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. SAM STONE !



    BYE BYE!!


    C YA!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
  2. Chloe

    Many of Jesus teachings were left of center.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Observer


      December 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  3. JerseyJeff78

    So myopic.

    The Pope stands for only through the eyes of morality. He does not see things through how we see conservative or liberal and there are Catholic beliefs that one would consider both "liberal" and "conservative."

    December 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  4. Isabella
    December 2, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  5. Journey

    Religion hurts everything. Just look at what they did to the Boy Scouts. They turned it into a religious paramilitary organization like Hezbollah.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • HZD

      Clearly you've never belonged to the Boy Scouts! Religious paramilitary group? Hardly. Try a bunch of awkward boys sitting around in a circle taking turns spraying bug repellent on the fire and watching it flame up. I never saw anything creepy or cultish during my time there. The closest thing to creepy were the families who didn't seem to know that there were other worthwhile pursuits besides the BSA. But those people weren't creepy, just a little sad. And they were also the least religious.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  6. Jib76

    Is Mr. Limbaugh a false prophet? A false messiah? Sarah Palin? Matthew 24:24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Who should we listen to? John 6:67-69
    New International Version (NIV) 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” What does Jesus say? John 21:14-17 New International Version (NIV) 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep!"

    December 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  7. Bardamu

    It's doubtful that Mr. Limbaugh believes even a small percentage of the drivel that falls from his mouth. Essentially he is paid to prattle on for hours a day so the drones who listen to him can repeat his inane ideas as though they were their own. That is the raison d'etre of the celebrity political pundit, right or left. Eventually something he says makes a headline with enough frequency for him to maintain his near non-existent cultural relevancy and collect a pay stub.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  8. underwater ops

    So.... Rush feels Christ was a Marxist!? The Pope is only returning the church to those teachings.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  9. gopersareignorant

    And the gops and bags still worship the limturd.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  10. dcase20

    Arch Bishop: Pope Francis, an American on political talk radio named Rush Limbaugh is making disparaging comments about you calling you a Marxist.
    Pope Francis: Who's that? No seriously, I have absolutely no idea because I am the pope and he is a radio disc jockey.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • mike

      Lol, true

      December 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  11. Fritz Hohenheim

    Well we know Limbaugh is a moron, just right up the alley with his pal Palin. Alas too many "pauperi spiritu" take them sriously.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  12. Booro

    50 years after Rush is dead and gone no one will even remember him, but 1000 years after that every one will remember Evangelli Gaudium.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  13. Liz

    A college dropout drug-addled plutocratic pundit challenges an educated and moral man, like comparing Beavis and Butthead to a Nobel Laureate.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • stan

      not bad

      December 2, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  14. Jeff

    WOW! We agree on something!
    I listen to Rush in the late 80's when I thought he was actually supporting a cause, but found out otherwise as time went by. I called him gush windbag for the longest time. I even thought he was the jesuit because of some of the stand ins he would use were jesuits, but then again this is how they work too, they take any side that will further their own cause. Who knows!

    December 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  15. dcase20

    So what! Let him go after the Pope. Now Catholics will see him for what he is. A bully behind a microphone. Unlike Catholics, his social movement is based on belligerence and antagonism and done on the golden toilet he calls a microphone.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
  16. Joseph Brown

    Wow...I hope one of Rush's friends pulls him into a back room and yells at him to shut up.
    He's getting out of control (again).

    December 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • middle america man

      From what I read, he's actually kind of a lonely guy so he might not have anyone around to warn him, other than paid sycophants or the cleaning lady he sent out to score narcotics for him. But the upside is that he's known to spend a LOT of time on the Internet so maybe he'll read something and repent. Or maybe he'll just crush up and snort some more Oxy.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  17. Journey

    So now even the Pope has to turn to socialism for spiritual and economic relief. This is the level of desperation that the Obama Administration has driven the world into. We can no longer hide it.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Observer


      LOL. Good one. So President Obama is controlling the Pope.

      LOL again.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
      • Observer

        LOL DODO

        December 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
      • Observer

        LOL DODO



        December 2, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
      • Observer

        LOL DODO



        I LOVE ME

        December 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • mike

      Life is what you make of it, I am not desperate why are you?

      December 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • stan

      I see you've drunk a lot of Rush's koolaid. Just keep in mind Rush is a drug addled bigot who helped create a climate of hate resulting in the OKC bombing. Yeah just keep following Rush as he is obviously your messiah along with the Tea Baggers (Party) primary spokesman.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
      • stan

        u have 0 proof

        December 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  18. All the evidence we have points away from a personal god.

    prove it!







    C YA

    December 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • FrmrMrne

      What evidence proves the non-existence of something? Logic much?

      December 3, 2013 at 12:21 am |

  19. There is no God. Only Excellence in Broadcasting.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  20. RobertTT

    Smart capitalists know good and well that the wage disparity is not fair and is only possible due to the literally billions in other parts of the world working for peanuts while they live like kings.

    Unethical capitalists don't care.

    Rush is definitely at least one of those and we know which one.

    Trickle down economics stopped working about 20 years ago and has accelerated in the last 10 when jobs started to be exported to third world countries and not to the benefit of all.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
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About this blog

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.