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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. 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 3:31 pm |
  2. Nathan

    Anyone surprised at a moron like Limbaugh being upset at statements made by the Pope who advacates for the poor. This was not a political statement but a statement about how the poor are left behind. If political doctrine is the reason how do you address the concerns of the poor without stating the reasons.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:31 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 rrush wrong????

      December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  3. Counter_stream

    Those of you who think the Pope is right...are you ready to sell your house, liquidate your 401K and give to the poor? Let's see it. Even if you do, what do they do next week when they are done with their loaf of bread? Capitalism builds factory so they can earn a living. May be it is not to American standard of wages, but that's how it starts.

    Walmart is exploding because all of you shop there. Why, because the price is good....how do they make price so attractive? Because they manufacture in Asia where wages are much cheaper. I suppose the Pope would call that exploitation. Those same factory workers would have to sell their bodies if they didn't have a factory job. Their kids will be better off and can afford to go to school because there is steady jobs available. Why is this bad.

    From reading all the comments, I really fear for this country. Instead of a country of innovation and pro-capitalism, all I see are folks who don't understand the benefits of capitalism. We will take over by China someday.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  4. limbaugh_vicodin_onhigh

    the pope has a point about capitalism. it's capitalism that keeps morons like limbaugh employed. morons buy morons, so i suppose there's an indictment on american culture and education too. i hope the fat bigot od's already, and no i don't feel bad about saying that.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  5. RA

    I don't know that he's spreading Marxism, but he's making some pretty radical left turns from scripture.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  6. Patricia

    It's called giving back, Rush. Something of which you know nothing about apparently. The Pope is not calling for a redistribution of wealth because if that were true, the Vatican would have to release millions of their own funds. He's reminding those who are most fortunate that giving to those less fortunate can be a virtue. Something else of which you would know nothing about.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • The Truth Hath No Secrets

      And what is wrong with the vatican releasing their own funds?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  7. Tigerflower

    Pope=10, Limbaugh=0

    December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • lol??

      Dialectical karma??

      December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  8. liz

    Rush Limbaugh wouldn't recognize a communist if Karl Marx hit him over the head with one.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  9. LivinginVA

    If he thinks the Pope is Marxist, he ought to read what Jesus said.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Roger

      One of the best responses I've seen. Thank you.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Debbie

      Limbaugh is so far off the beaten path. He's not the authority he wants others to believe he is!

      December 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Lloyd

      And what if Jesus really meant all that stuff. Jesus was very radical. We have really watered him down & tried to make him more like us. We need to read what he said and take it seriously. It would impact the global economy and distribution of food. Read Jesus' description of the Judgment Scene – Matthew 25:31-46

      December 4, 2013 at 9:21 am |
      • Monk

        watered down? Not the ones actually doing and Following his example on earth..the ones who try to reach you in every country on earth daily..You have to Have the truth about the kingdom and all speak in agreement to preach it.. only one Group does this..and has been since the beginning of the LAST DAYS

        1st cor.1.10
        10 Now I exhort YOU, brothers, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that YOU should all speak in agreement, and that there should not be divisions among YOU, but that YOU may be fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought

        math 24:14 And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.

        Dan 2:44

        44 “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite

        math 28:19

        19 Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded YOU. And, look! I am with YOU all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”

        watered down? Not By the ones who have the truth...

        December 4, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  10. mojo

    Maybe if Rush devoted his life to helping the poor instead of just talking, he would have a better idea of where the Pope is coming from.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  11. So sad

    Let's review Rush vs the 7 deadly sins... Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride. He's nailed 6 of the 7. In his deal with the devil he is cursed with having to spew hatred as he desperately seeks attention. It must be sad for him to wake up and face the day. I hope the Pope says a prayer for him.

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

      Just curious – which one hasn't he done?

      December 4, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  12. Doofus Johnson

    The headline is unnecessarily inflammatory here, focusing on the word "Marxism," which is admittedly a firebrand word, instead of the content of what Limbaugh said, which is largely correct.

    People spend way too much effort throwing around labels and pretending to be offended by them, and not nearly enough time discussing substance, like whether the poor people of the world would be better off or worse off under a collectivist system.

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

      There is a big difference between communism and a system that tries to elevate the poor instead of elevate the rich. The Pope is just pointing out one of the current forms of government is more focused on a philosophy that essentially goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you drop all the labels of Capitalism, Communism, Marxism, etc.... what it boils down too is why don't we try and help our fellow man?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Penel9

      I agree. Rush is an inflammatory troll but scares me the influence he has over crazy, elitist Republicans. And while I respect some of the Pope's stances, it does scare me the influences he casts over the millions of poor, uneducated and desperate. I do not much pay attention to Rush or the Pope beyond that. I'm a moderate Republican and a Methodist.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • John

      I took the time to read what Rush actually said on his website (rushlimbaugh.com). He is having a hard time believing what Pope Francis is saying and is wondering if liberals are misquoting him. Rush also spoke about how Pope John Paul was anti-communist. Then, Rush completely ripped communism, socialism, marxism, and liberalism. Rush believes that the best way to help the poor is to help them find work. The more people work, the less dependent they become to the false god of government. To Pope Francis' credit, I believe that he was speaking out against excessive consumerism and the love of money over God; both of which are clearly sins.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  13. lol??

    Banana republic, when the military act like powice and the powice act like military. How'd dey do dat??

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

      Are you capable of making an informed remark?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
      • lol??

        midwest rail, keep tryin'.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  14. Sarcastro

    I'm so sick of the Catholic church turning it's back on Jesus' message of winner-take-all capitalism.

    Jesus was a brutal SOB.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      That's why he was left hanging on a cross ? Because he spouted a Winner-Take-All Message. His fellow Hebrew Pharisees & the Roman didn't like his Message or It's effect on the public.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Rick

      Right on! Heaven is filled more with guys like Rush than the Pope.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  15. Anna

    .
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeedE8vH1FQ&w=640&h=360]
    '

    December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  16. Bill

    Two people that I could care less about the opinion of.

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

      And if you had to choose one over the other?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • What2013

      What does Christianity have to do with the government taking over everything. Socialism doesn't mix with GOD's gift of free will.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Dave D.

      If you could care less then why read the article and leave a comment? A little to much time on your hands or do you just like to be snippy?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  17. Sue

    The problem with the pope's philosophy is that he believes in the inherent goodness of governments, insisting on giving them more and more power. I believe that is the most dangerous philosophy of all. History tells us something very different.

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

      Excellent point, but he is also appealing to the potential charity in us all. I'm a secular Jew, and even I woke up when he started talking.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  18. Catholic Grandma

    Rush Limbaugh doesn't begin to know or comprehend what Pope Francis is talking about. I wonder if he has ever opened the pages of the Bible? The Pope's messages are very clear and very much in line with the Bible and Christianity, and genuine human principles for that matter. He needs to publicly apologize to the Pope and all Catholics. RL thinks he is some sort of a know-it-all-god. There is only ONE God! And he is blessing us all with the fresh outlook of this wonderful new Pope Francis.

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

      Rush is a heretic.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  19. Richard

    "Revolution theology" (which was pure Marxism) was hot in Latin American during the time this Pope came up in the ranks of the Church. Does it surprise anyone he'd be talking this way?

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

      Ah, openmindedness and reflection. What a double threat to the world! Throw in 'compassion' and we have a real fire ball ablazing. You must be soooo distressed. Poor baby.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  20. blf83

    Please, CNN, break some real news. When did a drug addict's opinions on the state of the world really matter?

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

      More prisons??

      December 2, 2013 at 3:31 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.