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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
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(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. 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 wont anyone actually step up to the plate and explain how rush is wrong?

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

      He's wrong. Just like all the other wannabe Christian Compassionate Conservatives that espouse selfishness over compassion.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • ManWiththe1000PoundBrain

      Because one of the most well known and basic teachings of Christ is helping the poor. People like you and Limbaugh are simply trying to absolve yourself of guilt while justifying your own immorality and selfishness.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • jungleboo

      "...Evangelii Gaudium talks about FORCED CHARITY, OR TAKING PEOPLES MONEY BY FORCE..."

      So you read Latin? No, let me guess. You read English? Probably not.
      Hop in Rush's lap. He'll tell you all the bedtime stories you have time for.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Thee Lime that ate the Lemon

      Lemonbrain, you can go ahead and think that the pope's message is communism, however you'll also have to stop being christian (if you are). Same goes for all the other hypocritical, in name only christians that support Rush. The bible is about helping your fellow man includig the poor. Republicaans onnly help people when it benefts them. Theyll pay lip service to the god so they get into heaven, and theyll donate $ so they can say they donate $, and theyll support causes as long as it keeps the status quo of whiite men being on top. some muslims beleif in god is corrupted by over zealousness and plain stupidity, whiile many christians belief in god is corrupted by greed and narcissm.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  2. tony b

    it figures that the only time CNN sticks up for the Pope is when he makes statements supporting equal societies, equal pay, etc.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  3. Shimmer

    Being taxed isn't sharing, it's being bullied.

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

      NO -taxation is you supporting community and civilization-you know-roads, sewers, fire, police etc-are you saying you are against civilization while you take the benefits?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  4. Joe

    Is Rush a fundamental Marxist, by attributing all the goodness, empathy and Holiness of Pope Francis, as possible only for the Marxists or what is humanness is simply Marxism exclusive? Pope Francis is simply urging the world system to improve further, so as to 'feed his sheep'! Pope Francis, go ahead; if u r crucified, u become more Christian only, not Marxist like this Rush!

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

      Wrong end of the spectrum, he has more fascist ideals.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  5. Nick

    Rush says he idealizes Capitalism, but what he proposes and demands is more resembling of a Fascist state.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • radar8

      Fascism is a political philosophy. Capitalism is a monetary system. Comparing the two makes no sense. People like Rush (uneducated imbeciles) constantly confuse capitalism, socialism, fascism and marxism.
      It's truly sad when an ignoramus like Rush calls the Pope a fascist. What's even sadder are the millions of people that tune in to Rush to listen to his uneducated ramblings and lies.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  6. eastcastle

    whoever listen to this big mouth, they would die.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  7. Matthew

    Limbaugh is correct. The pope is supposed to point people to Christ and not to Marx or anyone else.

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

      As a former Catholic who is now an atheist I'd say the pope is (basically) teaching the word of Jesus Christ. If you think Jesus was a Marxist, so be it. Maybe he was.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • Matthew

        If the pope were teaching Christ, he would quote Him. Christ wants us to depend on Him and not money or the government.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • radar8

          The Pope was trying to point out that praying at the "church of money" goes against Christ's teachings and all that is christian.

          December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Colty

    God damn it CNN, don't put Limbaugh as the top headline. Trashy.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  9. JG

    Rush's ratings must be dipping again....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  10. Chief P

    Why is it sooo easy to pick out the ditto heads in these responses. I'm sure the Pope is listening to someone MUCH more wise and influential than the ditto heads and theeir false prophet Rush the drug addict and impotent, well, must be kind. The good thing is that Rush and his apostles won't ever have to worry about running into the Pope, Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit or any of the saints once they depart from this physical, me-me-me life.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  11. Journey

    First Palin's "Francis is too liberal" and now Rush's "Pope is a Marxist". I think the GOP is ending the "evangelical / catholic alliance" after getting whipped in the 2012 election and are now pulling the old "Papist are taking over the economy" card from 1890. Fear baiting. But at least they've moved from the 16th century to the 19th century. A few more election defeats and they'll catch up.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  12. Jennifer

    Wow, caring for the poor = Marxism. Pope Francis's statements about putting the needs of the poor above greed needed to be said by the church for a VERY long time. Thank you Rush for displaying just how purely evil you, your ideals, and the so called Christian right in America really are.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  13. Lardeau

    THE NERVE OF THIS MAN !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He's paid by big business. He should shut his mouth !!!!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  14. typicalwhitemale

    The only ones more irrelevant than the pope is CNN. All of a sudden liberals who tend to be rabidly anti-God want to pretend like the pope's words are credible.

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

      The approval rating of this pope is much higher among liberals and non-catholics than any in recorded past.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  15. CNN needs a back bone

    Rush the bigot B*st*rd at his finest....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  16. radar8

    Rush is mad because the Pope basically said that what Rush does for a living is wrong. Rush makes millions of dollars spreading hate and lies. Of course Rush is mad. The Pope pointed out that Rush is a low-life who is out to enrich himself regardless of the consequences of his actions.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  17. TK

    I think of images of people trampling each other to get Black Friday merchandise before anyone else and wonder if maybe we've lost touch with what's important. Isn't the Pope just asking us to put things into the right perspective? That doesn't make him a Marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Lynnard-FL

      THANK YOU!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  18. Sigi

    Why don't people just read what "The Good Book" says on the matters of wealth and charity if they pretend to be Christians. It's pretty radical for its times and today as well, you want to label it Marxist, go ahead. The Pope is not stating anything new.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  19. Serious Truth

    Does this mean that the Catholic Church is going to start giving away all their assets? Funny that the Catholic Church would call out the rich against the poor, has anyone ever been to the Vatican? I guess with centuries of taking the best, maybe the Catholic Church will now give.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Chief P

      Wow. You are quite the fool aren't you!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  20. 2L

    Is that Rob Ford? They're so simlar in appearance and mannerisms, it's easy to get them mixed up

    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 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.