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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. hrdwrknjoe

    Rush is dying a slow death and this is his death gurgle. He has nothing but two-by-tea to sale and uneducated Teapublican Taliban Klan idiots to listen to his trash. They're a few of us that listen to get our laughs at this moron and his moronetts.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  2. Bill Hannegan

    Rush is absolutely on the money on this one. The Pope is preaching an outdated form of Christianity – the type that Christ originally preached. But that is completely incompatible with modern American Christianity. If we literally did what Christ wanted, like "ye resist not evil", and "turn the other cheek", we wouldn't be able to spend billions on the department of defense, we'd have to spend that money on the homeless or poor. Also, what about Christians like myself and Rush that have earned the right to own an expensive car and big house with swimming pool? It makes us look bad when the Pope lives in poverty, just because that's what Christ wanted. It's time to break for the American Catholic church to break away from Rome like the Anglicans did. We have the money to do it.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • G. Brandess

      Rush has never been '" on the money"" for anything. Mostly he's been on what they used to call the lunatic fringe, and that's saying it mildly. He comes across as the buffoon the right, but that's nothing new.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Sean

      Hi Bill. So if you knew anything about history you would know that this "split" from the catholic church has already happened about 500-400 years ago when martin luther pinned his 95 theses on all saints church in 1517. starting the reformation. thats why there is so much variety of churches today. "we have the money to do it" who is we? are you advocating a state church? if so that is a bad idea and clearly anti american

      December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Save Us Jeebus

      So are you arguing for or against Limbaugh's comments? If so, then, sorry, but you don't get to decide that Jesus isn't the model anymore.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  3. kathy

    Consider the source....this fat bigoted drug addict is like a blustery bully that stomps and rants when he doesn't get his way. I only hope that so many of the ultra-conservative right morons who listen to this fat pig but have strong religious beliefs will finally turn away from this hate mongering blowhard.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  4. Drew

    Why does anyone with a brain bother listening to anything – ANYTHING – Rush Limbaugh has to say? He's a blithering idiot.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  5. igaftr

    Pure marxism? There is no such thing...Marxism has been re-written almost as much as the bible has. There are even parts of "marxism" that contradict other parts of "marxism" ( again, like the bible.)

    What is "pure Marxism"? I doubt that Marx or Engels themselves would recognize what you call Marxism.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  6. Jim

    Rush is a tool.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Ruppert Jenkins

      Rush is a very articulate and rich man that you can't stand. Just admit you're jealous.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  7. Fozman

    "Who's Rush Limbaugh?"

    Said everyone under 40.

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

    He has been, and always will remain, a loud pompous slug with a chip on his shoulder against anything that runs contrary to what he desires or attempts to claim is right. Too bad he often only ends up coming off as a desperate fool seeking relevance in a world that is increasingly leaving his sorry antiquated ideas behind. I wish he would do the world a favor and Rush off of a cliff somewhere.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Ruppert Jenkins

      Admit it. You hate him because he is influential, powerful, and millions actually listen to him, and even quote him, on a daily basis. You disagree with him, so you want him to "go away". Too bad you won't get what you want. Rush will likely work this job until he dies.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  9. MazeAndBlue

    I guess ObamaCare is not a popular target of conversation by the tea party nuts anymore. Wonder why? Maybe it's November 30th......DEMS 2014-2016!!! YES>>>>>

    December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Don Hays

      Who are you going to listen to the Pope or a disk jockey.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  10. Bob

    As a Methodist, Limbaugh has no dog in the fight here. Simply put, it's none of his damn business.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  11. Groovy67

    Why do we care what this fat-ass Limbaugh thinks? He's such a worthless waste of space. I give this new Pope credit for trying to break down barriers and teach what Jesus preached all along.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Ruppert Jenkins

      Really? Is that what it has come to? Insulting someone's physique just because you dislike what that say? Does that mean we on the right can now go and attack every homely or overweight liberal out there?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  12. Alex Moore

    Really, CNN? This is the best story you can ever come up with for your headlines????

    December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  13. Whosure

    Wow! Limbaugh taking on the Pope? That puts Pope Francis on the fast track to Sainthood!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • ShutUpFatBoy

      kinda makes ya want to like the pope even more doesn't it? Just on principle if nothing else.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  14. Sir Cecil

    Extraordinary that a Rush Limbaugh comment is deemed worthy of featuring as the lead story of an international news site.
    It is becoming increasingly difficult to view CNN as a serious player in the news business. The editor responsible for these kinds of decisions should be fired. I shall now replace my CNN bookmark with that of the BBC.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  15. drrichard

    A very wealthy pathological liar is upset when someone talks about helping the world's poor. And this is news because he has a big mouth? Or discovered that if you yell long enough somebody might listen? Ignore this fool and he'll go away.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  16. Norm

    Love all the liberal hypocrites here. You spit on the Catholic church until they tell you its OK to take other people's money. Here's a concept: maybe if you listened to the other church teachings and didn't have 5 kids out of wedlock with 5 different guys, you wouldn't NEED someone else's money.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Sir Cecil

      You take other people's money, scrounger. Did you pay cash for your home and car? Do you have a zero credit card balance?
      No, so you decided to buy stuff you couldn't pay for by begging the banks to give you money you haven't earned. The money you scrounged is a lot more than any food stamp recipient. And when you eventually go bankrupt you'll have freeloaded more money than hundreds of food stamp recipients. Stand on your own two feet, money-beggar.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
      • Norm

        Any money I've gotten from someone else is because of a mutually agreed upon, mutually beneficial, and mutually voluntary premise. No one is forcing them to give me their money. Unlike liberals who breed hate and envy I don't wail and gnash my teeth just because someone has more than I do.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
        • Sir Cecil

          Mutually agreed? Bankruptcy is "mutually agreed too, is it? And bankrupts cost this country a whole lot more each year than food stamp recipients. Check the numbers and see the so-called upstanding, self-sufficient people like you who end up leaving unpaid debts. And don't tell us you'll never go bankrupt... you have no idea what might befall you, just as other poor people never realized they might need help one day. I hope when YOU need help in future, you run into someone just like yourself, with no moral or compassionate standards. I consider your kind as vile.

          December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Norm is dumb

      Hilarious comment!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  17. Jenny

    Is that big sack of fertilizer still around? Have another OxyContin and relax, Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  18. US citizen

    Rush Limbaugh is nothing compare to Pope Francis. No dignity, no honor, no feel for others. How is it possible for this pig to even open his mouth about Pope?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Ruppert Jenkins

      Been listening to Rush for over 15 years. It's extremely likely his IQ is far higher than the Pope's . Just stating the obvious.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
      • ShutUpFatBoy

        @Ruppert Jenkins

        Nice reaching. You truly are a Rush listener aren't you!
        Seriously though, all you just did was make it known that you are prone to jumping to foolish conclusions about someone just because they insulted your little hero. You have no idea if MER likes a single person you listed. You're just flailing in the dark (which appears to be a common and sad pattern for Rush fans who seek to blindly defend him). At least MER stated something that was only expressing his personal opinion. You instead leap to the conclusion that because he thinks Rush is a pig he must be automatically be a liberal. It's ignorance like that that undoes your arguments before you ever had a chance. It's a visible and common trait with too many tea party supporters and it's why they will likely stand zero chance in American politics in 2016. Hopefully no overly liberal candidates will either. It's time for new ideas in America. Either way, enjoy your wasted time defending Rush though... Pssst, he doesn't give two flying rat nuggets about you by the way, he just wants ratings and more fools to buy his books.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  19. Liquid Nails

    This is just sad. Limbaugh is still remotely relevant?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  20. Barry G

    Whether the pope is preaching Marxism or not–I'd rather be in the pope's shoes on the Judgment Day, than in Rush Limbaugh's.

    As I recall, Jesus taught us that whether one will enter heaven or Hell, depends on whether they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and those in prison. (Gospel According to Matthew)

    Jesus also said: Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your reward; but, blessed are you who are poor, for your's in the Kingdom of God. (Gospel According to Luke)

    What does Rush preach, regarding these matters?
    (Gospel According to Rush)

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 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.