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. Portland tony

    If Limbaugh (or Palin) knew a little more about Marxism and it's concepts, they wouldn't made those stupid naive statements. Better yet, if they knew anything about the true teachings of the Christian or any religion, which speak to the poor masses of a society, they would keep their hypocritical mouths shut.......The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! "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." ,,,They were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?"…......Certainly not Rush or Sarah! LOL

    December 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Mark

      Good one, Tony LOL and I am not even Catholic.
      Rush preaches exactly to the crowd that the Pope
      admonishes – the worshipers of the Almighty $

      December 7, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Walter Johnson

      Hello Portland Tony, the real answer to your question, "Then who can be saved?" is spoken by Jesus, "But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

      If we are relying on men to save us, no matter which man, or even all humans combined, it is impossible, can't be done! But with God....even the salvation of a human or all humans, is possible for through His Son God has made a way. God also gave us free will to choose.

      As for the words of Rush, study the hierarchy of Marxism and how it exists in the real world, and study the Vatican and you will see that both are run by a small ruling group holding what amounts to dictatorial power over the masses. (no pun intended)

      December 11, 2013 at 1:20 am |
  2. Byrd

    So the Pope is preaching pure Marxism. Well good. About time somebody did. Much better than the pure bs Rush and his crew spew for their daily bread.

    December 7, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  3. XLT22

    What if it turns out that the Pope was merely stating some of the same beliefs that Jesus Christ himself once declared? Ideas such as: true Christians will gladly make major sacrifices from their personal wealth to help the poor and less fortunate among us. Or that all of us, as habitual sinners in our own right, should tread very carefully in rushing to make highly negative judgments of other people, before even trying to understand their unique situation or plight. Or that simply turning away from all violence (and towards love) may be more Christian than exercising our legal "rights" to defend our property by force. Would Rush then be compelled to call Jesus Christ himself a Marxist or a "Commie"??

    December 7, 2013 at 5:43 am |
    • Walter Johnson

      Helping the poor. Go back to the colonization of the new world to find out how the two systems of "Christianity" helped the poor. The Protestants colonized North America, specifically the United States. The Roman Catholic countries, Spain and Portugal, colonized Mexico, Central and South America. For a quick history lesson on New world economics, and what the results of living under a Protestant controlled government, the US, and Catholic controlled governments, Mexico, Central and South America have been, check what took place in the Western Hemisphere colonization.
      Just a hint here, the United States became a flourishing land of economic dynamism, and everything south of the US border was a mass of dirt poor farmers, barefoot, unable to feed their children, until the last 50 to 75 years.
      Now tell me, who do you really want ruling over you, and who has really helped the poor?

      December 8, 2013 at 3:30 am |
      • Gua ID

        i am Chinese and i am an atheist,i am an in born Capitalist, I dont believe in God,I promise I will make my country the richest in the whole world in the next generation

        December 9, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • Theodore

          Yes, apparently I am not talking about atheists here. I'm talking about those who claim they are christians without realizing what being a christian means. As for you, before conquering the world, you better deal with a couple of your phychological problems first.

          December 9, 2013 at 11:31 am |
      • Theodore

        I'm afraid you didn't reply to XLT22's comment. What all these things you said have to do with what Christ taught? Protestants or Catholics, who cares, that's not the debate. We are not comparing "brands" here. The debate I think is whether our modern western way of living is consistent with what Jesus was teaching.

        December 9, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • Walter Johnson

          Sorry I did reply but I guess it was too long to post will try again when able.

          December 11, 2013 at 1:21 am |
  4. what1ever

    Calling the Pope a Marxist is like calling the President a Monarchist. Limbaugh is so out of touch with reality that it boggles my mind.

    December 5, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  5. Angelina



    December 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  6. Quest ion

    How can Marxism be "pure"?

    Is Limbaugh deluded?

    Is he Catholic?

    Is he still using pills?

    December 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Grand

      1) It can't.
      2) Yes.
      3) No.
      4) Most likely.

      December 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
      • Quest ion

        Thanks for answering!! :-)

        December 6, 2013 at 9:54 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.