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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. EAPoe

    "When I give food the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist."
    –Hélder Câmara

    December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  2. fittinguy

    Poor Rush, he is so misunderstood... Hahaha, just kidding! He is a staunch defender of "The Free Market", a term that economists say does not actually exist, but is synonymous with "no or lax regulations" on business. Remember, Corporations are People too!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  3. jimmy

    Rush is a drug addict. Enough said.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Airwear78

      All hilarious. Pope and what is said about him has no effect on your life.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  4. vangoatee

    *clearing* false prophet *throat*

    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  5. Hugo S LaVia

    I wonder if Rush would be shocked to learn (learn, HA!) that Jesus was a full-blown left-wing libbie.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • vangoatee

      Hmmm. I read the entire New Testament, and I can't find any passage that says Jesus was pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage. Matthew was a tax collector, and he converted him. Jesus was not Robin Hood. He didn't forcibly take from the rich and give to the poor. I hate the Jesus/liberal analogy. It doesn't work no matter how much you libtards want it to.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • MarkinFL

        No he did not force. He merely let you know that if you wish to get into heaven you better act accordingly. Tea-party take note..... 🙂

        December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • vangoatee

          I'm already helping the poor–forcibly by the US government. Taxes in Jesus day went directly to the King. They didn't have "social programs" or a "welfare state" back in 33AD.

          December 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  6. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium says that if the koran is read correctly there is nothing in it that promotes violence.

    SAY WHAT??

    THIS POPE SOUNDS LIKE A POLITICIAN WHO WANTS TO BE LOVED BY ALL.

    THE KORAN HAS 109 VERSE WITH COMMANDS TO KILL.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Good thing the Bible is all lovey dovey...... Not.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  7. Paul Drake

    Rush Limbaugh quit being news years ago. Does anyone really care what he has to say. I don't. But wait......that should be news. I can see it now. READER thinks Rush Limbaugh is a moron.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Roger Jones

      Pay attention. His audience is larger than any else. We should not be surprised that the Pope is pushing Marxism. It has to happen for the world to unite under the flag of Hedonism.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
      • Jeff

        That's the scary part. The fact anyone in the world would even pay attention to one word he has to say is really, really bad.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Airwear78

      Hope you all feel just as much agression against the pope. Who cares what Rush says besides the people crying about him every time he opens his mouth? Who cares about the Pope period?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  8. gustifer53

    Ole Rush the Lush will NEVER learn when to keep his mouth shut. Him and his Republican'ts and Teabanger followers just lost the Catholic vote along with about everyone else that they have shown their racism towards and just plain ole stupid remarks made my politicians on the Right. They will always keep the far Right nut jobs, but that is about it. I love how stupid they really are. No White House in 2016, for the Republican'ts or the Teabangers...LMAO

    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  9. Strategerist

    Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than socialism ever will.
    Rush is controversial on many things, but on this issue, he's spot on.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • mike

      Pure capitalism has no better a track record than pure socialism.

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

      Capitalism lifts many people out of poverty, by taking food out of the mouths of everyone else. There is not an unlimited amount of money on the earth. When someone makes it; someone else loses it. The truly and historically wealthy have laws passed by their paid politicians to ensure they do not lose their wealth. When they lose that control, they crash and burn. Not because supply and demand dried up. It's because they started believing that no one would take advantage of them the way they had blind sided others.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  10. jd

    The only way he would even know what marxisim was or anything else for that matter is if it was edible

    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  11. Operator10

    Rush Limbaugh is 'sad' and 'unbelievable'.. (don't bother replying to me peoples.. won't help, waste of time)

    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Ruppert Jenkins

      Actually, Rush is not sad at all. He's a pretty happy guy. Most intelligent and wealthy people are.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  12. Jose Arroyo

    What is Christianity if not a religion that should follow Christ's teachings? And the Pope has not said anything that Jesus Christ didn't say himself and that is not already in the Bible: give up your wealth to the poor, turn the other cheek, forgive those who harm you, purse not material things but rather spiritual richness, and so on. So, forget Limbaugh; for any one to say that the Pope is Marxist, they're probably right. What is wrong is the view that you can reconcile a love for money with Christianity, and hence Limbaugh's idiotic rant.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  13. blf83

    The world would be much more hospitable if people followed the Pope's suggestions for living; we already see the destructive quality of Rush's words.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  14. ThisIsNot4U2

    UH! OH!...Someone's running low on OXYCONTIN... :-O

    December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  15. nc_mike

    If the pope is speaking pure marxism (not!), then Jesus did also. I'll side with Jesus instead of the godless Right Wingers.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  16. aavasque

    Hey CNN: How/why do you guys quote Limbaugh thinking about the Pope? Who cares what this Limbaugh's folk think, say, declare, etc? Why even giving Limbaugh space in your web page. What a waste of everything !!! Please devote these pages to something constructive & helpful (like CNN Heroes). Something related on how/what to do to imitate Chris during X-Mas season.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  17. MarkinFL

    Uhh, gee, the psuedo Christian right-wing should notice that they do not represent Christ's views even in the tiniest way.
    The least Christian segment of our population would not recognize a real Christian if it helped their but out of a jam.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  18. Sean

    Rush, if you had the ability to be a rational human being you would understand the reasoning behind the popes comments. but since you cant let me just break it down for you #1 the pope is Catholic and recognizes that GREED is a deadly sin and the opposite of Greed is charity so when he sees capitalists making billions of dollars and not being charitable thats a sin plain and simple. so yes hes going to criticize it, it has nothing to do with politics. #2 hes from latin america and if you knew anything about the history american involvement in latin america youd know that the U.S. has essesntially economically subjegated most countries in latin america to serve american interests, bolivia, panama, argentina, mexico its all there. so before you start running your ignorant mouth why dont you pick up a history book and understand where the other person is coming from!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  19. t socrates

    Just like Jesus taught.
    What is it that Rush ascribes to?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  20. Rush ismy buddy

    How many marriages you had in your life ?
    Don't you have eyes to see when a human being try to look for one meal a day ...... !
    Don't you have yes to see when a human being try to find any ways to get medicine .. !
    You are there to preach conservative terrorism. Are you a human being ? What kind of values you have Mr. Conservative ?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:05 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.