Rush Limbaugh, Pope Francis and Frogs

Rush Limbaugh, Pope Francis and Frogs November 30, 2013

Rush Limbaugh, who is nobody’s nominee for Nice Person of the Year, says that “somebody’s either written this for him … or gotten to” Pope Francis.

According to Mr Limbaugh, the Holy Father’s recent document, Evangelii Gaudium, is “pure Marxism.”

I’m going to write about Evanelii Gaudium in detail next week when we aren’t digesting turkey, spending time with our families and watching football. In the meantime, I want to toss this little bit of bile from Mr Limbaugh out there for your consideration.

I think it juxtaposes nicely with President Obama’s action of folding America’s Embassy to the Holy See into our Embassy with Italy. Mr Limbaugh’s comment and President Obama’s action form bookends of a sort. They illustrate both the right and the left wing angst that they cannot control the Pope.

Both the right and left wings of current political debate are Godless philosophies that try, each in their own way, to bend the Gospels into a perverted version of themselves that gives moral gravitas to the respective evils of their two socio-fiscal-political viewpoints. The left wing has confined itself to association with churches that bend the Gospels to suit Democratic Party Moral teachings, while the right wing has associated itself with those churches that edit the Gospels to suit Republican Party Moral Teachings.

Lately, the left wing has abandoned the churches altogether and headed out onto the ice of militant secularism. Even while their toady churches continue their slavish apologetics for what has increasingly become an amoral political viewpoint, they find themselves shunted aside as no longer necessary.

The right wing is a bit behind the curve on this, but not much. They are trying to ignore their religious supporters while still hanging on to their votes. It remains to be seen how successful they will be.

Mr Limbaugh, with his deft ability to say vulgar and hate-filled things, has pointed the way.

If the Pope, or any other Christian leader is going to preach a Gospel that includes moral imperatives relating to economics and concern for the poor, then that religious leader is no longer either useful or welcome at the right-wing party.

I’m not writing this to enrage my Limbaugh-following readers — although I imagine that will happen. I am writing it to point out to those who are willing to see it that a true follower of Jesus Christ is without a political country in today’s American landscape.

You can follow Jesus and His Vicar, or you can make up excuses for President Obama and Mr Limbaugh.

However, you cannot do both.

Either Jesus Christ meant what He said in those Gospels Pope Francis is trying to teach us, or He didn’t. Either Christ the Lord is your Lord in every aspect of your life, including your politics, or He is not your Lord at all.

Choose this day whom you will serve: The Rs. The Ds. Or Jesus Christ.

I am writing this in a hurry because I need to get ready to go to mass. This evening I will begin my own personal journey through one of the Church’s two great penitential seasons. Mass tonight marks the start of Advent, when we look at ourselves through a Gospel prism and confess both to ourselves and to our God the many ways in which we fall short of that Gospel ideal.

As such, it is an obvious time to consider where our loyalties in this world actually lie.

Do you love me more than these? Jesus asked Peter.

The question applies to you and me as we begin this Advent season. Who is your God? Does he stand behind a podium with an American flag as a backdrop? Does he wear headphones and spit out diatribes on the radio?

Or, perhaps, are we awaiting your God in this season of Advent, looking forward to the day when He will be born among us in a stable to a young carpenter and his innocent bride?

Do you love me more than these?

In this post-Christian America where Presidents can lie and everyone knows they are lying and no one cares, where commenters can rail against the Pope and still keep their cult-like followings, that question is not only salient, but urgent.

What is your answer?

From TheRawStory:

On his Wednesday radio show, Rush Limbaugh admitted being “befuddled” by the harsh words about “unfettered capitalism” released this week by Pope Francis.

… He also said that up to now he had admired the new pope, if he also thought that Pope Francis was putting on the “common man touch” a bit too thick. “I thought there might have been a little bit of PR involved there,” he said.

But … the pope’s latest Evangelii Gadium, or Joy of the Gospel

… didn’t sit well with Limbaugh. “Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him,” Rush said. “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope.”

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55 responses to “Rush Limbaugh, Pope Francis and Frogs”

  1. I think Mr.Limbaugh is going to get an unusually negative mailbag this time. I think a good few conservative Catholics will appreciate neither his manners nor his content.

  2. I wonder what my friend John C.Wright will make of it, though! John is a convert and also an obstinate conservative of the most aggressive stripe, I have more than one friend who may find him or herself in doubt.

  3. I just finished Evangelii Gaudium, and I think you are insisting on a false dichotomy, between Rush Limbaugh (who I don’t like) or embracing what sounds like the Pope’s call for state sponsored theft from the wealthy to benefit the poor. Jesus called His FOLLOWERS, not Caesar, to look after the poor. I believe commerce does need laws and regulation, thanks to greedy human nature, governments have obligations to provide basic services for their people in exchange for being able to tax them, and Christians and the rest of the world should engage in greater charity, but calling for governments to specifically play Robin Hood is not the answer. The Lord makes it clear that it is as evil to side with the poor in a dispute merely because of their poverty as it is to side with the wealthy because of their wealth–He calls for justice, which excludes playing favorites. Nor does creating perpetual neediness thru handouts lift people up and impart the dignity the Pope seems to think it will. People need work that is meaningful, providing them adequate pay to live on and self respect thru accomplishment. Being treated as a beggar is not empowering. I think His Holiness is very sincere, but I believe he is mistaken. I also disagree with his assessment that “true” Islam is peaceful–it has spread thru violence and oppression since the beginning, and tho I assume he’s being diplomatic, pretending it is at core peaceful is the sort of prevarication befitting the current POTUS, not a Pope.

  4. Jesus did that to a lot of people, Fabio. They are going to have to decide whether they want to follow Christ for real or just when He agrees with their politics.

  5. I wish I had looked further into the “chatter” over how well the English translation of Francis’ Spanish document actually represents his ideas before writing the above. Reading an alternate translation of those passages softens what sounds militantly socialist, and makes more sense to me. If this is closer to what he said in the Spanish, then I can agree with what he says without any reservations. I will have to see if an old college friend, who is married to an Argentine and lived there for a while, will read the Spanish for me and let me know which take is more accurate. They have 3 kids between 7 and 3, so it may not happen, but I will ask. Without this kerfuffle, I actually liked the rest of the document–his instructions to preachers on preaching and engaging their flock are excellent.

  6. Fr Z actually has a very good explanation of the bad translation, again. Reading in Spanish the troublesome passages on economics read very differently. I’ve found that in a number of written and spoken quotes of Pope Francis.
    Go look at it. especially the comments, many by economist native Spanish speakers from SA.
    Rebecca, I only agree with Rush on anything about 50% of the time! Obama even less. Politicians are politicians and those in Washington would like us to vote for them and then leave them alone with all our messy, moral demands.
    But, people have different areas of expertise and I don’t believe Pope Francis’ is economics. Maybe he needs to leave specific comments to those with expertise while teaching the moral bases for our actions which he is really good at.
    Classic example, the USCCB supported Obamacare and then were surprised to see what was in it.

  7. I’m sorry if I offended you, Rebecca, that wasn’t my intent. I know you are a real Catholic, and not just a Sunday morning or Christmas/Easter one and the Pope has the final word for you.

  8. Well, from what I’ve seen Rush is wrong, it’s not pure Marxism. It’s not even intellectually formed enough to be that. But there is no question. The Pope’s remarks shows incredible economic ignorance. Fr. Longenecker had a blog on this and linked to a very astute economist and Catholic, Samuel Gregg who commented on the Pope’s economic ignorance. Here’s Fr. Longenecker’s blog:

    More importantly, here’s Samuel Gregg’s article:

    Here are my thoughts in addition to what Gregg says:
    First off, there is no such thing as unfettered capitalism. That’s an abstraction that doesn’t exist in the real world. All governments put restrictions on their economies. Second the world poverty rate has gone down as we have spread free markets across the world. When we have tried to give money to the developing world, it gets stolen through their dictators and crony capitalists. If you don’t believe me, here:

  9. You didn’t offend me Sister. I didn’t mean it to come across that way. I was just trying to make it clear where I stand. Thank you for that assessment of me, btw. All I really want to be is faithful to Jesus, and I think following the Church is the surest way to do that. I enjoy your comments here. You make an important contribution to the discussion.

  10. From what I’ve seen in the Conservative Catholic circles, they are just as flaberghasted with the Pope’s economic knowledge as Rush. Now Rush is a radio commentator and he will automatically assume the worst motives in the Pope’s statements. No, I don’t think the Pope is a Marxist. He’s essentially a political populist who gets swayed by emotional arguments. His ignorance of economics is clear in every statement he made.

  11. Even teaching which is not infallible is so authoritative that any Catholic who refuses it has the duty to think with great care on it and reflect over and over again on whether his/her objections are final. And remember that whether or not this particular teaching is infallible, one thing is for certain: YOU are not.

  12. Manny, of course they are. The Holy Father is challenging their real god. He’s calling them to stop making a false idol of their politics. The Pope isn’t conservative or liberal. He’s a Christian. He’s Catholic. What he says in this document is completely consistent with Church teaching. Popes have said the same thing, including Benedict XVI, John Paul II, Leo the something and others. I know. I’ve read the encyclicals of Popes (Saint) John Paul the II and Pope Leo. I have also read the many statements to this effect from Pope Benedict XVI.

    Choose this day …

  13. What conservatives mean when they talk about someone’s economic ignorance is that he does not agree with their own theories. In fact, you cannot be ignorant in economics in the sense my conservative friends mean (I have had this debate with John C.Wright already), because economics is not a set of dogmas you can transgress. There is no economic law that is even as true as the theorem of Pythagoras. You can, at best, interpret. So when Manny says that you can’t have such a thing as unfettered capitalism, I have to ask him what he calls a situation where store employees are not allowed to take Sundays off (and in Italy there is a rumour that stores will be open on Christmas and Boxing Day), where they are expected to risk their lives like that poor bastard crushed to death by a maddened Black Friday mob, where no corporation head or manager EVER goes to jail no matter WHAT his company does, where some companies are “too big to fail”, and where, from year to year, the middle classes are getting poorer while the corporate leadership is getting richer? If that’s not unfettered, bud, we need a few more fetters.

    More important still, you seem not to have got the meme regarding Holy Poverty. The Church, for your information, does not approve of wealth. “Go, sell everything you have, and give it to the poor, and then you will have treasure in Heaven.” “The love of money is the root of all evil.” “Tonight your soul shall be required of you…” In a society where wealth is deified, where noted crooks are left off the hook just because they are rich, in a society where bankers whine because they are not appreciated enough, corporations are allowed the rights of real human beings without any of their duties, where a Berlusconi can purchase half a parliament and poison a country, in a society where crony capitalism is the norm and freedom a threatened commodity, is it bad to say that greed is not good and that there is no merit in wealth?

  14. George Soros and Rush Limbaugh are, like Oprah Winfrey, wealthy ideologues who have a gift for acquiring money (which in itself is good) but who then confuse
    their wealth with omniscience while simultaneously suffering a sense of
    entitlement that would embarrass an adolescent.

    The Bishop of Rome has said nothing new. Regardless of the wish-fulfillment
    fantasies of what may perhaps be called the Left and the fears of what might
    perhaps be called the Right, Papa Francis teaches what all other bishops of Rome
    have taught for 2,000 years, and which may be found in, among other primary
    sources, the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father, the Magnificat, the Hail Mary, and the Bible (the entire canon, not the post-16th-century digests passively accepted by many in this country). That these teachings are often ignored by frail and sometimes evil humans does not invalidate them.

  15. Well, that’s a jdgement call as to whether they are making it an idol. Perhaps the Pope is making equality an idol. But I’m not going to judge. All I can tell you is look at the chart I posted above. Worldwide poverty has been going down for thirty years.

  16. Baloney. Economics may not be a science, but it’s a discipline. If you want to argue that Shakespeare or Dante are not great poets with a literature professor, your ignorance on the subject will be telling. When the Pope talks about economics in the manner he does, his ignorance is telling. If you haven’t taken any college level economics courses, you have a hole in your education.

  17. Rebecca, Rush Limbaugh didn’t take the time to really know and understand what the Pope said. He did something he tells us never to do. The Main Stream Media takes things out of context and rewrites the news to show their slant of what they think is what is happening. He did the same as the main stream media. The Pope didn’t say what Rush thought he said. The teaching of the Church is very correct on the morals of these economics. What the Pope and his predecessors talk about is “Unfettered Consumerism”. Rush thought it was “Unfettered Capitalism”. Quite a big difference. I sent Rush the article that explained the Church’s teaching and it is actually in line with what Rush says about Capitalism for the most part. In fact if it weren’t for the Church in Europe, Capitalism would never have arisen. So some of your comments are correct on how we should think about consumerism and our faith. But some of your comments reveal that you yourself hadn’t delved into exactly what the Church’s documents say. Matt C. Abbot, on his blog, invited Fr. John Trigilio of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy to weigh in on the subject and he did a thorough job. Your dislike for Rush really comes through. He certainly is someone who can do that to people. I myself find him pretty good on occasion as he is extremely pro-life but he says the same thing over and over and so I generally don’t listen to him and listen to Catholic Radio (EWTN) instead that deals with something other than politics. I get tired of politics.

  18. I have to agree, that there’s far more to this document than the half dozen paragraphs people are making a big deal over (myself included at first blush). Of course, money is more sensational than how a person of faith must rely on the Spirit and abide in the Lord, lest they become disillusioned and depressed and descend into dead rule keeping and hopelessly forget that the “power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us.” Some stuff certainly won’t resonate with the average person (such as, how to write a good sermon), but there’s much more than a cpl political hot potatoes worth discussing here. 🙂

  19. Ken, I’m not criticizing the rest of the Exhortation. The bits I’ve seen are very interesting. This conversation, however, focused on the economic musings the Holy Father put into it. And I that I find it lacking.

  20. Actually Manny, what this post was about was an unwarranted attack on our Pope by a vicious radio talk show maven.

  21. Ok, but may I ask why do you consider it “unwarrented?” The Pope is a public figure and he made a comment that involves policy. I don’t see any reason why Rush Limbaugh shouldn’t critique it, either in support or in opposition. It sounds like he was respectful. He said up to now he liked the Pope and that he was “befuddled.” That’s hardly an attack. I’ve heard Rush say many positive things about Catholicism over the years, and he’s not Catholic.

  22. I took several Econ courses at a Jesuit college and all the quibbling here is straining gnats. One doesn’t have to be an intellectual or anything other than human to experience the riches in this text or the gospels. It’s easy to understand what it means to step over Lazarus, or deny a man his due wage, or the difficulty of a camel passing through they eye of a needle …’all are clear in scripture. Our inspired Pope is onto more than an Econ lesson here and is exhorting us to throw off the goats and become joyful sheeps in real service. The Unabomber was a math genius but never grasped the infinite value of 1 human life.

  23. The Pope was exercising his moral authority as the Vicar of Christ to teach on matters of faith and morals. Mr Limbaugh was defending the position of a small group of powerful people who want to keep on enriching themselves off the government transfer of wealth by hooking themselves and their corporations into the tax base. He did this by making the outrageous accusation that the Pope’s moral teachings were “Marxist.”

    This was not only unwarranted, it was, as I said, outrageous.

  24. Enriching themselves off of governent transfer? Where did you get that? Then you don’t understand Limbaugh or free markets. We don’t want anyone to enrich themselves off government. We don’t want the government to be involved in the free market, PERIOD. That’s what it means to be a free market. Actually now you’re straying even further than the Pope. In my brief reading, the Pope never mentioned government transfer. It’s unions that usually wantg government transfer. Obviously with that sort of characterization, you’re a Marxist yourself then. 😉

  25. I’m not going to go into a description of corporate welfare and pork in this combox Manny, even though they are the antithesis of a free market and are exactly what Mr Limbaugh is supporting.

    Instead, I’m going to point out that you spoke of Rush Limbaugh and yourself as “we,” as in “we want.” You’re willing to drub the Pope for moral teachings that conflict with the teachings of Rush. Don’t be a right-wing Nancy Pelosi, Manny, who feels free to ignore the Pope when it conflicts with your politics. Worse, you are taking the attitude that you and Mr Limbaugh should be teaching the Pope how to teach morally.

    What the Holy Father said is consistent with constant Church teaching on these matters. It’s not new.

  26. I think His Holiness is very sincere, but I believe he is mistaken.

    That is refreshingly honest, albeit a gross understatement. I’m not a big fan of Rush, but I think he nailed it this time. It appears that Francis is putting down free enterprise and individual freedom, both of which make this a great country.

  27. Yes, Fabio, I am a sinner. From WYD I learned not to read PFrancis in English first. The Spanish to English translations are bad. Reading a couple economists from the southern cone, PF uses terms peculiar to there that do not mean the same thing as the translation, derrame for example. So, I will disagree with the translation but not the spirit. There are 2 areas of Church teaching I disagree with on moral grounds. I have studied them carefully by reading some theology and hold my opinion in reserve against current teaching.
    Rush Limbaugh criticized the pope. Big deal. Hans Küng and Richard Macbrien and Joan Chittister do that all the time. At least he’s a Protestant and has an excuse. Küng and Macbrien are supposed to be priests, Chittister consecrated religious. That is a big deal.

  28. He is just out of his element when discussing global economics. No one is going to listen to him but those in no position to implement his exhortations anyway. I don’t know what purpose it serves.

  29. Peggy, no one is saying to step over Lazarus, or deny a man his due wage. If you took economics, then you understand how a just wage is arrived at.

  30. Well free markets and Rush Limbaugh if you know both do not support corporate welfare. That’s something you politicians do very well, politicians of both parties.
    As to my personal gripes, I give to charity and expect lots of people to give to charity. The Church should not be in the business of interferring with governments and policies. They should have learned that lesson from the middle ages. Dante puts several Popes in hell in essence for trying to do the job of government. If the Pope is going to be an authority on economic policy, he better take some college classes.

  31. As I said, I’m not going to get into that in a combox, especially this one. I’m not sure what your point is, but it sounds like you think the Pope should tend to his incense and leave the real world to more worldly, practical and wiser folks.

    Be angry if you want, but that’s the wrong attitude.

  32. Different economic theories have basic sets of principles, but the “discipline” of economics is heavily based on trial and error. It can get complicated in its details, but it often described as more complex than it needs to be just so prevent the public from questioning various pet theories. Still, even if one *does* think economics is far too complex for someone like Francis to comprehend, then why should we trust a radio talk show host? Shouldn’t that be an argument for listening to economists? Yet, we are told not to listen to “academics.”

    Dismissing Francis because of complexity? Please.

  33. Not all of it yet. But from what I have read, it appears that Francis does not understand free enterprise or an individual’s right to live by ones own moral values.

  34. It’s true. The Church has *always* advocated social justice. Francis is just better at communicating that fact.

  35. “Dante puts several Popes in hell in essence for trying to do the job of government.”

    That noise you heard was my jaw hitting the floor and bouncing. Are you out of your mind, or have you never read Dante in your life? Dante put Popes in Hell for such sins as simony, cowardice, lust and so on. Even in the case of his enemy Boniface VIII, he condemned his greed for money, NOT his interference in politics! In fact, when speaking of Sciarra Colonna and the King of France’s assault on the Pope – I repeat: that Pope was Dante’s own personal enemy, Boniface VIII – Dante was furious and indignant, speaking of it as of crucifying Christ again in the person of His vicar. To Dante, if the King of France received a slap from the Pope, the King of France should have shut up and taken it. Do you know ANYTHING about mediaeval history? In the Middle Ages, the Pope was the last court of appeal in all kinds of matters. He could, and did, remove a kingdom from a king and give it to another (that is what happened in England in 1066 and in Ireland in the next century). He could no more be separated from politics than the Supreme Court from American politics today. And in case you had not noticed, Dante, with all his merits, is NOT a Doctor of the Church. The reason is that some of his opinions, and many of his teachings in politics and history, are, if not heretical, at least strangely presented and full of the errors of the time. After all, if we took Dante’s teachings seriously, we should locate Purgatory and Paradise on a mountain somewhere in Australia.

  36. I think you are somewhat confused. Hans Kueng has been repeatedly condemned, and his teaching is no more valid for a Catholic than Luther’s. As for Joan Chittister, send in the clowns!

  37. In case you had not noticed, “global economics” is in a Hell of a mess. Africa may be growing, but the advanced world is buried under the burden of debts we can never pay and of a vicious cycle of deindustrialization in favour of China and a few other countries that can never absorb enough imports from other countries to make up for the jobs they destroy with their cut-price competition, and who would not do it if they could, because their politics is mercantilistic and regards economy in general as a zero-sum game. Add to that the fact – and it is a fact – that whatever modern technology may do, it destroys more jobs than it builds, and I would stop talking as though we were such brilliant experts on economics and as though we could afford to patronize the Pope.

  38. Manny, you may be an economics professor for all I know, but you don’t have the least idea how to argue. Nothing you said here – and you said too little to deserve anything but dismissal – has anything to do with what I said. Three minus, go home and do the homework again.

  39. No. Memo is what I meant. Memos are real things, memes are magical inventions of Dawkins’ irrationalistic doctrines.

  40. Yes I have read Dante, several times. Look up the priinciples of the political parties and Dante’s day: White Guelphs, Black Guephs, and the Ghibellines. The division was over whether the Pope or the Holy Roman Emporer had authority in governance. Stop acting like you know it all, because obviously you don’t.

  41. The Pope should look at what has brought down world poverty. Everyone is attacking me but no one addresses my original comment box where I laid out how world poverty rates have plummeted over the last three decades.

  42. Manny, I’m glad you’re back. I want to apologize to you for the way I addressed you when we were discussing all this a couple of days ago. I know that you give your personal money to needy causes. I also believe that you are a sincere Catholic. Apologies and mea culpa.

  43. If you have, you read him with modern glasses. You did not answer what I said (again) about the Pope being the final court of appeal, and the political power that went with it. And kindly don’t try to teach an Italian historian about Whites and Blacks – that’s ABC. I was familiar with that at fourteen, and your presumption that I would not is patronizing and ignorant. The point is that the whole of mediaeval society shared a number of assumptions you don’t seem to understand. You come to the politics of another continent and another age as if everything could be reduced to your own municipal obsessions. It can’t, and you are a bad kind of reader if you can’t see the difference. Go on, FIND ME A SINGLE PASSAGE IN DANTE WHERE HE DAMNS A POPE FOR PLAYING POLITICS (rather than for being, as he often said, greedy for money). I dare you.

  44. No apologies needed. I didn’t think you were egregious. I think we’ve made a mountain out of a molehill on this. The Pope is not Marxist, at least I don’t believe so, and if and where human beings are treated as slave labor, I am in agreement with the holy father. His experience in South America is not my experience.


    On short notice:

    “Boniface VIII put forward some of the strongest claims to temporal, as well as spiritual, power of any Pope and constantly involved himself with foreign affairs. In his Bull of 1302, Unam Sanctam, Boniface VIII proclaimed that it “is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff”, pushing papal supremacy to its historical extreme. These views, and his chronic intervention in “temporal” affairs, led to many bitter quarrels with the Emperor Albert I of Habsburg, the powerful Colonna family of Rome, King Philip IV of France, and Dante Alighieri, who wrote his essay De Monarchia to dispute Boniface’s claims of papal supremacy.”

    You were correct Boniface is in hell for simony, but you have to understand that simony stems from his involvement with “temporal affairs.” One leads to the other.

  46. We’re going to see more of this Ken: Apostasy from the right because of money; apostasy from the left because of abortion, gay marriage, etc.

    Whatever happens, stay the course and follow Christ.

    And yes, I understand your anger completely. Prayer and the knowledge that the pharisees once said the same things about Christ for much the same reasons is the only way to deal with it.