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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. Reality # 2

    Two misguided humans trying to explain their versions of Christianity but both grossly erroneous theologically and historically so why bother listening to either one??????

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

      Agreed.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Fred Shuckleman

      Rush is right, the Pope's wrong: capitalism shouldn't be managed or controlled by the government.

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

        Oh Jeezus you amnesia plagued bone head, we had no guvmint oversight of capitalism. It is now known as the Bush Melt Down, the Bush EconDisaster, the Bush Housing Bubble, etc. How f_king stew pid are you T tard More Ons?

        December 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  2. Joe

    I didn't know that calling the practice of greed (by any economic philosophy) a sin was Marxism. WHO Knew?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  3. rufus floyd

    I may become a Catholic if it will drive this crazy idiot even crazier.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  4. lroy

    As a life long shopper, I thrive on commercialism (sometimes too much), However, as a devout Catholic, I must abide by what the pope says whether I agree or not-that's just the way it is. It is not the amount (or lack of) money is the problem but how that money is misused is the problem.

    Funny, a few months ago, EVERYONE like him, now he's on some people's sht list.

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

      In other words you are a mindless follower – if you followed Christ you would notice what he said about anti-Christs and the Pharisees and Scribes.

      The Catholic hierarchy is nothing more than the modern day Scribes and Pharisees. Not endorsed by God and abandoned by him due to their betrayal.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  5. Big_D

    Tell Armed Forces Radio we don't need our troops listening to a treasonous drug addict that says they purposely let Benghazi fall. DennisFarrell@afrn.us is the program director, let him hear it!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  6. Carlos

    The fact that Rush Limbaugh disapproves of the Pope should be a source of both great joy and immense pride for the pontiff – should he have any idea of who Limbaugh is or give a hoot about his opinions if he's aware of the radio talk host's existence. Having Limbaugh criticize Francis validates the leader of the Catholic church's status as a human being.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  7. NEASTSIDER

    Limbow has always worshipped at the altar of greed and unfettered capitalism. , His godless religion is what the baggers in congress vowed to preserve and protect and that’s the sacred cow of unlimited tax breaks for the 1% and the corporations. Why else would the Koch Bros fight so hard to destroy government and any thought of giving the middle class a chance?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • mirageseekr

      Rush is only concerned with himself, he believes his word is the gospel. Personally I think he should start popping pills again and shut up.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  8. Jeff6187

    Why does Limbaugh do more Pontificating than the Pontif? Envy? Ego? Ratings? Rush you can't even comprehend this man and his character. You're best strategy is to just shut up and learn. This man does more to improve the quality of life for people all over the world in one day than you'd ever dream of in a life time. While you're smuggling Viagra across borders, he's raising the bar for human integrity and behavior. Even his ratings trump yours ... by billions.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  9. dodiny

    Mr. Limbaugh. Here's something to try. Read the Bible. Christ spoke of one single topic more than any other. That topic was of caring for and remembering the poor. More than any other topic, that is what he spoke of. The Pope's comments are Christian, not Marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  10. Wow

    So called Christian conservatives would be deeply dismayed if they were to ever study the early church.

    For the first few hundred years, starting with the direct followers of Jesus were absolutely Socialists.

    What Francis is saying is tame in comparison.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  11. Tamalak

    Why the heck is CNN parroting an entertainment show as their headline??

    THIS JUST IN: TYRION LANNISTER TELLS A FUNNY JOKE.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Nordique

      Is that the one about him walking into a brothel with a donkey, and a honeycomb.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • DN

      You don't think this news befits the faith page of CNN.com? A prominent conservative pundit is decrying what the Pope has said. Many, many Republicans follow both voices, and this new brings that into conflict.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  12. dkc2001

    Even the Pope wouldn't forgive that fat lying bag of crap.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Stenbolt

      Sure he would. Well, maybe he would. At least he would stand the greatest chance of any mortal to do so.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  13. OwMySkull

    I think that the unjolly fat man needs to crack open a dictionary and find out what "Marxist" means.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  14. Rush ismy buddy

    Rush and Sara for 2016.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • TSteadman

      Heading up the National Socialist ticket ?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Stenbolt

        Well played.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • TELLINGITLIKEISEEIT

      Poor, poor, T-baggers, who are trying so hard to get their feet in the door of the White House come 2016. Unfortunately, the majority of you lack education and common senses to make a difference in this nation. Palin lacks education and the other is full of HOT AIR!! Oh, don't forget Senator Cruz; if there's a Marxist he's it!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  15. HUteP66

    I am Catholic, and I like many things I hear from Pope Francis, but I am concerned by the way the roll out of the Evangelli Gaudium took place. If the Catholic Church is going to call capitalists out on the "idolatry of money" it should be setting the example. There is plenty of wealth hidden within the walls of the Vatican that could be put to better use serving the poor. But there it sits, guarded.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Stenbolt

      I would suggest that it's easier to say than do. Which is not to say that Francis doesn't have a plan to use the Vatican's vast wealth to help the poor and disenfranchised. But it likely takes less time to write an encyclical than to set up the machinery to do what you're suggesting. For all we know, "Evangelii Gaudium" may have been written to telegrapgh his intentions.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  16. Eric

    Too bad the conservatards will hear this and immediately forget their years of religious abortion heckling, gay bashing, and downright hatred of anything brown. They will now call liberals "God loving heathens" and they will be the "patriotic aetheists of America" and vote in WONDERFUL politicians like one of the Trumps or some other brainless hack to shutdown the government and ruin America. Thank you GOP, Teaparty, and republicans in general for putting the entire country against itself in order to destroy America.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  17. RebelTexasIndependent

    .......and Rush Limbaugh is preaching pure Stupidity (and has been for years). If you ignore him long enough, he'll go away....

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  18. SearingTruth

    "Perhaps profit should be the least of our concern.

    And humanity the most."
    SearingTruth

    A Future of the Brave

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  19. Old White Consevative

    The Vatican itself is worth $10 billion to $15 billion. Where’s that "share the wealth" when it comes to your own money? Thought so.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  20. Angy

    Proverbs 28:25 A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.

    James 5:1-6 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. ...

    rush needs to read his bible.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:39 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.