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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. Chip Shirley

    The big hater Limbaugh has finally jumped the shark. Two weeks ago he was saying that 'Obama and Liberals follow...LUCIFER'. This has got to be stopped we need the FCC to restart the Fairness Doctrine. People like me should be able to respond to him on the public airwaves he speaks his hate on, before I get shot by one of his fans because of my bumper sticker!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  2. George

    Lol. Rush Limbaugh is the perfect example of Christianity let me tell you. Not so much. Capitalism does not meet the requirements of Christianity. No way, no how, and no where close. Christianity is about helping each other and doing for each other more then you do for yourself. Christianity is not about commanding as much as its about informing. Free Will, Jesus Christ died for mans sins. All sins are equal. Does any of this ring a bell. Telling people they can't be gay because its against Christianity is wrong. You can tell people its against the bible.but its their choice if they wish to sin. Jesus died for it. Now if your willing to stand up and say its wrong to be gay but not that its wrong to be greedy your just a hypocrite. Because biblically speaking being greedy is wrong. Its actually listed as one of the 7 deadly sins. Funny thing is Gay isn't one of those supposed 7 deadly sins. Sloth, Lust, Envy, Greed, Gluttony, Wrath and Pride. The seven cardinal sins. The book of Matthew even touches base with this issue. Verily shall a rich man enter the gates of heavan, it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle then for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven. Clearly written out. Unfortunately the Pope is barking up the wrong tree. We have gone to far and our lives are based sole on many of these Seven sins. As much as the Pope wants to preach the truth its to late. The people don't want the truth because it gets in the way of being envied and surrounded by lavish material items of which we live each moment of our lives for. Regardless if wrong was done to create such material items. Ignorance is bliss. I am with you 100% Pope but unfortunately society has gone to far and to turn and take it away will result in fewer and fewer Christians because of the love for money, image, perception, and greed. The need to be king and envied today means almost everything.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  3. gopersareignorant

    Limtùrd, leader of the limtùrd minions. Catholics will have fun with this one.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  4. John

    Honestly, I do hate to tell you Mr. Limbaugh, but if it was pure Marxism you'd know. Want to know how you'd know? Because chances are you'd end up dead or would have to flee the country.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  5. Griff

    Rush is back on the stuff again!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  6. Vic of New York

    You just got to love the bold faced hypocrisy at FOX News. Fox News' Stuart Varney, says: “I go to church to save my soul, It’s got nothing to do with my vote." So where is Varney when Coservatives call for laws to ban abortion, and gay marriage, and contraceptives from Obamacare? What a crock of C-R-A-P is the "CON " from the Right Wing. And Limberger (Limbaugh)? You got to love this miscreant. Thank you Rush, for helping to wake up Catholics from the sins of Republican Conservatism! Keep up the good work by knocking the Pope. God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost, appreciate what your mouth is doing to unite Catholics against the Right Wing "CON" your kind has been pulling on the public for years.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  7. James Glenn Turner Jr

    Jesus Christ demanded of each of us that we share with and assist those in need. However, no part of His teachings suggested the nonsense that governmental bodies should be placed in charge of wealth distribution. Indeed, the latter approach was the darling of liberal economists and philosophers of the late 1800's and early 1900's and spawned the broad experimentaion in socialism in multiple forms throughout the past century, the purist example if which was communism. It is surprising that Pope Francis apparently learned no lesson from the colossal failure of that effort in terms of criminalizing religion as well as impoverishing and eliminating the personal freedom of entire societies.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      In Jesus' time the "government" was not an extension of the people. In a modern democracy it is a natural way for society to deal the with sick and the poor. It is also self-interest to have a healthy and well-educated population since they will be more effective citizens and workers.
      The tea-party is effectively trying to negate government except for the parts THEY want. THEY forget we live in a democracy and that they represent far less than half the population of this country.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • spinster

        Really? So Jesus would be all on board with our government forcing everyone middle class and up to fork over another 20% for governmental redistribution. That is after taking their red tape cut of 20-30%. And then they get to decide what charity is a good one. Perhaps ACORN or Planned Parenthood is more deserving than the Salvation Army. Perhaps the Sierra Club is more deserving than St. Jude's. I am sure such decisions made on the part of the government would not be affected by politicking for influence or votes like so much of the current spending is. It would all be done above board and transparently. And ultimately, accountability and responsibility are casualties because people want to abdicate responsibility for their own obligations as Christ charged them- to the government. This is perhaps a great example of sloth. And evil...compelling others to pay for the charity they themselves are unwilling to sacrifice for.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Rascal262

          Do I still have to pay for your kids to go to school?

          December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  8. cheri martin

    Two wrongs: Rush resorting to name calling, as usual. Pope meddling in political affairs, as usual.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  9. paul reynolds

    Republicons Now Must Choose – The actual POPE

    or your Arrested, Drug Addicted, ZERO Credentials, WartHOG Messiah "LUSH" who now thinks He is GOD..!??

    December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  10. paul reynolds

    Republicons Now Must Choose – The actual POPE

    or your Arrested, Drug Addicted, ZERO Credentials, WartHOG Messiah "LUSH" who now thinks He is GOD..!????

    December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  11. Christian

    I met a Anglican Priest in late 2009. He had a PhD in Economics and had worked for a regional bank for most of his adult life until about 2005. He said Modern Christianity is going to have to come to terms with the teachings of the Bible and with economic system of Capitalism. He said the two have been married together for a long time in this Country. He said Socialism is not the answer, but Christians and the Church is going to have separate themselves eventually from the system. He wasn't advocating the Govt doing more, but he wanted Faith Orgs to do more. He felt Faith Orgs have become to intertwined with Capitalism they can't fully engage in their mission given by the Bible.

    I don't agree with this one way or another, but an interesting take from someone who has been exposed to both sides of the equation as Clergy and working in a Financial System...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  12. Donnie the Lion

    Rush just increased the percentage of some whacko offing him by 200%.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • GOP_R_Traitors

      Actually, I think it ups the possibility of the POPE being offed more, as he no longer has his pope-mobile. Rush is protected by armed body guards. I still would love to see a concerted effort to take down Rush. I always felt that the boil, known as Rush, needs to be lanced and the puss just allowed to run out into the gutters where his festering entrails belongs. If it means taking out of few capitalistic body guards then so be it. I hope someone has started a fund for this somewhere.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  13. havanaclipper

    HE is passing judgement on Pope Francis? Good grief! RL is such a pompous horse's ass. Its shameful he's still being paid to spew his hate. His time to be judged will come eventually.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • LB

      Wow. It's time this Limbaugh guy go the way of the dodo. How dare he so disrespectful!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  14. Ed F.

    Limbaugh is preaching pure hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  15. pat o'brien

    this little flare up is going to be fun to watch. We all know Rush is the grand wizard of the republican party but now we have a Pope who actually talks the talk and walks the walk of what it means to be a christian and a lot of right wing ideologues don't like it one bit...they actually felt they had cornered the market on God.....this will get very interesting.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  16. scarf

    I used to think it was hyperbole to refer to Limbaugh as the Anti-Christ, but now I'm seeing a lot of behavior on his part to support the contention.......

    December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  17. John

    Personally, I do think Rush would care for Jesus either.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  18. Desmond

    hate to put it so bluntly: This is not the first time that this Rush of Stupidity is not outdoing himself. Clearly he has not read the New Testament which, I think, he claims to preach. THE TRAGEDY OY THE USA IS THAT THIS IMBICILE APPEARS TO HAVE FIFTEEN MILLION LISTENERS.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  19. MCR

    Wait a sec, isn't Rush an entertainer who says outrageous things to get higher ratings?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  20. Howard

    comments from a drug addict.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:16 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.