Conservative U.S. radio talk show host and political commentator Rush Limbaugh has riled some American Catholics by accusing Pope Francis of preaching "pure Marxism."
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, however, accused Limbaugh of being "mean spirited and naive" after he attacked Pope Francis' recent critique of "unfettered capitalism" in a November 26 document call "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel).
"Francis's critique of unrestrained capitalism is in line with the Church's social teaching," CACG said in a statement on Monday as the Pope's comment and reactions continued to stir debate.
"His particular criticism of 'trickle down economics' strengthens what Church authorities have said for decades: any economic system which deprives the poor of their dignity has no place within a just society," the Catholic alliance said.
The Pope had called on the rich to share their wealth.
"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," Francis wrote in the document.
The following day on his radio talk show Limbaugh said, "You know, the pope, Pope Francis - this is astounding - has issued an official papal proclamation, and it's sad.
POPE ON CAPITALISM
"The Pope has written, in part, about the utter evils of capitalism....
"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."
The document was Francis' vision of the Church in which he spoke about modern capitalism and global economic inequality.
He cited "trickle down" economics - which Francis declared has not been proven to work and reveals a "naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."
On his November 27 radio show, Limbaugh lambasted the Pope's message, saying it was "pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope."
The talk show host said, "I'm not Catholic. I admire it profoundly, and I've been tempted a number of times to delve deeper into it. But the Pope here has now gone beyond Catholicism here, and this is pure political."
Francis' comments are not the first critique of unfettered capitalism from pontiffs.
Catholic.org noted that "the Pope's skepticism of free markets and concern about the lack of ethics in finance were shared by his predecessor, Benedict XVI."
The Catholic World Report also noted, "Pope Francis' exhortation Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel") continues and reinforces a vision of the Church found in the early studies of the future Pope Benedict XVI - a vision that was central to Benedict's teachings as the Successor of St. Peter."
The Wall Street Journal's Market Watch columnist, Darrell Delamaide wrote on December 3 that Pope Francis was not attacking capitalism, but greed.
"Pope Francis did not even use the word 'capitalism' in the offending four paragraphs and the only globalization he decried was the 'globalization of indifference.'
"Rather he made an impassioned plea for society and government to protect the vulnerable from the predations of the greedy, to include everyone in this prosperity - not by taking from the rich to give to the poor but by making sure they have a role to play."
Market Watch, the day before, had quoted J.P. Morgan economist James Glassman who did not quote Pope Francis by name, but said, "market-oriented economic systems are doing more to cure global poverty than any other effort in the past."
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good said in its statement, "Contrary to what Mr. Limbaugh suggests, the Catholic Church isn't built on money, but on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.
"We proudly stand with Pope Francis as he provides prophetic leadership for the Catholic Church and the entire world."