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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. Big_D

    We all know that Jesus would be the "nappy headed" type of person Rush doesn't like anyway.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  2. Leslie

    Rush Limbaugh has just given TIME magazine more reason to install Pope Francis as its Man of the Year.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  3. Wes

    Mr Rush DUMBaugh this is called Christianity.....

    December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  4. Rlm

    Early Christians shared what they had. I guess Limbaugh thinks of Christ as a communist. Getting Lmbaugh to heaven will be like a camel going through a needle or in his case and elephant.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  5. KrjMc

    Rush is never going to get it is he? Of course the Pope advocates for fairness and equality and he is right that the capitalistic system is immoral. But since Rush is unable to see, or understand, what is moral or immoral we expect him to give advise, as he often does, off the cuff with little thought, education, or compassion, put into it. Rush is just like the other conservatives blame the poor for being poor, cut off all services, open up more prisons to house the starving who commit petty crimes against the rich, and allow the wealthy to continue getting far more than they deserve on the backs of the working class.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  6. steve-0

    It's the deep end Rush–you fell off long ago...didn't the psycho wing tell you?

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

    Rush is a clown who profits and feeds his insatiable ego by using his intelligence to pander to basest and most hateful predilections of his ignorant listeners. It is sad for America that this drug abusing serial groom can get any air time at all, let alone be held up as an articulate spokesman for the GOP and the Right.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • lol??

      Ego is an unproven theory sucked up by socies.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • Jon

        And Rush Limbaugh's having intelligence is an already disproved theory.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  8. David

    I am a Republican, Rush is a Fascist and an ignorant one at that. Stop giving him a platform to express his far Right Genghis Kahn like beliefs. He thrives on it.

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

      Far right is not fascism. Fascism is a form of socialism.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • Big_D

        School failed you. I can see why you are bitter at government.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • CoolCMo

        No. Fascism is characterized by the state or its proxy suppressing all dissent. Sort of like what the far right wing in America wishes to do. Socialism is a economic system wherein the means of production are owned by all people equally and their is no clear individual to blame for failure or reward for success. Some socialist countries behaved in a fascist manner, but to be honest they really weren't socialist countries so much as oligarchies.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • southerngent

          so·cial·ism [ s shə lìzəm ]1. political system of communal ownership: a political theory or system in which the means of production and distribution are controlled by the people and operated according to equity and fairness rather than market principles 2. movement based on socialism: a political movement based on principles of socialism, typically advocating an end to private property and to the exploitation of workers 3. stage between capitalism and communism: in Marxist theory, the stage after the proletarian revolution when a society is changing from capitalism to communism, marked by pay distributed according to work done rather than need.

          Maybe this will help you understand obamacare, I noticed you use only part of the definition.

          You answer a knock on your door and a government official ask if you have a 12 year old at home.

          Yes, you tell him.

          Then in a strong firm voice the official exclaims you must buy car insurance now or face a penalty that will increase every year.

          You say but he/she doesn't need insurance now.

          The official then tells you, but he/she will need it sometime and you must buy it now so we can use your money provide car insurance to a person old enough to drive and who bought a really nice car but can't afford insurance.

          By the way, the IRS is the regulatory agency of this program and um how well do maintain your tax information the official ask (in a low tone).

          No wanting any trouble you say OK but I need time to decide what he/she will need.

          The official then said, you don't understand, the president has already decided what you need. You only have 2 choices, reasonable deductibles but with full coverage and a 100 million dollar liability clause at 3 to 4 times normal cost, or you can select our best selling plan of extremely high deductibles still full coverage and a 90 million dollar liability clause all for the low price of just 1.5 to 2 times the normal cost.

          What will you do?

          No matter what you do obamacare is socialism.

          December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • southerngent

      Prove him wrong or join the left!

      Is capitalism wrong or not? It is not possible in any society to provide every need to every person. Personally , though I am at the lower end of middle class, I earned what I have and proud of what I have. There is only so much that can be taken away and America is reaching the saturation point..

      To force all people into a program ( intentionally designed to share the wealth ), and under the threat of penalty and possible jail time is wrong, and against the American people.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  9. dragonfire0477

    One old man who's dedicated his life to helping others, and preaching a message of tolerance and love....or an old, fat drug addict who's dedicated his life to frightening and insulting other people to enrich himself so he can be even meaner and crueler to other people.

    Who are YOU going to listen to?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  10. Richard T.

    Yes indeed. Jesus was a revolutionary socialist.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  11. wildmangreen

    rush limbaugh is a tub of garbage.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  12. bubba jack

    the really disturbing thing is that 15 million fools listen to this ass

    December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  13. Mete Krop

    I am sorry for the ignorance of Mr. Rash Limbaugh. He doesn't know what he is talking about. sorry again.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  14. DK72

    So essentially, Rush is once again wrong, and spouting off whatever crosses his drug-addled mind before checking for accuracy.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  15. Blasphemy in his name

    When Jesus returns, I'm sure Rush would call him a socialist too. If Christians learned anything about the life of Jesus, it was not about being materialistic. How many times did Jesus help others in need or those that were considered outcasts of society? I don't know where some of these religions got the idea that God wants you to make the most money you can, so you can give it to the church – to keep them living the high life. This includes the Catholic Church.

    Rush talks about Francis's up brining in Argentina – forgetting that the Catholic Church has long been a sanctuary from political-economic ideologies such as socialism or capitalism.

    It would be refreshing to see Pope Francis sell of the riches of the church to help more of the poor and hungry of the world.
    When talking heads like Palin and Rush start criticizing the Pope, he must be doing something right.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  16. Den Hunter

    May we all remember that Rush Limbaugh dodged the draft because he had a butt pimple...pardon me. A butt CYST...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  17. boger

    Thank you Rush Limbaugh!!! It's about time someone stood up to this do-gooder Pope, and thank you for championing what really matters... Money! Screw the poor and sick. Fight to take away health care for them, because the only thing better than an oppressed poor person is a dead poor person. I applaud you for standing up for the REAL core values of the Republican Party. It sickens me how a lot of Republicans pretend to care about the poor and minorities, when nothing matters more than MONEY, sweet wonderful MONEY. Your words are a breath of fresh air in this stench filled country (the poor are very dirty too...). Thank you again, and may your words of true Republicanism reach the ears of all so they will know that the petty lives of the poor are completely valueless, and if ANYTHING comes between the GOP and a slightly higher return on investments, you will be there to fight for the already fabulously wealthy!!!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  18. glenn

    this is another non news event ... why do the networks continue to report what this idiot has to say ... this comes from the mind set of "If it's white ... it's right". Therefore having a black president or a pope that comes from south america (non-white) something must be wrong ... it's the end of days ... Rush and his cheeseheads must run for the his and protect the women folk.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • dragonfire0477

      Rush Limbaugh dictates over half of the Republican National Committee's platform. THAT'S why the old, fat drug addict matters. He tells all the members of the GOP what to think....and they listen.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  19. Big_D

    Maybe we should nationalize our oil industry and seize the billionaires money so Rush can get a look at real Marxism. Lord knows we shouldn't be paying over 3 dollars a gallon while Oil costs the same as when gas was 1.50.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  20. Jack 2

    The pope is not god and is just a man.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • DK72

      That is true Jack 2, but it doesn't make Rush's statement any less stupid.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:27 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.