"It's an ugly thing," Pope Francis said, "when you see a Christian who doesn't want to humble himself, who doesn't want to serve, a Christian who struts about everywhere: it's ugly, eh? That's not a Christian: that's a pagan!"
Rush Limbaugh Attacks Pope Francis' Letter as 'Pure Marxism'
Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh attacked Pope Francis' letter, condemning the pope's comments on the "new tyranny" of "unfettered capitalism" as uninformed and somehow planted by the Marxist movement.
"This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope," Limbaugh declared. The commentator noted that, until this letter, he had admired Pope Francis. Now, however, he must distance himself. On economics, the pope is "totally wrong, I mean dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong."
In "Evangelii Gaudium," an "apostolic exhortation" sent to the entire Roman Catholic Church, Francis insisted on a renewal of the Catholic Church and a political battle against poverty and inequality to combat a soulless economic system. "The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose," Francis wrote.
"As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems."
"Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills."
"This totally befuddled me," Limbaugh admitted. "There has been a longstanding tension between the church and communism," he continued, referring to a previous pope, John Paul II, who is widely credited with helping President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher defeat Soviet communism in the 1980s. In this light, Pope Francis' attack on capitalism seemed out of place.
Limbaugh insinuated that the letter's true origin could not have been Francis himself. "Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," the radio host alleged.
Francis urged politicians "to attack the structural causes of inequality, and strive to provide work, healthcare, and education to all citizens," Limbaugh said. Unfortunately, the radio host argued, these policies do not work. He pointed to President Obama's efforts in the past five years, arguing that "all he's done is create massive debt and destroy jobs."
The pope also called on rich people to share their wealth, Limbaugh noted. But this will not lift the poor out of their condition, he argued.
"Socialism, Marxism, constrains people, it limits people, it prevents people from realizing their potential as human beings," Limbaugh claimed. In America, however, capitalism enables anyone to make their dreams come true, if they work hard, he claimed. "For most of the people in the world, dreams are nothing but that – they start as dreams and end as dreams – and that's why people around the world have sought to come here."
In a new interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Pope Francis responded to the allegations that he is a Marxist.
“Marxist ideology is wrong," the Pope told La Stampa, "But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended."
“There is nothing in the exhortation that cannot be found in the social doctrine of the church,” the pope said. He acknowledged rejecting what he termed “trickle-down theories” of economic growth, but said such a position “does not mean being a Marxist.”
Pope Francis repeated earlier calls for an end to world hunger, recounting a recent encounter during a public audience with a woman holding an infant.
“The child was crying its eyes out as I came past,” the pope said. “’Please give it something to eat!’ I said. She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public while the pope was passing. I wish to say the same to humanity: give people something to eat!”
Since taking charge, Francis has shifted the tone of the church toward a focus on service, compassion and helping the poor and has addressed controversial issues such as homosexuality, climate change, pollution, and even recycling and environmental responsibility.
At his final general audience of 2013 in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, the pope spoke about the birth of Jesus and the importance of humility.
"It is an ugly thing," he said, "when you see a Christian who doesn't want to humble himself, who doesn't want to serve, a Christian who struts about everywhere: it's ugly, eh? That is not a Christian: that's a pagan!"