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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
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(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. James/Call me Bill

    I will believe Pope Francis as genuine in his beliefs when he puts his money where his mouth is......start liquidating the enormous assets of his mother church and giving it ALL to the needy each and every year. Until then, he is just another mouthpiece spewing flawed logic

    December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Maddy

      Sigh. Want to buy a Pieta?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    So, calling for some thought and compassion makes you a Marxist? I guess Rushreally is that shallow. Had Rush's family been blue collar instead of lily-white lawyers, he would probably have a show on MSNBC.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Road Warrior 452

      I suspect that Rush has chosen his platform based on the opportunity for monetary success. For some reason, Liberal radio talk show hosts don't gather anywhere near the audiences that Conservatives do. Certainly, there are good and bad politics on both sides of the aisle. I am guessing that Rush's ability to cleverly dispatch his opponents (whether right or wrong) keeps him in business. I also think that he finds it easier to do with Liberals than Conservatives. Conservatives ( at least those on air) tend to hold to reasoned responses. Liberals(again, those allowed on air) tend to be less reasoned and more impassioned. Easier to twist someone emotionally than intellectually.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  3. Craig

    The Pope seems like a great and compassionate man. But I wouldn't expect him to know how to fix my car or do my taxes. And I don't think he knows anything about economics either. The most "equal" countries on earth are the poorest: Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea . . . I would rather be poor in American than poor anywhere else, and that is strictly because the free market allows us to help the poor in ways not possible in more "equal" countries.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • greg

      But Rush limbaugh is???? He is an uneducated drug addict who previously ran the "morning zoo' as a dj.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  4. Burbank

    I wish this nasty, hateful man would hurry up and croak. The world will be a much better place without him in it!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • martiniano

      He just became Pope! Give him a year or two at least!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  5. Richard Davis

    If Pope Francis is saying and doing the things that he thinks Jesus would have done, then that means that Jesus must have been a...no...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  6. oneSTARman

    I forgot that only LIMBAUGH is Infallible

    December 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  7. Arthur Paliden

    With any luck he will fracture the religious right.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • dpnelson

      because being fractured has been such a boon for Islam and the countries it rules.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Betty Murphy

      Yes! It's Lumbaugh's comments that are sad. laughable and unbelievable! He doesn't know what he's talking about. Hello, Rush, it was Jesus who said to leave everything behind and follow him. Christianity is a radical religion, if understood properly. It demands more of us than most people are willing to give.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  8. pm ohio

    The values of the GOP and the Values of Christians only cross paths because of the Conservative politicians saying they are anti-abortion. It is more of a convenience to lie get 20% of the vote, than what they actually believe. The core values of Christians match the values of the Liberals in about every other aspect. Rush Limbach's comments will be taken as gospel for the Right, but they truely illustrate the reason the GOP is in turmoil...the leaders need the Religious Right to win, but know they are being intellectually dishonest because their values do not match the Religious Right, except on the abortion issue, whhich will never go away because the GOP needs that 20% of voters who would otherwise vote Democrat becasue the Liberal values match Christian values more closely.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Reality Seeker

      PM Ohio, spoken like a true Yankee Liberal but as usual WRONG!!!!!! Let me make your lives easier for you as far as the Religion
      aspect goes. Number 1, NO GOD, NO Jesus. GOD and Jesus are as real as Santa Claus and Bigfoot.The Earth is Billions of years old and the Bible only goes back 5000 years. Its a proven fact by the most brillant brains on this Planet "their is no GOD".
      Religion is Man's greatest SHAM costing him everything and is responsible for the death's of Billions during History in the names of GOD and Jesus. THE ONLY REASON IS CONTINUES IS BECAUSE OF THE MONEY INVOLVED AND THE CASH CROP THAT IT HAS PRODUCED, SO KEEP ON BELIEVING SUCKAS!!!!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  9. Smeagel4T

    Stop worrying about it so much Rush. You and Satan will be getting along famously.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  10. mm

    Rush does not do a good job articulating his points. The Catholic Church has long hailed against communism and its teachings. The Church has always felt that economic injustice occurrs due to the lack of free markets worldwide as the world's most poor live in socialist countries. This Pope was expelled from his native Argentia by a communist ruler. He went to the mountains of north Argetntia and became a high school math teacher for several years. And it was John Paul II who traveled to Argentina to convince him to stay with the Church. It is well known that the Catholic Church despises communism and socialism as they supress Christian faith and expel Christ from socities. The economic system under to the two forms of government also enslaves the poeple to the government dole. Perhaps the Pope could have also reaffirmed those long held beliefs too. But to call the Pope a Marxist is absurd Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  11. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.

    FORCING PEOPLE TO GIVE UP WEALTH TO BE REDISTRIBUTED, BY FORCE.

    who come not one liberal will tell me how rush was wrong about this?????

    December 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Maddy

      No it doesn't and you repeating this lie makes you just as ignorant as Rush.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Smeagel4T

      Force? How? Using guns?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  12. jmt

    God ruined a perfect ass@#$% when he put teeth in Rush's mouth.....Shame on him!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  13. Arnold

    Pope Rules!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  14. Harald

    lol.....Is there anything Limbaugh doesn't do in order to catch media attention ?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Paul

      Couldn't agree more.The man is a human incendiary device. What an amazing talent!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  15. hahaman

    I am pretty sure Jesus is for free market capitalism.

    He never gives out freebies like breads and fishes

    December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      you do not see the differnece between personal charity and the governemtn taking your wealth by force?

      typcal fairy tale beleiver

      December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • hahaman

        but Jesus pay head taxes to the Romans also. Your point?

        December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
      • Marco

        "Taking your wealth by force" ~ You

        "It is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to gain entry to heaven" ~ Jesus

        What were you saying again? Yea...I thought so. SHUT UP.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  16. MartinAmerica

    Ahh, I found the reason this is a story...

    "CNN drew its lowest ratings in over a year last week, averaging just 385,000 total viewers and only 95,000 viewers in the coveted 25-to-54 demo - a miniscule viewership, even by cable news standards." Dylan Byers – Politico

    So who's trolling for a ratings boost?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  17. Tutuvabene

    I didn't know Limbaugh was an expert on Marxism.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • S.D. Fletcher

      Indeed Tutuvabene... maybe he's back on the oxycontin express and feeling empowered....

      December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  18. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.

    FORCING PEOPLE TO GIVE UP WEALTH TO BE REDISTRIBUTED, BY FORCE.

    explain believers in sky fairys how rush was wrong?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  19. stepren

    Remember Rush...The Catholic God is a vengeful God. You'll probably get struck by lightening or die of a drug overdose.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  20. PHoenix05

    The Pope really? Rush must have fell back on the drugs again.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:11 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.