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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. tpobrienjr

    Capitalism is an economic system, not a political system.
    Marxism is an economic system, not a political system.
    It goes without saying that Rush Limbaugh is full of it. What satirical blog will he quote next, swearing it's fact?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  2. Lemon Talks

    CHECK OUT FOX NEWS TOP HEADLINE VS. CNN.

    THIS IS WHY FOX NEWS IS NUMBER ONE IN RATINGS.

    FOXNEWS TOP HEADLINE IS The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to ObamaCare brought by a Virginia-based Christian university, ending for now one of the biggest remaining legal fights against the health care law.

    CNN: RUSH VS. POPE

    LOL cnn

    December 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Shhhh

      So go to Fox. Comment there. Oh, wait...they banned trolls, didn't they?

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

      Fox "News" is #1 in ratings for the same reason that Goebbels propaganda was. Lies and innuendo, fear and paranoia always sell to the credulous.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Aaron Hibbard

      More people hate Rush than like him – that's why he is still wind-baggin it on the air.
      I believe the same applies to Fox News – you watch it just to make fun of it!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  3. An American Catholic

    Hey Rush Windbag... Lay off my Pope!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  4. lobstergator

    OMG, I so do not care one iota what this bloated pile of pig vomit has to say about anything. Who gives a rat's rearend what Limbaugh says and thinks? He's a misogynest; he's a black-hearted Conservative; he's a pill-popping hypocrite; he's a bore; he's a bourgoise icehole who gets off on telling people how to live according to his twisted, misguided, money-driven rules. Rush Limbaugh can bite the shiniest part of my backside.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • mb2010a

      You forgot drug addict...

      December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • cynthia

      Well said, excellent.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • CitizenKK

      Nice comments ....you must be a liberal...

      December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  5. Tonyb

    The voice of authority…..c'mon fatal coronary…..

    December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  6. ChuckChucklesAgain

    When does the Vatican liquidate and give the billions of dollars away to the dirty poor?

    When the Vatican leads by example and completes that, THEN I will follow. Not until.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  7. Gloria

    Funny, because the last time I read what Pope Francis said, I thought, the Pope and Obama would get along very well. He sounded like a Socialist. Limbaugh always exaggerates, Marxists are what a lot of people describe the Socialists as being here in posting.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  8. Jeanne

    Rush's numbers are down. So what does Rush the Marketer do? Look for someone popular to criticize in an effort to improve his own numbers. There isn't any substance to Rush; he's just flailing trying to regain the audience he used to have.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  9. Bill Self

    What is rush trying to run off the only company still spending money for his show to stay on the air sounds good to me the sooner the better.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  10. PHinMiami

    Rush Limbaugh is and educated man, . . . NOT. He made it through High School. Why this man has any credibility is testimony to the ignorance of the GOP.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  11. Anna

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

    December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  12. Lemon Talks

    CHECK OUT FOX NEWS TOP HEADLINE VS. CNN.

    THIS IS WHY FOX NEWS IS NUMBER ONE IN RATINGS.

    FOXNEWS TOP HEADLINE IS The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to ObamaCare brought by a Virginia-based Christian university, ending for now one of the biggest remaining legal fights against the health care law.

    CNN: RUSH VS. POPE

    December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • che Lopez

      I can not believe this fat ugly souled man would even say this. You are right- this should help those ratings!
      What a joke he is.
      hahahaha

      December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • bigjohnhunkler

      I have one better, once Fox had headlines about OBL...CNN's headline was about McDonald's redesigning their clown.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  13. David O`Neal

    Nothing like a drug addict Republican moron attacking someone concerned about those without....This Pope is the first religious Head to stand up and ask that we all look after those less fortunate than us.That was Gods request.If you don`t believe in God at lest believe in reaching out.Someone reached out to me 35 years and it changed my life....Everyone does a little the world might be just a little better.Sorry to say there are more takers now,but the have always been around.Good even in small doses is better than todays hate that seems to be in vogue....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • jim

      Right on Bro!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Dazzy

      There's a difference between helping your fellow man and full government regulation of private businesses. Government regulating wealth is the definition of Marxism.

      Rush is still an idiot but he's not wrong on this one.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  14. dmw_4814

    Rush Limbaugh is a GIANT, pompous jacka**!! Go take some more Oxycontin, and stop worrying about losing some of your obscene riches.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  15. Sven

    Herr Rush, the Holy See forgives you, and wishes you a happy afterlife, the sooner the better. Even as you call names and pompously voice indignation, be certain that the demons are busily working to make room for your enormous, bloated carcass in the Ninth Circle, but they may have to dig a Tenth to accommodate your surplus of sewet. You ignorant, distended windbag.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  16. oneSTARman

    If one were to compare the Rantings of a Deaf (and LOUD) Narcotic Addict to the studied Pronouncements of someone destined for SAINTHOOD I think maybe the fact that the VIEWS of the former are at ODDS with the later is not terribly surprising; that does not however mean that the views of the soon to be saint are at odds with JESUS

    December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • John

      Well said in a short response. I would have gone on forever about how Limbaugh obviously doesn't understand Christian teachings and therefore can not translate the Pope's statements. But then again, Limbaugh is an idiot

      December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • JAMES OLIVER

      Pretty much sums it up in an easy to follow statement.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  17. SMH

    Why is Limbaugh top of the page news? He's a has been.

    The Pope reminding the 'christians' of their unchristian behavior has Limbarf up in arms.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • bigjohnhunkler

      The pope reminding Catholics...

      December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  18. Bubba Hotep

    Breaking news! L to the O-L, do people really take Limbaugh seriously? I wonder if he thinks Marxism is the same as Grouchoism and Harpoism. Must have had a drop in listeners...time to stir the pot! Save the drama for your mama, Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  19. Terry G

    It's going to be a tough decision. Give up the pope or give up Limbaugh. Glad I'm a protestant.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  20. Frank

    I was not aware that Rush (is that his name?) was still around. He opens his mouth, and CNN makes it the lead story. Interesting.

    "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." If Rush had ever lived in a socialist society, I may take his word over the Pope's when it comes to the evils of Socialism. As it stands, however, I think Pope Francis has more expertise and life experience.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Sven

      and something else that Rush does not and never will have: integrity. This Pope walks the walk. that's why he's upsetting to so many like the Rushbag that worship only money.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:58 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.