Several Catholic organizations have criticized Rush Limbaugh for attacking Pope Francis' agenda as “pure Marxism.” But one group is standing by him: the Catholic League and its anti-gay leader, Bill Donohue.
In late November Pope Francis released Evangelii Gaudium, an apostolic exhortation which included criticisms of the “idolatry of money” and global wealth inequality. Right-wing media responded by attacking the Pope, with Limbaugh describing the Pope's writings as having “gone beyond Catholicism” and into “pure Marxism,” and that “somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him.” Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the National Coalition of American Nuns denounced Limbaugh's comments.
But the Catholic League is not joining their criticism of Limbaugh. “Catholic League has never, ever, ever been after anybody for criticizing the pope or priest or a bishop. We get involved when you hit below the belt, when you start becoming insulting,” said Donohue in a December 11 interview with Newsmax TV. “He didn't like the pope's views on economics. Rush Limbaugh is entitled to that.” Asked if Rush's criticism had been “below the belt,” Donogue replied, “No, of course not.”
Donohue also lashed out at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good as a “bogus Catholic entity.”
In a July interview, Donohue urged Pope Francis to oust “the gay lobby” supposedly at work in the Vatican.
An archconservative who is often given a platform by the media as a representative of Catholics, Donohue has a long history of inflammatory rhetoric, which includes describing the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal as a “homosexual crisis”; criticizing the publishing world for their refusal to “tell the truth about the gay death style”; claiming that "[t]he gay community has yet to apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done"; describing the film industry as “controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular”; and saying that "[p]eople don't trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty."
In an interview with Italy's La Stampa newspaper, Pope Francis defended his remarks against criticism like Limbaugh's, saying, “Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don't feel offended.” He added, “There is nothing in the exhortation that cannot be found in the social doctrine of the church.”