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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. Sam

    For someone who has made it his personal boogeyman, Rush has very little understanding of what Marxism is.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  2. Bugs

    Someone needs to learn the difference between charity and taxes. Charity is goods given freely. Taxes are goods confiscated by force (legally, but by force nevertheless). Nobody loses his home, his business, or his freedom because he doesn't have enough money – or enough generosity – to give to charity. In the Pope's world, that would change.

    Two different processes, and never the twain shall meet.

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

      Lol....you mean like Obamacare? Total garbage...all of you libt ards are garbage.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  3. akork

    I forgot, why do we still listen to what Rush Limbaugh has to say again?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  4. 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?

    so rush is wrong?

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

      Hmm.. may be you should read some more books an gain some knowledge before talking.. there is no forced charity.. in fact it is not charity if it is forced. Pope is merely showing the way.. there's still a big thing cllaed CHOICE that you and I have.. Pope is not saying redistribute so that everyone gets equal. He is just saying give more..

      Jesus in fact said one step more – HE said give all your money away and follow me.. Read the bible lemon, not the twisted versions that people like Rush feed you.. In case you didn't get it – Rush is never to be taken seriously, he is just a habitual joker

      December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  5. George

    People like Rush exists purely for the comic pleasure of others.. Please don't take him seriously, he's just trying to make you laugh your heart out.. – in fact his radio show is the most underappreciated comedy show

    December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  6. snowyowl

    Read the New Testament, Rush.

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

      You mean the part about there being NO MAN between God and Man.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  7. Chris

    Limbaugh thinks he is holier than the Pope. No surprise there.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  8. Sussay

    And what does the great and powerful LimblOZ plan to do about this?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  9. GMENFAN54

    Its obvious Rush is smoking crack.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  10. John Yard

    Not Marx, but Christ.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  11. BC

    Rush is 100% correct.

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

      "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven" Your lord and savior Jesus

      December 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  12. jack

    In the Zohar a Jewish book written at least written in the mid 1200s and believed to be the heart of the Torahs "soul" had the Rabbis quoting and calling an obligation for The rich to feed the poor andthe wise to teach the dumb Yup sounds like Judao christian

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

    Who sponsors this idiot? The KKK must have more money than I thought.

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

      Myself and many...many others sponsor Rush. You must be a big Dik.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
      • Big_D

        Or you are a complete moron.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      • Big_D

        I have a large dik. Your envy is noted.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  14. 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 tell me how rush is wrong

    December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  15. alligatorarms

    Limbaugh is an idiot windbag. But you knew that.....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  16. kondordisqus

    Last, desperate gasp from a media has-been. I suspect we will be hearing about Rush's retirement soon enough. This looks like his "go out with a bang" controversy. Happy days coming soon!

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

      you seem to care a lot

      December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  17. NightOps

    Isn't religion about finding God? Isn't a "Christian" life about a lifestyle in it's entirety, and not just what you do once or twice a week for about 2 hours? It's laughable to hear "Christians" decrying the notion that your faith shouldn't be linked with everything else you do...

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  18. nwcommenter

    What greater proof do people need, to know that the GOP is not in the working classes best interest whatsoever. The GOP and their corporate masters will continue to squeeze every ounce of labor they can for as very little as they can.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  19. ART

    I think that the best part of Rush Limbaugh trickled down his fathers thighs

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  20. jasoncdanforth

    Breaking news: Conservative Christian supports Darwinism, mislabels Marxism, is flaming hypocrite.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 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.