NEW YORK – After a virtual back-and-forth over the pope’s criticism of the free-market system, talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh kept an eye on the Roman Catholic pontiff on his show Tuesday, comparing the decision by the “gay” magazine the Advocate to name Francis its “Person of the Year” to President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize award in 2009.

At the start of his nationally syndicated broadcast Tuesday, Limbaugh conjectured that the magazine was trying to persuade the pope to embrace the LGBT agenda, much as Obama received the peace award without accomplishing anything.

“They hope they can induce the pope to move even further away from the church’s doctrine,” Limbaugh said.

“That’s what’s going on. ‘Hey, pope, you know what? You’re not such a bad guy after all. You don’t like Limbaugh, and you don’t like capitalism. You’re getting close to us, buddy. So Time magazine can name you ‘Person of the Year’ for your anti-capitalist rant. Well, we’re going – it’s sort of like Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize before he’s done anything,” Limbaugh said.

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“This is the militant gay rights community giving the pope their ‘Person of the Year’ award sort of on the come, hoping that the pope moves in their direction.”

The cover of the current Advocate magazine features Francis with a “NO H8” stamped on his cheek, and his famous utterance placed in quotation marks: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge.”

He made the comment in an impromptu news conference aboard the papal airplane returning from Rio de Janeiro to Rome on July 29, after attending the World Youth Day week in Brazil.

“No H8” is a reference to the NOH8 campaign opposing the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which amended the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

The Advocate noted Francis is the leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide.

“Like it or not, what he says makes a difference. Sure, we all know Catholics who fudge on the religion’s rules about morality,” the magazine noted. “There’s a lot of disagreement, about the role of women, about contraception, and more. But none of that should lead us to underestimate any pope’s capacity for persuading hearts and minds in opening to LGBT people, and not only in the U.S. but globally.”

Comparing Francis to President Obama as an influencer, the Advocate story said: “The remaining holdouts for LGBT acceptance in religion, the ones who block progress in the work left to do, will more likely be persuaded by a figure they know. In the same way that President Obama transformed politics with his evolution on LGBT civil rights, a change from the pope could have a lasting effect on religion.”

Catholics defend Francis

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, was quick to respond to The Advocate’s “Person of the Year” award, pointing out the pope’s comments regarding homosexuality are consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Catechism.

“The Catechism also says that Scripture ‘presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity.’ The pope, when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, spoke against gay marriage, saying such an arrangement threatens the ‘survival of the family,’ causing children to be ‘discriminated’ against,” Donohue said in a statement Tuesday.

“The gay community is bent on conflating sexual orientation with sexuality. This is false,” Donohue continued. ”There is nothing in Catholic doctrine that condemns homosexuals any more than it condemns heterosexuals: it condemns such acts as fornication, homosexuality and adultery.”

In a related article, the Advocate listed nine Catholics “who need to listen to the Pope,” one of whom was Bill Donohue.

“Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, has been vocal against reproductive rights and LGBT rights for years,” the magazine said..

“Even after Pope Francis’ pledge to confront and eradicate pedophilia in the church, Donohue still takes the simplistic, homophobic view that priests who molest children are gay. ‘Less than 5 percent of the priests involved in molestation are pedophiles,’ he said after pope said he doesn’t judge gay priests. ‘I will never stop telling the truth. And the pope never said we should either. I am against gay bashing.’”

In his statement Tuesday, Donohue defended himself.

“The Advocate also lists ‘9 Catholics Who Need to Listen to the Pope.’ Actually, most are organizations or communities. Three individuals are listed: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Bishop Thomas Tobin, and me,” Donohue noted. “It takes exception to my statement, that ‘less than 5 percent of priests involved in molestation are pedophiles.’ I took that fact from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice study on the subject. To its credit, The Advocate quoted me as saying, ‘[I] am against gay bashing.'”

Donohue concluded by noting the media are reluctant to cover doctrinal statements Francis makes that contradict the politically correct left-leaning views of establishment elites.

“Recently, the media promoted the idea that the pope may appoint women cardinals,” Donohue commented. “Here is what the pope said last week. ‘Women in the Church must be valued, not clericalized. Whoever thinks of women as cardinals suffers a bit from clericalism.’ Predictably, the media are dead silent on the pope’s rejection of women cardinals. The spin is pure politics.”

The NOH8 campaign features a “photographic silent protest” created by photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley that has grown to nearly 33,000 faces since the program’s inception. Each photograph features the subject with duct tape over the mouth to signify being silenced by Proposition 8 and similar legislation worldwide. “NOH8” also is painted on one cheek in protest.

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