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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. Roy Batty

    Its been clear for many that the modern conservative movement is against the teachings of Jesus Christ. Now the leader of the biggest Christian church in the world has made that public. So what is it going to be angry conservatives christians, your politics or your souls?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • joycekho@aol.com

      The Christians who form the majority of the Republican Party are condoning what Limbaugh is saying.
      Are they really the authentic followers of Jesus? Makes you really wonder. That is the reason why many
      Christians outside the US are saying that they find US Christians different from the rest of the world.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  2. efsullyjr

    Rush Limbaugh is one, sick S.O.B.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  3. Dave

    Religion has failed us. Its time we evolve and move on. Rush and the Pope are just two flavors of blind faith.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  4. Joe

    I think Rush did all of us a big favor. By linking the pope with Marxism, this takes the sting out of having Obama, liberals, democrats, whatever, labeled as Marxists.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  5. Big_D

    Tell DennisFarrell@afrn.us to stop broadcasting hate to our soldiers. Tell Armed Forces Radio to drop Rush because we don't need treason in the Armed Forces Radio network.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  6. Jeff

    The last thing we need is this pope preaching socialism (socialism is a nice word for communism). Socialism will intimately hurt his catholic following...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Socialism is different to Communism – look it up.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Stenbolt

      No, socialism is not synonymous with communism. And anyone who knows anything about Christianity knows that some elements of Christian principles bear a resemblance to communism.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Adrian ROlando

        No, they're only synonymous to the teabaggers who toss them around as insults.

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

      This looks like a good place for a repeat-

      In fact ONLY capitalism produces wealth, because it has an incentive. Communism does not, because the incentive is to hoard your energies (since you will be paid the same anyway) and thus maybe live longer.

      Socialism is not about economics. It is more philosophy or even more about psychology: [Not how but] WHY generate wealth, what for? Rush and company espouse gluttony, maximum personal consumption. The Pope, not surprisingly, has loftier vision. I am an atheist, but I agree with the Pope-there is more to our existence than just eating everything we can.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  7. chris

    more proof that those who are very well off don't have a clue as to the TRUE teachings of jesus. yes, make your comments rush and spout your ignorance because his words ring true and worry you that people might start to see through the poison that is you and yours (the wealthy). you'd insult the maker himself if he came down and said as much as the pope has, yeah keep your ears closed and your head fat man, we don't need your approval...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  8. Jeff

    Rush Limbaugh's opinion of the pope isn't news.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  9. lejaune

    I hope this will alienate enough Catholics that Limbaugh will be out of the talk radio business.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  10. Jerry

    This is just more news laziness on the part of CNN – go chase some real news. Has any GOP official stated anything about this? That's news. What this gasbag says is not.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Thomas Williams

      Limbaugh is a GOP official. Remember when even the Republican Speaker of the House was forced to grovel and beg for public forgiveness from Rush Limbaugh? He is the GOP, and says the things they are just to afraid to say out loud.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  11. Hikertom

    Why would anyone care what that bigoted fat windbag has to say? (and I'm not referring to the Pope).

    December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Jim

      Because now it makes sense all he says about the Pope.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • Scott

        I thought all conservatives held a circle jerk for Jesus, Palin, and Limbaugh......now I'm confused. What is your circle jerk all about?? Can't be capitalism since the tea bagging frenzy? Lucy......you got some splainin to do!!!!

        December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  12. ES

    Lol, it is time for so-called Christians to realize that Christ himself was a communist in many of his teachings. This Pope is a brath of fresh air since he is actually following what Christ taught.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  13. t3chn0ph0b3

    Oh, come on!!! Belief Blog? This comment format is terrible for this kind of article. Lame!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Nomad

      The church does not pay taxes. Like Earl Butz said "You no playa da game, you no maka da rules"

      December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  14. Fish

    The Pope was correct about capitalism yet neglected to add the word unregulated to his statement. Capitalism is a wonderful economic system when regulated to maintain fairness!!! Unregulated it becomes anarchy dominating even itself, which is what we've experienced since deregulation of our markets. Just as if we eliminated all our traffic laws chaos ensues as people stray boldly going nowhere!!!! This is what Glass-Steagall provided from 1933-1999,stability by regulation!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • John

      In fact ONLY capitalism produces wealth, because it has an incentive. Communism does not, because the incentive is to hoard your energies (since you will be paid the same anyway) and thus maybe live longer.

      Socialism is not about economics. It is more philosophy or even more about psychology: WHY generate wealth, what for? Rush and company espouse gluttony, maximum personal consumption. The Pope, not surprisingly, has loftier vision. I am an atheist, but I agree with the Pope-there is more to our existence than just eating everything we can.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  15. John

    Go right on out and say it, Rush: Jesus Christ was a Marxist too.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • lol??

      Marx was lost. Yer thinkin' of his daddy who converted so he could keep practicin' law.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Scott

      No, he was a Socialist, which begs the question......why did the insane right claim him as theirs??? He'd hate the right more than death itself.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  16. Is the Pope REALLY Catholic?

    Gives new meaning to "Is the Pope Catholic?"

    New answer: I don't know!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • ed dugan

      If the pope is so charged up about wealth being in a few hands he should take a look at the vatican holdings. It's a case of one billionaire calling another out. I don't understand why anyone would comment since the pope is totally irrelevant to anything in the world. Maybe he should spend a little money getting rid of the pedophiles that seem so prevelant in his church. Anyway, we should know better than to trust a latino to make any sense. Their specialty is corruption.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  17. Unbelievable

    Got news for you Rush. Jesus was a bit of a communist, or didn't they teach that in your so-called Christian bible class?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • William Holzman

      You are right Rush. Those damn poor people are going for your money. The Pope thinks they deserve more recognition, and finding new solutions for dealing with them. Don't worry Rush, one day you will walk on water also, and when that happens, I will then believe that Jesus really does love cry babies.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • William Holzman

      You are right Rush. Those damn poor people are going for your money. The Pope thinks they deserve more recognition, and finding new solutions for dealing with them.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  18. martin

    Rush always, without exception will take the side of corporations over people; that's his job and that's why he makes millions. He can't let anybody, not even the Pope talk about doing things to help poor or middle class people.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  19. Really

    Rush is calling out Christ and Christian values. Go read a bible once, maybe, before you damn yourself to eternal burning.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Scott

      If this is the other choice....bring on the fing flames!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
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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.