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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. Lemon Talks

    how many have read Evangelii Gaudium , did you read it before you called rush wrong?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • al newman

      have a look at rerum novarum.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  2. Terry

    Of course, everyone knows that RL is a perfect example of paranoid, extreme right wing nut, moronic, imbecilic stupidity and psychotic craziness. Who gives the big "F" what the hell that obnoxious jerk says about anything in any area at any time?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  3. Abraham

    People actually listen to this fat sod? Perhaps it really is the end...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  4. aCriticalEye

    Althouth I'm come to despise the Catholic church and most of christianity over the last few years, it is mostly over the hypocrytes calling themselves christian. I despise the fight over birth control, when 95% of the female catholics use it.
    One thing has held constant over the years though, is my absolute abhorance of Rush Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  5. Jesse

    Who you gonna trust, Sarah Palin and Limbaugh or the Pope?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • M

      none of them

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  6. Alex

    Hasn't anyone clued in Limbaugh that Jesus was a socialist? "The meek shall inherit the Earth" "a camel will pass through the Eye of the Needle (a very narrow gate) before a rich man gets into heaven"

    December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Nightlyt

      They don't want to hear that sort of preaching. They want the gospel of prosperity. If they want to know why the US is in such dire shape all they have to do is look at the love for money, not people. That is the true downfall of America.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  7. Strategerist

    "The problem with capitalism is capitalists. The problem with socialism is socialism."

    December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  8. Jimmy

    Great news, the Catholic chuch will now be settinmg the example.
    They will sell off their valuable assests to help the poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  9. Robert Schoales

    They're both in the same business, fleecing their flocks.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  10. Rush Pope

    Thank god, we have Rush to call a spade a spade.

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

      We should nominate Rush for President. I know he can get the Republican nomination. You are right thank God for Rush.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  11. PoliSciGuy

    What's truly breathtaking here, of course, is that Rush Limbaugh has no earthly clue what Marxism is. Yes, he's adept at using the term as a pejorative, but he clearly has never studied or had a valid explanation of the fundamentals of Marxism. On the other hand, do we expect anything better from Rush Limbaugh?

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

      Is Marxism that difficult to understand? Take from the succssful and give to the unsucessful, by any and all means available, until the whole system collapses.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  12. Bill S.

    It sure beats making millions preaching hate and division. Is Rush on illegal drugs again? Anything to get a little attention. He is probably afraid that some of his many tax loopholes might eventually disappear if the general public ever discovers how little these super rich actually pay. Some guy on local radio said Rush is a little wimp in person with a handshake like a 3 year old girl. He is only brave in his guarded radio studio, with his call screeners to protect him from contact with real people and Google equipped staff to make him sound like an expert on everything to his followers who have trouble thinking for themselves. He gave them the right name – 'ditto heads'.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  13. George

    Do we really care?

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

    I am disowning my religion until this pope resigns. I will not be a member of a religion that is a communist preacher. Good by catholic church. No more money from me, since you hate money anyway.

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

      You do realize that this pope is actually following Jesus's principles, right? Give riches to the poor, shelter them, take care of them...those were all things that Jesus preached. It's about time the church got back to it's roots.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • radar8

      Yeah. How dare the Pope teach the preaching of Christ.
      You keep blindly following ignorant people like Rush. Most people tend to hang around with others like them. Stup[id is as stupid does.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • George

      Whatever. Since interesting the constant change of dogma depending on who is the Pope. Does the catholic church not have a consistence stance on anything? Why do you all attribute so much power to the pope? The pope should lead only on constancy, not by interpretation.

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

      you were clearly never a christian to begin with. typical god hating pervert.

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

      Please tell me you don't believe a hate-filled, self-centered, me-firster propagandizing radio announcer over a true holy man who recognizes the difference in political theories between "you're on your own" vs. "we're all in this together". As for me I believe in messages that are love-based..."heal the sick", "feed the hungry" "help those in need" and "always pray alone". As for me, I'll go with Jesus and not Rush Limbaugh.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Dan

      dont' worry about it... you're most likely headed to hell. Nothing will save you anyways.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  15. WW

    Let me think, do I listen to Rush or the Pope???????

    December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • RW

      Neither, you should listen to Jesus. The Pope is an anti-Christ.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  16. ME

    There's a difference between admonishing people to have a greater generosity for those less fortunate, and advocating a political system that is allowed to define, by law, the limits of individual wealth, and also define who gets that confiscated wealth.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • joeblowski

      well, the system you describe about limits to wealth is not marxism either. in a marxist regime there is no private property.

      am an so glad the antichristian perverts like limbaugh and palin are publicly making their break with the church. now we know what side they're on.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  17. Ehsan

    The moment GOP doesn't like what someone is saying, they simply stamp him Marxist, Socialist, Communist.. This tactic is getting so old that it is not even interesting anymore...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • radar8

      It worked for McCarthy. Rush may be an ignoramus, but he does know that hate sells. So he sells hate. Rush is a prime example of what's wrong with our society. MIllions of people see what Rush does as "making money", but all Rush is doing is sowing hate in our society and getting rich off of the trouble that he, and others like him, cause.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  18. djhead

    Rush Limbaugh is sad and wrong. The de facto head of the Republican party hates liberalism and now the pope. What a sad and hate filled man!! By the way Sarah Palin is the de facto Republican joke. They should put their heads together and make a rock pile.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  19. dragonfire0477

    HAHAHAHA!!!!!! Limbaugh thinks he's in some kind of position to criticize a sitting pope. Because he's such a great 'Christian'....right? OK, you can stop laughing now...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      the pope has a masters degree in fairy tales.

      rush is only an entertainer.

      who is better?

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

        The one with the message of love.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  20. Strategerist

    YouTube: Even..."Bono admits capitalism brings more out of poverty than government aid."

    December 2, 2013 at 2:09 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.