13. Kenneth Newman

    Russ Limbaugh hasn't changed, and that's good, since he lives out his memories of being the Joseph Goebbels of the radio right / wrong!!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  14. J100409

    First, that's not Marxism, that's, oh, what's that ideology that focuses on helping the poor and sick? oh right, it's Christianity.
    Second, did someone on Fox News complain about religion influencing politics? That must have overloaded a few irony detectors.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  15. JustASec

    Even if the Pope is a marxist, Limbaugh is big fat waste of humanity.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  16. SixDegrees

    I'm pretty sure the Pope is a christian.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  17. njx

    I don't recall Jesus extolling the virtues of a free-market capitalist system. But, it's Rush Limbaugh, so you know that he's going to say something stupid more often than not.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  18. Red

    Rush is a racist slob who doesn't believe in anything but himself. He shouldn't even comment on anyone of faith.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  19. Jon

    Rush, stop embarrassing yourself. Again.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  20. johndeansmith

    "The world’s biggest problem is the unequal distribution of capitalism. If there were capitalism everywhere, you wouldn’t have food shortages."

    December 2, 2013 at 12:01 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.