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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. Jimmy Duncan

    What is "sad and unbeleivable' is that there are 15 million people willing to listen to Rush.

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

      Judge Judy will catch up in a couple of years.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • croco3

      Or that CNN is giving his nonsense a wider audience!!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  2. michael

    Though it happens all the time, I can help by raise my voice: How can CNN feature a comment by Limbaugh about the Pope?

    This is lazy reporting, sensationalist babble.
    Why not feature what Miley Cyrus's thoughts are concerning
    Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities verses UN sanctions. I'm sure
    we're all dying to know.

    It would seem that featured articles concerning notable personalities
    i.e. politicians, Religious figures, educators, philosophers should require a person
    of equal gravitas or stature. Instead we read comments from a pro basketball player about Obamacare, or of a former "Wrestler", a "Kardashian", or T. Nugent about gun control.

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

      Except this is the BB, and the Pope falls into the religious category just a wee bit.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  3. krazy4rw

    So, Rush, you're asking for a big cork? Where would you like us to put it? And I gotta ask, is it reusable? Can you send it to our dear friend Sarah when you are done being "corked"?
    Rush, talk to your doctor, you seriously need heavy duty help...
    Excellence in Broadcast, my butt...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  4. tvidie777

    The man is showing independent thought and not blindly following what religious leaders say. What's wrong with that? You OBAMA cult followers who swallow everything that comes out of every one of your Dear Leaders orifice without question should learn something

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

      What an ignorant post, Rush.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  5. JackAstor66

    I'm not a Christian, but I've studied the Bible, Aquinas, St. Augustine, etc., and I'm pretty sure I know more about the supposed Son of God than most Christians, and certainly more than Rush, and the things the new Pope is saying and doing are more consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ than anything that has come out of the Catholic Church in a long time. Greed, lack of caring for others, passing judgment on others, etc – all things that are so common to Rush and the GOP are about as far removed from Jesus as one can get. I may never believe in any kind of God, but I truly respect the new Pope for trying to return the Church to the teachings of its God, the original, pure words of Jesus Christ, and not the "amended" interpretation of the US religious right.

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

      Yeaaaaaaah.
      You can KNOW about religion and head straight to hell.
      You are lost.

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

      Very nicely stated. I too, am a non-believer, but have little to quarrel with in regards to what I understand Jesus's basic message to be. He need not have been the son of (a) god or supernatural in any way to still have been a truly good leader of men. A mortal, but an exceptional one.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • kormathaw

      It is such a fine line that so many fail to grasp. There is a difference between encouraging someone to give and taking from someone.
      Personally, I learned it pre-Kindergarten.
      It is a fine distinction, but I can tell you Jesus encouraged one, but not the other.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  6. Nova703

    Rush Limbaugh, an under-educated, drug abuser who has never done anything to help anyone but himself. He has no right to castigate the Pope. I hope his Cathoilc listeners recognize him for the bigot that he is and desert him.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  7. GubnitSPY

    Eat sht and die RUSH.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  8. bkkrause

    So, Rush, you're asking for a big cork? Where would you like us to put it? And I gotta ask, is it reusable? Can you send it to our dear friend Sarah when you are done being "corked"?
    Rush, talk to your doctor, you need help...
    Excellence in Broadcast, my butt...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Saad

      Lol.... so hillariously true....

      December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  9. gstlab3

    Who is the one telling who is to be trusted and why should we as American citizens trust anybody at this point?

    I say do unto others and pray for the best and prepare for the worst.,
    Why?
    Because history proves time and time again that the lowest common denominator rears its ugly head on a regular schedule.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  10. JimTheBoy

    Now, just who do you believe is telling the truth? A "drug addict" or a "man of God"? If you were on your dying bed, which one of these men would you prefer to be by your side??

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  11. mark

    Rush is a fat Pig

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  12. jake

    The man is just mad at life because he can find his tiny diccck.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  13. Matt

    Suppose that makes Jesus a Marxist as well then? After all his ministry was all about helping the poor, and if I'm not mistaken he had some very specific things to say about moneylending which does not bode well for 99.9% of America, assuming you subscribe to their mythology.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Barry

      Better also add in Saint Peter and Saint James, not to mention Moses. Dirty rotten Commies. lol

      December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  14. Mark

    Whatever, Rush.

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

    Stuart Varney, I thought you were identifying yourself as Christian. Apparently you are not. It is my understanding that Christian churches are not a place we go to save our souls (That almost sounds a little selfish and naive to me.). In my understanding of Christianity, that has already been accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For what other reasons might we invest ourselves in communities of faith?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Deus Ibi Est

      Sorry Martin. Jesus didn't die to save our souls leaving us with nothing to do but live....then die .........assured of a place in Heaven!
      He DIED to give us the OPPORTUNITY to get to Heaven based on our lives. After we die we are JUDGED on what we did, said and even thought.
      Everything we do during our lives is based on following and obeying the 10 Commandments and the
      'New Commandment; given by Jesus "Love one another as I love you."
      A place in Heaven must be EARNED; it is certainly NOT a foregone conclusion..

      December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  16. John Cavanaugh

    Criticism from a disk jockey who couldn't even get through one year of college? Give me a break!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  17. patirolf

    Too funny that a man like Limbaughs face is next to the popes. I am really laughing hard. Limbaugh has not a care in the world about the human race. He has his group of evil doers but that is what its about, good vs evil. Simple. Thank you for posting, life gets sillier by the moment.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • patirolf

      Your understand that is sarcasm. Get with it CNN, your better than that.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  18. Gary

    I think maybe Rush should say he's sorry and stop talking about this one. Even as an Agnostic, ex-Catholic I found Rush saying that about the Pope offensive.

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

    Is this the top news on CNN? Really?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • patirolf

      agree, totally dumb. come on cnn. your better than this.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
      • Mr.Howdydoody

        CNN can't pass up an oportunity to slam a conservative, especially when he is right. The Pope is trying to dabble in politics. The matter of helping the poor shouldn't be championed by an organization that has billions of dollars in it's private bank that no one can audit. Helping the poor should be a personal choice of concious. It shouldn't be a mandated plan by any government. If you are a true believer you belive that God gave man free will. By having a government take from a man and give his money to someone else you strip him of the free will given by God.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Deus Ibi Est

          Oh DO shut up, Dimwit.
          The Catholic Church does more than anyone to feed the poor; treat the sick; educate the uneducated and build homes for the homeless all over the world..
          They also pay rent , living expenses. medical bills and utilities for girls/women who keep their babies rather than abort....................and they pay for counselling and living expenses for those who DO abort. We don't JUDGE – we support!

          Since this is the case – we have the right to ask for equality for everyone.

          December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  20. truth

    God looks upon Catholicism and says: man-made, i never established this!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Deus Ibi Est

      Through His Son Jesus – God CREATED Christianity [the Catholic Church with Peter as head – or first Pope]
      And the Pope is right – what's Limbaugh droning on about? What is WRONG with gthe Pope being concerned about the increasing gap between the Rich and the Poor?

      As Pope John Paul said – There is n o need for starvation and extreme poverty when there is more enough food for everyone if it was SHARED fairly! In the West we throw out millions on tons of good food a month because we buy too much of what we don't even NEED and chuck it when kit goes off!
      THAT is GREED on an epic scale.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
      • kormathaw

        I as a Christian conservative agree with the Pope and Jesus that we should care for the poor and needy. This is done by individuals giving of themselves and sharing the love of Christ through the gifts of their labor and wealth.
        Marxism on the other hand, is stealing at government gunpoint from the wealth and labors of your rich neighbor to give to the poor. This is not biblical and has historically caused far more poverty and suffering than capitalism ever has. Capitalism is nothing more than getting the just rewards of your labor. What you do with those rewards afterwards is what defines your moral strength. Casting a vote to steal from your Rich neighbor gives you no moral authority.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:09 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.