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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. Larry38363

    Who cares what this extremist right wing bozo has to say about anyone? He's just a main stream oxycontin drugee absorbed in his own self importance. The sooner he overdoses and goes away the better.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • lol??

      More prisons??

      December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  2. Emma Morrow

    No one has proven Rush is wrong, they just exhibit their hate.

    The Left blinds themselves in their Hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Rebbe Bupkis

      When you can demonstrate that Rush is following the example of Jesus and the Pope is not, I'll start listening.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Smuckers

      Rush has talent and great wealth. Take a poor person that has neither talent nor wealth. They would likely be jealous of the gifts Rush has. And there is nothing they can do about it, because talent is inborn.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
      • Missy

        LOL – you are delusional....

        December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Brian

      well i don't hate rush. Nor am I catholic. but what Rush said was ignorance on many levels. I do not believe Rush knows what "marxism" means, it is a label he uses for anything not capitalist or of benefit to himself.

      First, the article here only speaks of the Pope basically wanting what was instructed in the New Testament. For reference, I cite: Matt 19:24, Acts 4:32 and in some regard Matt 25:31-46.

      If you are not a Christian, but are world focused, then the philosophy or Rush is probably sound to you. If you believe in God, believe in spiritual things... then his philosophy is illogical to you. Rush's premise is interesting because while he doesn't believe the natural world is running out of fossil fuel etc (limitation) he is very scared of limited wealth. He is concerned he will loose "all he worked for." He is scared, and that fear creates anger and hate. But if he was a believer in God he would know that he (rush) has not gained anything by his works. That God would provide.

      I'm not saying that's the correct world view, but I am saying Rush is a living contradiction. He doesn't believe in natural loss of fossil fuels, ozone... yet he is worried about limited cash flow. He doesn't believe God will provide (or he wouldn't be concerned, worried and scared) but he claims to be a believer in God. He claims he is for family values, yet he doesn't live it.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  3. Jason Markowitz

    Jesus was a socialist. FACT.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • truth

      Fool

      December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  4. Michael Sierra

    My first thought about this is, of course, is that Rush is a bloviating idiot as usual. However, it is quite obvious from the pope's remarks that economics is not taught in seminaries. And this isn't Marxism but socialism that he's professing; neither of which serves the most people the best.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Rebbe Bupkis

      I'm pretty sure the Pope is following the economic model of Jesus, not Rush.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  5. TommyD

    Pope is appealing to the masses....poor ones. They can easily go the muslim way, which is happening...this is a marketing grab.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      No, Pope is just saying what Jesus said in the Four Gospels, applied to Modern Times.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • DA

      The very rich are driving them there. Revolution is sometimes a cleansing process.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  6. acbolt

    Does anyone even pay attention to what the Pope says? Other than the fact that religion and government shouldn't mix, who actually thinks a religous leader has a clue about economics anyway? This gave me a good laugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Bhawk

      The pope is chosen by God via the Cardinals. How can Rush deny God's choice and ways. He is denouncing the Church and its beliefs.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  7. Bhawk

    God is a communist, Rush worships money, the words of the Christ are to be replaced with the Blue Book and Adam Smith. Finally out in the open.,

    December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • truth

      Fool

      December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  8. Stevo

    - "dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong"-this comment sums up poor Rush Limbaugh in a nutshell...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.

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

      how was he wrong???

      December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • Dave

        By fprce? How? You still haven't answered the question (or, perhaps you can't).

        December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
        • Dave

          sorry for the typo "force"

          December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  9. truth

    God looks upon Catholicism and says: what is this? I did not established this?

    Catholicism is a man-made religion basing salvation on good works. .dry dessert religion.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  10. Claire

    I cannot believe this is the 'headline' story on your site! This is really the big news CNN needed to put front and center – not Obamacare – not Iran – not this morning's train wreck. Wow, your liberal bias never ceases to amaze...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  11. Curtis Hall

    What a mouthpiece! Someone should poke a hole in that gasbag & watch it spiral off into the atmosphere.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  12. Steven Harnack

    Why is anyone even giving air to this bloated gasbag? I despise religion but I despise this self appointed King of the Know Nothings even more. Along with the long list of things that he knows nothing about we can now add Marxism and Christianity.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Ghung

      Perhaps a billion more people listen to the Pope than listen to Limbaugh. Pretty much says it all. Pope Francis is way above Ruh's pay grade. Rush doesn't even qualify as a pesky little mongrel dog nipping at the Pope's heels.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Paul

      That's so true Rush proudly displays his ignorance when calling the Pope Marxist when the Catholic Church is staunchly against Marxism and its secular ideology. He also shows his ignorance of Evangelical Christianity every time he acts as the mouthpiece and spiritual father of the tea party and spouts off capitalist BS as coming from the Bible. Maybe his Christian followers should spend a little less time listening to him on the radio and listen more to what is actually pertinent to their faith in the Bible. The only thing more foolish than himself and his empty message is blindly listening to what he has to say. He's just mad that the Catholic-Evangelical political alliance between ultra-conservatives is not as strong these days in the US.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  13. Vusani

    Classic. Trolling the Pope. Must be some serious ratings dip for Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  14. Mercury

    For those who prefer their truth "with a twist:"

    Rush Limbaugh - "telling the big lie often enough."

    December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  15. Regnad Kcin

    Right, like Limbaugh has his finger on the pulse of compassion and humanity.

    What a moron.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  16. colleen

    THe pope has the right to say whatever he wants. He had a DUTY to preach charity. And if people don't want to do do what he says, fine, that's their choice. What does it say though that Rush makes the frontage for his erroneous presentation of economic systems rather than the pope who preaches charity. Marxism and communism and socialism are not the same thing. Don't rant against what you don't understand. And socialism works quite well in some European countries, so does universal healthcare.
    And it is easy to say I would rather be poor in America when you are not or on any poor anywhere for that matter. And anyone writing up here who has a computer an internet clearly doesn't qualify.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.

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

      how was rush wrong?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • Mark

        Another poster hiding behind a fake name. Why should you have any crediblity with posting from a fake name ?

        December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • musicalviolin

        I don't get why he's so scared of Marxism or fast to denounce it. Let him keep talking though, I'd love to see him talk himself into a hole he won't be able to get out of! 😛

        December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • Pound Sand

          Perhaps you should read a bit of history regarding Marxism, Communism and Socialism. Hundreds of millions of people have died and suffered under the false argument of 'collective good'.

          December 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Webhoncho

      The article mentions Rush is not a Catholic. Of course not! In fact, it's surprising Rush doesn't burst into flames when he drives by a church or other house of worship. Rush's drug addled brain can't keep up with his mouth.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
      • Missy

        I can't stop laughing - good one!

        December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  17. Pat

    If that bloated buffoon, Rush Limbaugh, says that the Pope's words make him a Marxist, then sign me up. I'd rather be a Marxist than a greedy, corporatist elite, fascist racist like Rush is.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  18. MikeOnABike

    This is the natural cycle of civilization.

    It breaks itself free from the ties of bondage, finds new found freedom, prospers in it until it is realized that some people do better than others. Then, the "others" rise up and pull the successful back into bondage.

    Misery loves company. Civilization can only last until the majority is miserable, and then in breaks down into tyranny and bondage.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Steven Harnack

      Wow, is that a Rushism, or maybe a Beckism? Where is your blackboard? Of course you can't find even one example of this cycle to point to so your board would be sort of blank, but it has all of sound of pseudo authority that is the hallmark of the Know Nothings. Maybe one of those guys is looking for a writer for their show?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  19. Citizen

    Limbaugh had condemned illegal drug use on his television program, stating that "Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country... And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up." (copied quote)
    Rush, put your freedom where your mouth is.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Mark

      Limbaugh is hardly the speaker for 'moral authority' .... a illegal drug user and 4th time married baffoon.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • Lemon Talks

        as a christian do you not forgive?

        judging others is a sin

        December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
        • A. Goodwin

          Yet you are here judging the Pope.

          Hypocritical – I think so...

          December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
        • Steven Harnack

          And which commandment is that? Or do you get to just make up what is a sin as you go? In that case, willful stupidity is the greatest sin of all, so you you should be doing Hail Marys until your lips fall off.

          December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  20. Anbesaw

    Whata contrast picture of a Devil (Rush) and a Saint!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:27 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.