December 2nd, 2013
11:29 AM ET

Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – Pope Francis:  Successor to St. Peter ... the people's pontiff ... Marxist?

That's what conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh suggests, calling the Pope's latest document "pure Marxism."

Limbaugh blasted the pontiff on Wednesday, a day after Francis released "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), a 50,000-word statement that calls for church reform and castigates elements of modern capitalism.

Limbaugh's segment, now online and entitled "It's Sad How Wrong Pope Francis Is (Unless It's a Deliberate Mistranslation By Leftists)," takes direct aim at the pope's economic views, calling them "dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong."

The Vatican issued the English translation of "Evangelii," which is known officially as an apostolic exhortation and unofficially as a pep talk to the worlds 1.5 billion Catholics.

Francis the first pope ever to hail from Latin America, where he worked on behalf of the poor in his native Argentina – warned in "Evangelii" that the "idolatry of money" would lead to a "new tyranny."

The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

READ MORE: Pope Francis: No more business as usual

The Pope's critique of capitalism thrilled many liberal Catholics, who have long called on church leaders to spend more time and energy on protecting the poor from economic inequalities.

But Limbaugh, whose program is estimated to reach 15 million listeners, called the Pope's comments "sad" and "unbelievable."

"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."

In fact, Argentina was a battlefield between leftist socialists and right-wing security forces during much of Francis' early career in the country, where he was a Jesuit priest and later archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Limbaugh, who is not Catholic, said he admires the faith "profoundly."  He admired Pope Francis as well, "up until this," Limbaugh said.

The talk show host also said that he has made numerous visits to the Vatican, which he said "wouldn't exist without tons of money."

"But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," Limbaugh added. "This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope."

Limbaugh took particular issue with the Pope's criticism of the "culture of prosperity," which the pontiff called a "mere spectacle" for the many people who can't afford to participate.

"This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets," Limbaugh said. "He says that the global economy needs government control."

"I'm not Catholic, but I know enough to know that this would have been unthinkable for a pope to believe or say just a few years ago," Limbaugh continued.

In fact, Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, could be just as strong a critic of capitalism.

In 2009, Benedict, in an official church document called an encyclical, said there was an urgent need for "a political, juridical and economic order" that would "manage the global economy."

As Limbaugh notes, Benedict's predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, was a noted foe of communism, after living under its oppressions in his native Poland. But even John Paul thought that unregulated capitalism could have negative consequences.

In "Evangelii," Francis called for more of a spiritual and ethical revolution than a regulatory one.

"I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: `Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs,'" said Francis, quoting the fifth-century St. John Chrysostom.

Liberal Catholics defended Pope Francis on Monday, calling on Limbaugh to apologize and retract his remarks.

"To call the Holy Father a proponent 'pure Marxism' is both mean-spirited and naive," said Christopher Hale of the Washington-based Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. "Francis's critique of unrestrained capitalism is in line with the Church's social teaching."

Limbaugh is not the only conservative commentator to take issue with the Pope's views on capitalism.

READ MORE: Sarah Palin 'taken aback' by Pope Francis's 'liberal' statements

“I go to church to save my soul," said Fox News' Stuart Varney, who is an Episcopalian. "It’s got nothing to do with my vote. Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics.”

It doesn't sound like the criticism is slowing Francis down, however. He's started sending a Vatican contingent, including the Papal Swiss Guards, into Rome to deliver food and charity.

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Ethics • Media • Money & Faith • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis

soundoff (6,695 Responses)
  1. LollieM

    If Rush doesn't like what the Pope has to say, wait till he hears what Jesus said! Rush is a hater. His wealth and his world is built upon everything that the Pope has denounced. Of course Rush has to attack it. He has something to protect and he certainly doesn't want his lack of ethics or morality to be pointed out to a large segment of conservatives.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • John

      Rush is fortunate that people are willing to pay vast amounts of money to be entertained. That is, after all, what he is, a radio and television entertainer. He's smart enough to have duped millions of people out of millions of dollars based on their need to be entertained, their inability to think for themselves and their psychological need to hear the words of someone else that thinks like them. A fool and his money.....

      December 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  2. Brother Maynard

    I'm wondering how US politicians will respond to this. Espcially the Catholic Repbulicans.
    Will they side with Rush ? or Francis??

    December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Matt

      Rush. He is their puppet after all.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Renee

      The core Catholics will side with Frank, as he is God's envoy to earth.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      Choose God or mammon. Can't pick both. Matthew 6,24.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • yvonne

      they will side with King Rush

      December 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
  3. Bill

    Going to church to save your soul while hoarding your good fortune as your fellow man is suffereing, is not Christian and will not lead to your salvation. Salvation cannot be bought but your soul can be sold. Christianity...and the Pope,,,are not against Capitalism, only the social ills that can result from unbridled greed...when money becomes a false god....or "the Precious" (Lord of the Rings). As one poster above mentioned, Gates and Buffet..both Capitalist icons are part of a foundation that gives a huge chunk of their change to helping society. You don't have to be a Marxist to care for your fellow man. Rush is too preoccupied with his "Precious".

    December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  4. TomNPitt

    It's obvious Rush is not on the side of Catholics. I wonder when it will become apparent he's not FOR any Christian organizations. Just what Conservative belief being pushed by the Republican's seeking political office mirror a Christian, Biblical belief. The only issue I can think of is abortion. The rest of it seems to fall under the rich succeeding at a cost to the poor. And Rush is one of the richest of the rich he supports and promotes!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  5. bluesky

    A serious journalistic column would not place the pictures of these two men anywhere near each other. RL doesn't deserve to be mentioned in civil discourse. Thanks CNN for continually lowering what gets sadly referred to as "public debate."

    December 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Matt

      It's the internet. Get over it.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  6. rolling stone

    Russ must have learned political theory from a barbershop.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  7. lizzy10

    Mr. Limbaugh, the Pope is preaching Christianity, but I guess you won't get that.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  8. DaveinIL

    More of the CNN sideshow to distract from the continuing problems of their messiah, Obama. The Pope called for government to provide provide “dignified work, education and health care” to all citizens to avoid "an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”
    If that isn't the core of marxisim, socialism, and communism, then what is it.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Matt

      These are things you should have learned in high school. If you failed to learn them that's your problem but don't expect people who paid attention to waste their time explaining it to you.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Mary

      Lol. Lol. Lol. Thanks for the laugh.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • John

      So you consider EVERYTHING in the Bible to be Marxist, eh? Must be an atheist.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Renee

      Actually, I was waiting for the first one to post as if marxism and communism are two different concepts. Oh my. Short wait.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
      • Matt

        My favorite is when they lump communism and socialism together like they are the same thing.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      IT is called the WORDS of Jesus as found in the Four Gospels. Really radical stuff; got Jesus nailed to a cross. Surprised Conservative "Christians" are only now catching on that Jesus was the Greatest LIBERAL of 'Em All !!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mary

      I also find it beyond funny that the ONLY people who ever call Obama their "messiah" are his detractors. Perhaps you don't know what a messiah is??

      December 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      How do you feel about the mortgage interest tax deduction?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    Since when does the heir to St. Peter defend the moneychangers in the Temple? Stuart Varney seems to think he can skate through life devoid of any moral obligations: I guess the Objectivist viewpoint does not go down well with people whoa ctually practice their faith, and worship something other than the Golden Calf.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  10. Chaos

    " this is a non story were it not for CNNs insatiable desire to carry Obama's torch."

    Um, Obama isn't even in the story.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  11. bluesky

    I'd call Rush a big fat idiot, but I wouldn't want to insult fat people or idiots.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  12. Fr33domhawk

    Limbaugh added that Jesus was a dirty hippy liberal communist who trampled on rich people's profits by feeding and healing the poor when the poor should have instead died in the gutters for the entertainment of Limbaugh-like religious conservatives of the day. Looks like Jesus and the Pope are two peas in a pod.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  13. George

    well... judging (yes I judge!!! OMG!!) it would seem that no one cares about Rush. Surprise!! Not really. Not at all surprised. Rush is an idiot and there is, or was, such a thing as responsible capitalism. That is where you 'really' take care of your employees and not move overseas to take advantage of slave labor.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  14. JohnnyQuest

    Rush is a Groucho Marxist. He's a laughing stock (but not nearly as funny as Groucho).

    December 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Renee

      Brilliant – true too. :)

      December 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  15. Bill

    Oh, SHUT UP, you fat sack of hate and hypocrisy.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    Does Rush want the Pope to fail/ Will he begin a recall campaign? I hear Rick Santorum is available. Maybe we should have Darrell Issa convene hearings.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  17. palintwit

    The "Quitter", a former half-term governor, could not be elected as a Wasilla dog catcher in her home state again. We know her failures and shortcomings too well as an incompetent, vindictive, twit that can barely string a coherent sentence together. She bailed on her sworn duties to Alaskans when someone dangled a book contract in front of her. Oh, and she lost the last election for McCain.

    She's good for some laughs at the Grand Old Party's expense, but it's scary to see the number of right-wing nut-jobs that get spun up by her in rapt ignorance.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  18. Vence

    Well, the trend continues. Called liberal by Palin, and Marxist by Limbaugh. What's next? be called Che Guevara by Bohener.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Fr33domhawk

      The Pope will be called a gay satan worshipper by Sean Hannity and Glenda Beck.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  19. Cubby

    "Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics."

    Oh, Stuart Varney. You didn't need to tell us that you only go to church to "save" your soul–it's obvious. You certainly don't go to listen to the teachings of Jesus. If you actually listened, you might realize that the pontiff has a DUTY to call into question practices that run counter to His teachings, even if that means placing the Christian value system above your personal economic value system. Did you ever stop to think that maybe the Pope isn't trying to influence your vote so much as trying to influence your perception about what is RIGHT and what is WRONG? The audacity of that guy–I mean who does he think he is, God's representative on Earth?

    December 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  20. sick of christian phonies

    Anyone that disagrees with millionaire Rush and his Republican lackeys and their culture of "I got mine, F the rest of you" is immediately attacked as a socialist, a marxist, or someone preaching class warfare.
    It's obvious that Rush has not spent much time reading the New testament. Matthew 19:24- " it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
    But rush sees himself as being ordained by God, to instruct the ignorant and dumb as to how and what to think.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.