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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. Caccer

    Oxycotin is bad for the brain.

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

    Hasn't this lying blowhard been cancelled yet?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  3. motoxdoc

    I find it strange that Limbaugh is still a talking head for the republican's while they are trying to change their image to attract independents and generally rationally thinking people!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  4. mbane

    I've always said that you can't be Republican and Christian. The two do not mix – they are very opposite views.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Shelia

      hmm flat out lie do you really believe heaven i going to be equal you better read your bible again..

      December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
      • Willard Throckmorton

        It would be helpful if you wrote your response in English. That said, the Pope is right and Rush is an idiot.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Kevo

      Explain your statement in detail or I call BS.....

      December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • John

      Your other detractors here are on target. I am an atheist very well-versed in scripture, and there is SPECIFICALLY an equality in heaven. Go back to your pipe and be quiet now.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  5. Matt

    The real question, then, Rush...is what are YOU preaching? I think the Pope is doing many wonderful things for so many. What are you doing and preaching? Rush, Rush, Rush...is everything merely politics to you?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  6. lol??

    So much hate from the libs and of course their LUV for the pope. He's gubmint, ya know.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Chris

      Rather be a lib than a con like Dimbaugh and anyone who believes that clown. Isn't that abbreviation so fitting for Republiclowns.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  7. ptw

    As comedians like Bill Maher and others have said over the years (especially recent years): US conservatives would HATE Jesus if he were a real person in the world today.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  8. Jacob

    If one wants to remain dead ... then listen to Rush Limbaugh.... He'll guarantee you never seeing the light again!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  9. Paul the Usurper

    Rush Limburger calling out the Pope is like Satan calling out Lucifer. He has dog doo doo in his conservative brain. Why isn't he dumb, deaf and blind. Totally cut off from the world and living on his own Hell inside his head?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  10. Mike

    Limbaugh is in dire need of a Scrooge-past-present-future experience to clear out all that venom, bigotry, and arrogance

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Scrooge was a proper capitalist in the beginning.
      He maximized and hoarded his own profits while leaving his workers desti/tute adn without medical insurance for their crippled dependents.
      Those pinko ghosts turned him into a commie!.
      Joe McCarthy would've had Ebenezer black-listed.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  11. sue

    Poor little fat pain pill addicted Rush needs to be more respectful of the Holy Father. It's time he was released from his media contracts. He is just a loud mouth. He is uneducated

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  12. smc

    Yeah, as far as today's Republicans are concerned Reagan was a Marxist as well.

    It may take another 15-20 years before the tents come down, but we're witnessing the end of the "Grand Old Party".

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  13. garymac

    Pure racism as usual...and the republican party supports this moron...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Kevo

      From my understanding the Pope is white. What the hell are you talking about "racism". LOL

      December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  14. rcj112

    Maybe Rush will get struck by lightening. We can only hope.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  15. Melissa

    Limbaugh is nuts.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Smuckers

      Whether you love him or hate him, Rushman is very very wealthy, talented, and successful. I will bet you take a homeless guy who has no talent and no success; his opinion if he can be successful like Rush, is nil. I can understand why Rush is against Marxism, as it would break his wealth. A poor person who is talentless, I certainly can understand their point,because they would get at least some pennies if they were Marxist, otherwise they get nothing (welfare? HA, HA).

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

    "When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why people are hungry, they call me a Communist." ~ Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  17. Former Radio Talk Guy

    Why is ANYONE listening to that unfunny buffoon? He used to have a sense of humor, now he sounds like some wind-bag who gets out of bed on the wrong side every day. He's now rich, drugged with what he thinks is "power" and is taking on the Pope?

    Rush, nobody will remember you five years after you are gone, just Like Joe Pyne, Morton Downey and whole host of other yelling fools only in it for the money. And as soon as conservative talk fails to attract enough listeners and make money, the dear folks who now run radio will show you the door without shedding a tear. Where is Jean Shepherd, Cousin Brucie and Herb Oscar Anderson when we need them??

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Maddy

      Morton Downey. Mr. Pablum. Yep.

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

      Taking on the Pope? Commenting on what "Obviously the pope knows nothing about" is fair and logical, except for your stupid statement.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  18. tom

    Jesus chased the money lenders from the Temple. I guess he must have been a Marxist too.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Craig

      Let's try to stick to the truth, as Jesus would advise us to. The Pope wasn't talking about money in the Temple. 1.5 billion people have been brought out of abject desperate poverty in the past 15 years in China and India due to one thing: adoption of free market principles. You can claim concern for inequality, but socialism is a failure at doing anything but making everyone poor (see Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea . . .)

      December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Craig

      Jesus was talking about doing business in the Temple. Jesus did not say we should like when we make comments on the CNN website – the Pope was not talking about the Temple. In the past 15 years, 1.5 billion people have been lifted out of abject desperate poverty in China and India by one thing: the adoption of free market principles. Meanwhile, socialism has been proven to do nothing but drag everyone into poverty in Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, etc. I don't think the Pope ever studied economics.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Kevo

      Your comparison is non sequitur. Nice try though.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  19. Jacob

    Heil Rush Limbaugh.....!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  20. Bob

    Go!! good pills and crack. Ass mouth. May god bless you! Crack head in a can. Lol

    December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Kevo

      If what you posted was to prove the kind of libs that believe in socialism, you made your point very clear.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:05 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.