December 2nd, 2013
11:29 AM ET

Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(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 Religion Editor

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

soundoff (6,695 Responses)
  1. Lemon Talks

    any other article on the catholic church would of had hundreds of liberals / atheist blasting the catholic church.

    in this case they decide to go after limbaugh because i think they hate him more.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      Any other article would have had right wingers claiming it was an attack piece on christianity and a sign of how the left hates god.
      In this case right wingers like you dont know who to support.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • You're dumb

      No, we're going after Limbaugh because he's wrong.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Catherine

      I'm not Catholic. I believe the Catholic church has had major problems and I would be the first to criticize them. However, Pope Francis is the best thing to happen to the Catholic church in a very long time. He is living the closest to Jesus' teachings than any Pope in hundreds of years. He shuns wealth and embraces those who are 'the least of us'. This is precisely what threatens people like Palin, Varney, and Limbaugh.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Red Light Paradise

      You cant make lemonade from this.
      This guy is just too twisted to get it.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  2. paul reynolds

    Makes sense – after all those "Jesus Pills" surely the WartHog thinks He is God now!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  3. 2L

    OMG, here we go again....Rush, instead of insults, try to counter his arguments with FACTS, that's what in intelligent person would do...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • VJ

      Rush is the world's dumbest man in the world...He has no moral with poor....

      December 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  4. NE

    Someone should tell Limbaugh that the Pope is just following the original teachings of Christ. Therefore Christ must have been a Marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • igaftr

      chicken and egg.......Marx was a Christist. Christ was WAY before Marx.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Rembrant

      Marxism before Karl Marx?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • doughnuts

        Well, Obama does ahve that time machine of his...

        December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  5. doobzz

    This is a little like Curly saying Moe Is dopey.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  6. glonq

    WWJD? I kind of think that the real jeebus would be more similar to the pope than Rush. Especially in belt size...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  7. the one true god

    Rush is right– up with the rich, to hell with the poor, and pass the oxycontin.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  8. ChadTL

    Rush you are really showing your lack of intelligence. Ok, any Christian religious leader should not favor one government over another because they are considered Theo crates. God rules laws are supreme over any of mans laws. In other words if they are is a law that would violate their Christian faith then they would follow God's law first. It has been done down through history. That is why it troubles me that some of these so called religious right people are having issues even with the birth control subject. No one is telling you to kill your unborn child. If you want to commit murder you will the law of Christ should be written in your heart so no matter what law is made you should be compelled to do the right thing as for those deciding to do what the bible warns about then they will have to answer to God. Rush you such an idiot about a lot of things but stay out of religion because from a religious point of view you really sound like just want a argument and publicity.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  9. Ann C

    Why do we give Rush Limbaugh any air time? Time for advertisers to say they have had enough and start dropping him. The Pope...come on Rush your gold plated microphone shows how shallow and money driven you are, this is a Holy man who serves God to work for all mankind...something you have no idea about. You only work for your gold plated microphone. You Mr. Limbaugh are at the bottom of the bucket.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  10. Sal Martorano

    Death to all right wingers like limbaugh et al! 

    December 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  11. Big_D

    I am glad the Catholic Church is finding their way back to religion.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Ann C


      December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  12. longfoot

    The Pope is a Marxist and Rush is a drug addict. I'm not a Catholic but I guess the Pope has a tad more credibility.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  13. me

    First Sarah Palin questions the Pope, then Rush Limbaugh... Yup, Conservative Republicans disagree with everyone... first they flushed "Family Values" down the toilet, next up... Religion. What next, guns? The party of lunacy... the party that was more upset about a website failure than it was with an unnecessary war that killed thousands of human beings, including their own. Anyone that sides with the likes of these filthy people should be ashamed...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  14. Dude

    What do you expect, Jesus was a communist too.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • AnotherPerson

      I think you meant socialist. Communism (at least as commonly known today) is a political system and Jesus did not associate with any political system...he was outside of politics. Of course, communists ignore the fact that Marx's high-phase communism was a system with no government. And as commonly understood today, communism is atheistic by law...which Jesus was definitely against.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  15. Rhett

    The fact that Rush Limpbaugh isn't a fan of the Pope gives me great hope for the Catholic Church.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Anna1953


      December 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Anna1953

      Rush thinks "someone wrote it for him"????? How pathetic can you get...

      December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  16. paul reynolds

    Why do his "Ditto" dums pay out $Millions to flock to such a Sweaty WartHog drug addict with NO actual Credentials other than being able to talk in a low, fake, pretend-to-be-important grovely Voice!??

    December 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  17. B

    Amen – guess Rush doesn't know about a thing called the New Testament

    December 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • me

      You could have stopped after "doesn't know a thing"

      December 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  18. Rob

    Just shows you how far the GOP is off the reservation. When you're to the right of the Catholic Church, then you know there's something wrong with you and your party.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  19. Grampa

    Unfettered capitalism can lead to a stratified society with some very wealthy and many poor. But capitalism with proper controls in place, to prevent the wealthy from suppressing and feeding off the poor, can work. It helped make America the richest nation in history with a thriving middle class living quite well. That the conservatives have succeeded in gutting many of those controls and unfettering banks and investment houses so they can make reckless investments with other peoples' money has led to a shrinking middle class and greater economic disparity, not to mention a recession from which the economy still struggles to recover. The Pope was right to criticize this trend. Limbaugh, who came to us straight out of Animal Farm, rails against the Pope or anyone else who suggests that capitalism ought to be practiced on a more level playing field, and that those who have much should share a bit with those who have little. What a wonderful Scrooge he would make. "Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?" The difference is that the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future would likely make little impression on heartless, money-hungry Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • JA

      One of my business professors called on "refereed capitalism"....having enough controls in place to prevent the wealthy from taking unfair advantage of their position.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • CJ

      Exactly Grampa, we need regulated capitalism, something we have stopped, and something that even the Far Right Christian leaders are against, such as Pat Robertson and his like. In fact, almost ALL on the Christian televangelists I see push for unregulated capitalism, against Healthcare for the poor. What has happened to us? Speaking of Charles Dickens, in his novels Scrooge was the bad guy, in this day and age and according to many of our Christian leaders, what would he be? I welcome this Pope, putting forth Jesus' teachings of LOVE.

      December 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  20. rick

    Maybe Rush is a agent of the Devil/? and for all lies he spreads he will one day burn for all his evil deeds.
    but don't worry Rush you will be in good company in hell- Cruz, Ryan, John Banner, Mark Levine, Sarah, Koch brothers, all tea party members & most of the Republican Party.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:36 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.