Neither Rush Limbaugh nor The Washington Post Get Pope Francis

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from Catholic Answers,

In a recent segment on his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh talked about the pope’s new apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. I don’t have the space to address everything Limbaugh said, but what struck me was his mischaracterization of Pope Francis’s comments about economics.

The fundamental problem was that Limbaugh chose to quote not what Pope Francis wrote but a Washington Post article on the exhortation, which stated:

– Pope Francis attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny” and beseeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality, in a document on Tuesday setting out a platform for his papacy and calling for a renewal of the Catholic Church. . . . In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money.”

Limbaugh responded by saying, “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. Unfettered capitalism? That doesn’t exist anywhere. ‘Unfettered capitalism’ is a liberal socialist phrase to describe the United States.

Granted, it takes hours to read this massive document but, for someone whose words are heard by millions of people, before calling the pope a “Marxist” a simple use of the control+F function would have been warranted. If Limbaugh had done that, he would have found that the phrase “unfettered capitalism” does not appear in Evangelii Gaudium.

Neither is the global economy the main theme of this exhortation; rather, it’s only one area where Pope Francis is calling on the Church to evangelize the world. He describes specific financial and cultural challenges facing the human community and then addresses the temptations of pastors who must face these challenges. Nowhere does the Pope blame humanity’s woes on the concept of the free market or demand a Marxist government to save mankind.

Limbaugh later said, “[J]uxtaposed against the actions of Pope John Paul II, this pope and the things that he released yesterday or recently are really striking.

No, they aren’t. In his 1991 encyclical Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II reflected on socialism and capitalism in light of the recent fall of the Soviet Union. Although he acknowledged that profit has a “legitimate role” in the function of a business and that “the Marxist solution” to economic inequality had failed, he also spoke of the “inadequacies of capitalism” and said that profit is the not the only indicator that a business is doing well. The human dignity of workers matter too, and if capitalism is left unchecked it becomes “ruthless” and leads to “inhuman exploitation.” Pope Francis’s words are consistent with John Paul’s.

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