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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. Ginger

    Rush is an idiot. How can helping the poor and requesting the wealthy to take part in caring for the poor as well as showing restraint be wrong? Rush is the devil with a very big mouth and a black soul.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • gager

      Using force is Marxist while voluntary donations to help is not. Voluntary exchange is the only ethical way to help the poor.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
      • ralph

        by that I guess you mean "don't raise my taxes tohelp anybody that;s poor" What a piece of rationalizing bs that is. Ethical might be stop lying to yourself

        December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  2. Anna

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

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  3. paul reynolds

    Are the Catholic Republicons going to PUT UP with this WartHOG Trashing your Leader..!???

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Jack 2

      What about you l;eader satan?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  4. Stuart Smalley

    Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot!...Because he's bad enough, he's dumb enough, and dog gonnit people hate hime

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  5. lol??

    Gubmints are fickle. Got anything to do with, "When in Rome do as the Romans do."?? Socialism has more than one flavor in top down mob rule.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Maddy

      It is obvious Rush doesn't know what "Marxism" is. It us equally obvious that you don't know what "socialism" is.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  6. re333

    Sad that anyone still listens to Rush .Shows how far the education in this country has fallen .

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Mike

      Both the Pope and Rush are jokes.

      Rush's only requirement for his job is to be loud and annoying.
      Pope's only requirement for his job is to be old and white.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  7. Ian

    If Rush had a clinical therapist, this would be critically important information for the therapist to have.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  8. irony

    I find it ironic that great men get their lives taken and yet no one has even punched Limbaugh yet.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  9. Dave

    What's amazing is that CNN is still in business considering its numbers against FOX. Well, we've had a Socialist for President the past 5 years and it looks like income inequality has taken a wider turn. The Pope has no business talking about matters that are best left to the free market and Libertarian thinkers who have the knowledge and insight which the Pope ostensibly lacks!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • betty

      Dave, the pope has every business commenting. Jesus was a liberal.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  10. paul reynolds

    The POPE..?
    Or – the Arrested, Drug Addict, ZERO Credentials, Messiah WartHOG who thinks He is now GOD

    – Which will the Republicon blind Followers Choose to believe..!???

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  11. dubw

    Rush is a a right wing idiot, has no basis except the drugs he takes to lala land.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  12. james

    The new Pope is surprising us all by reminding us what Jesus actually said and did. Rush follows a different sort of religion, based upon personal privilege, power, and money. No wonder he (and many other so-called Christians) are upset with a Pope who speaks about the core values presented by Jesus, long forgotten by the Catholic hierarchy.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • John

      So well said. Perfectly said.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Greg

      Agreed. Well said.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  13. Guest

    Rush criticizes the Pope because he dared blaspheme against a higher god than Jehovah: Capitalism.

    Didn't Christ say something about not being able to serve God and Mammon at the same time?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  14. xirume

    I'm 100% anti-religion but if I hat to choose between the Pope and that fat, bloated, drug-addicted piece of lying shìt Limbaugh, I'd choose Francis in a New York Minute.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  15. HBsushi

    Rush is basically a loud mouth. I cannot believe there are people that hang on his every word. He is just like Sarah Palin. They both make comments just to get reaction from the public only to promote themselves.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  16. thedoctor

    Classic Rush. His technique: Misstate your opponents' beliefs to such a ridiculous level that your position sounds almost reasonable.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  17. omeany

    No Rush, The Pope is preaching Christianity. Love thy neighbor, Feed my sheep, Render unto Ceasar the things that are Caesars do not agree with Capitalism but this does not make them Marxist, it just makes them Christian and you do not agree with it. This is fine Rush but please understand that a lot of people do.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  18. Terry Dupuy

    Whoa now.... Rush is a bit out of his league here. No radio talk show host should even think of taking on the Pope! The pontiff has more education in his pinky finger then Rush could ever dream of... Just because Rush has a gift of gab... does not qualify him to serious discussion regarding the Holy Father!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  19. Anna

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

    December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  20. cosmic debris

    Problem: Rush hasn't been in the headlines lately.
    Says something stupid and ignorant and inflammatory about the Pope.
    CNN splashes on front page.
    Problem fixed.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Inca Roads

      Well said.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:38 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.