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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. BC

    If Rush we're running for president he would beat out any Liberal out there....I just love to see Liberals get all worked up....tools!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  2. Chris

    Limbaugh is correct.

    I don't listen to Limbaugh. I'm not a Catholic. I like this Pope and even though I disagree with his redistribution politics – I respect the guy because he is making waves.

    When the Catholic church sells their vast art collection, sells their property around the world – VOLUNTARILY PAYS TAXES IN THE USA (so the government can keep paying for food stamps and welfare) – then they can preach about the inequities of the rich over the poor.

    This Pope is a game changer but I think there is a line when it comes to using THEIR money to settle the inequities of the poor, the stupid, the lazy and the clueless.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • radar8

      The need for welfare is do to, in a large part, the greed of the people to which the Pope refers. The heads of corporations that are making record profits and salaries, all on the backs of people that they don't pay enough to survive.... so they require assistance in the form of welfare.
      When Walmart pays people minimum wage, the taxpayers have to make op the difference in the form of welfare. Walmart (and other big corporations) make bigger profits that the taxpayers subsidize.
      You, me, all of us taxpayers "donate" money (in the form of taxes) so that these big corporations can pay their workers less and still make record profits.
      It is this system to which the Pope refers.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  3. veep

    Mr. Limbaugh's conscience died a looooooooooooong time ago.

    Christians that side with him do so at their own peril.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  4. Paul

    "Lush Rimbaugh" no longer has credibility. He spews nonsense.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  5. 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?

    no one has yet explain how rush was wrong???

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Puzzled

      Um, where EXACTLY does the Evangelii mention forcibly taking anyone's money?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • Salvador

        You are correct PUZZLED. It's actually the other way around. Rush thinks he's so right "with one hand tied behind his back" but yet acknowledges that it comes from God or should I say from gawd! 'cause God is the real thing. He is the one taking it forcible since he thinks that he earned it? Imagine that, he is more powerful than God!

        December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Salvador

      You are correct PUZZLED. It's actually the other way around. Rush thinks he's so right "with one hand tied behind his back" but yet acknowledges that it comes from God or should I say from gawd! 'cause God is the real thing. He is the one taking it forcible since he thinks that he earned it? Imagine that, he is more powerful than God!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  6. august43

    Rush will not be the first to find out what a pain it is to attack religion. In former times, things like burning at the stake were not unheard of....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  7. Boycott all Limbaugh radio stations and products!

    Boycott all Rush Limbaugh stations and the products that are advertised and see what happens.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Robert

      Nothing of a biycott. Sales will increase.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  8. anchorite

    Yeah, well you've been preaching pure fascism for years, Rush, so too bad.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  9. Normita

    Mr. Limbaugh is way off base, as usual. This man, the Pope, is one of charity and God's love. He is not a Marxist but one who wants to help those who need help and love those who need love. Mr. Limbaugh has a hard heart and cannot grasp this concept without putting labels on it. We pray for you.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  10. Phil Johnson

    One of the basic tenets of Marxism is the centralization of all assets into the hands of the central authority, and I don't think Pope Frank is advocating that at all. Rush Limpballs must be drug addled still.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  11. Kain

    Go read Acts chapter 4 in the bible and you will read how the church is based off a socialist system.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  12. antdog

    Here in Seattle, grassroots efforts passed a $15 minimum wage law, and elected a Socialist to our City Council.

    If leaders at the local and national level were responsive, it would not be coming to this.

    Gridlock and dysfunction are clearly their best friends–keeps the stacked deck stacked–but can you blame them ? When trillions are being funneled to the top like greased lightning, it is in their best interests to keep the perpetual ATM's humming.

    The only way to balance this is with equal force–what choices are the masses of people left with ?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  13. Jolat

    Limbaugh makes the headline on CNN. I'm not surprised its in a negative light.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Grand

      Rush is the largest purveyor of negativity. Why are you shocked that he reaps what he sows?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Ann

      At least CNN is reporting the story – no mention on the fair and balanced Fox news website

      December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  14. iceload9

    Hhhhhmmmmm someone who dedicated their life to helping the poor or someone who dedicated their wealth to self-aggrandizement. I'll go with helping the poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  15. Mike the American

    I'm a conservative Catholic and will always be. We've always known Rush is a fool. He's an entertainer that says stupid things to rile others who are not in his group. It's all for the ratings. There are idiots on both sides of the aisle. He's one of them on ours. I'll still support conservative candidates though. Nice try CNN.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  16. Anna

    .
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeedE8vH1FQ&w=640&h=360]
    .

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  17. anne

    he needs rushed prayerrrrrrrrr!!!!!!r, i love Pope Francis he is a model of unconditional love wich is missing in this world

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  18. Person of Interest

    When pops were preaching non-abortion stances and anti-gay marriage they wanted to hear what he had to say. Now that he's talking about the ever growing gap between the rich and poor they don't like him and want religion out of politics.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  19. Distant Voice

    Never has Rush oinked more loudly!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  20. Diraphe

    Anyone with experience with the Catholic church knows its true

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 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.