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. southernwonder

    hope the pope would stop preaching marxism. however, marxism seems to be a part of the bible.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • Sara(swati)

      Communal ownership of the means of production is in the bible?

      December 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  2. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Dan


      December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Philip Douglas

      Kiss my ass Anna

      December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  3. Buffalo2002

    Bobby Boucher's mamma says that Rush Limbaugh is THE DEVIL

    December 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  4. Doug

    Let's assume for a moment that the Pope's comments were Marxist in nature (they weren't, in the least). What I would like to ask Rush is, why would it be any more appropriate for the Pope to express capitalist views than anti-capitalist views? What about being Pope makes Rush think part of Catholicism is free market capitalism? I don't get it.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • Bigboard

      You are forgetting that Rush is a Jerk with a capital J. He gives us Republicans a bad name.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  5. Bob Powers

    The issue is that CNN and others have promulgated Rush's caustic comments which is exactly what he wants. Stay in the public light regardless. The real way to object to this is indifference. Without ratings, he has nothing.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • fandancy

      He is nothing anyway.

      Except in his own mind.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  6. Jack

    Perhaps the Pope should be dispatching the Swiss Guard to deliver a few brains to deprived ditto heads and their bloated, bloviator-in-chief. He and they wouldn't know a Marxist from a Socialist from a Communist from a Methodist. Notice they rarely whip out the fascist accusations...little too close to home for all the wanna be masters of the universe for whom a cigar is never just a cigar.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  7. liberation theology strikes back

    as a former catholic, with men like him leading the church, i might come back, might. I'm agnostic, but I'm a proud former catholic, that loves to meet other catholics and former catholics and share our unique religious history. its like a club, protestants are just weird they take it too seriously, i.e. rush limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Katherine

      Well, I am protestant, but I love this Pope Francis and hold him in the highest esteem considering that he acknowledges and disseminates the true message of Christ. I'm not sure which God Rush and entourage are worshipping, it must be Lucifer they are worshipping because their words and actions are the anti-thesis of Christian Doctrine.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  8. Colin

    It is only acceptable as an adult to believe chidish garbage like talking snakes, the Red Sea splitting, mana falling from the sky, a man living in a whale's belly, a talking donkey, superhuman strength, a man rising from the dead and angels, ghosts, gods and demons in the field of:

    (a) history

    (b) literature

    (c) anthropology; or

    (d) Christianity

    December 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Dan


      You need to make these harder.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  9. Buffalo2002

    Bobby Boucher's mamma says Rush Limbaugh is THE DEVIL

    December 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  10. bill

    just how ignorant can mr Limbaugh be. its sad he has any followers. whats worse I must share the same USA as him.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Bigboard

      Limbaugh would be laughable if he did not have so many mindless followers. His brand of extremism is giving us moderate, reasonable Republicans a bad name.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  11. Chris

    Didn't Jesus himself have some Marxist or socialist views. Sell all that you have and give it to the poor? Something like that?

    December 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Jesus

      conservative evangelical christians who joined the GOP do not follow christ's teachings of Love, Forgiveness AND COMPASSION!

      December 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  12. hubert39

    Rush doesn't know hat the word Marxism means. He's to busy doing his drugs to learn anything.
    But he is funny.. I don't thin anybody takes Limbaugh serious.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Sara(swati)

      Most right wingers call any regulation of trade that increases economic equality "Marxism". They tend not to be a broadly educated bunch.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  13. Emma Morrow

    There hasn't been one critic yet would can point to something he said wrong in that piece.

    Progressives are insanely full of Hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Vincent

      Did you write this in English??? Sorry I can't make out what you are trying to say :(

      December 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
      • Philip Douglas

        It's just his attempt to call people haters because they don't goose step to Dur Furher Rush. Emma's a paid Rush troll.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
      • Bardamu

        Ha! I was thinking the same thing.

        December 3, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • Philip Douglas

      He said that the Pope was Marxist, you partisan hag.
      Cut the flame throwing out.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Sara(swati)

      Unless the pope pushes for government ownership of the means of production he doesn't even near Marxism. Show me where he's done that and we'll talk.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  14. Jesus

    Rush Limburger dies a horrible death. He finds himself at the Pearly Gates but they won't open. He bangs until I open a panel. He demands to be let in because he's been a good republican. I will then tell him that is not the reason he is not being let in. It is because he's an IDIOT and none can get in...right about then he hears Sarah Palin telling him its nice and hot down there and she can see Alaska from her place...He says what an idiot as he falls down the trap door that I pulled the lever on.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • ohmygod50!

      Limbaugh is a fat junkie. We all know this. He is a pill-popping slob. Hey, did his fat racist grandparents come here legally? Or his fat, racist ignorant parents? Just wondering.......He is a bigot. An ignorant supporter of the thieving 1%. He is the opposite of a well-educated American. He is disgusting.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Dean

      1) You have never listened to rush before. 2) you do know that Sara Palin never said she could see Russia from here her house that was an actor playing her on tv that said that. 3) liberals don't go to heaven. 4). Liberals are like Christmas lights, they all line up together, half of them don't work and the other half aren't very bright.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  15. Brian Keenan

    Rush, for years you have pontificated and puffed yourself up with all sorts of superlative language, even going so far as to annoint the conduit of your banter as the "excellence in broadcasting" network. You are so full of yourself when you continuously remind everyone that you have millions of followers. It is almost as if you think of yourself as the Pope. Well, guess what? You're not. The real Pope has 1000 times as many followers (1.5 billion vs 15 million), and, unlike you, was voted into his position.

    You are upset that his words seem Marxist? Have you ever read the Bible? (The New Testament I mean. Undoubtedly you are well versed in the fire and brimstone stuff.) Have you ever studied what Christianity is supposedly based on? Do you even grasp how hipocritical/absurd the Christian right is?

    December 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Emma Morrow

      You have no idea what the Christian Right thinks because your head is too full of Hate.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
      • Brian Keenan

        Really? You know what my head is full of? You seriously think that? How omniscient of you.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
      • ohmygod50!

        The Christina Right believes they are RIGHT.........therein lies the danger, duh. They are disgusting and bigoted.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  16. Dan

    Who cares what the pope thinks? His whole career is built around a make-believe fairy tale.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • FrmrMrne

      Then you don;t care and yet you're reading and commenting. So you do care. You sir, are a walking contradiction. Actually that's just an assumption. I don't really know whether or not you walk.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:26 am |
  17. pdxdave

    Tearing a page from a Bible to roll a joint does not give leftist hippies legitimate insight into what Jesus was or was not.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Maddy

      Do you know what leftist means? Hint: it doesn't mean an atheist hippy.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Jesus

      I am not a republican and My Father is NOT an evangelical conservative.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  18. Al

    Never forget, "Among conservatives there's been too much pseudo-populism, almost too much concern and attention for, quote, 'the people'... After all, we conservatives are on the side of the lords and barons... We...are pulling up the drawbridge against the peasants." William Kristol, Conservative publisher, and Neo Conservative leader.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
  19. Colin

    Please complete the following sentence. It is not uncommon in many parts of the World for a young man to strap a suicide vest to himself and blow himself up and members of a rival __________

    (i) corporation

    (ii) university

    (iii) research insti.tute; or

    (iv) church?

    December 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Dan

      What is church?

      December 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I bet it's iv

      ...was closed after a gang of nearly a thousand youths
      entered the Grand Hotel in pursuit of two leather-clad Rockers
      South Coast police have warned
      that if the fights between rival gangs of Mods and Rockers continue
      stricter security measures will be enforced at railway stations
      both in London and on the south...

      December 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • Bardamu

      Colin can be said to be:

      a) Annoyingly slavish to the multiple choice paradigm to illustrate his point of view.
      b) Not nearly as clever or intelligent as he thinks he is.
      c) Easily confused by biblical allegory not meant to be taken as literal.
      d) Possessing a personality type that derives self-esteem from demeaning others.
      e) All of the above.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
  20. Colin

    What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country utterly stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:

    (a) a horrid disease

    (b) a failed education system

    (c) a successful Al Qaeda plot; or

    (d) Christianity?

    December 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Dan

      I will go with d) Christianity.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • Dan

      Don't forget the magical rib and the invisible magician in the clouds.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • FrmrMrne

      Thanks for playing. And what would you call an evangelical Christian who comes to an atheist gathering to save souls for Christ? Just about what you would call an atheist who comes on belief blog to rant about how stooooooopid those people of faith are.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:28 am |
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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.