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. Brcats

    On the one side we have a man who is educated and holds a position of prestige and power that few ever even get a chance to pursue and on the other we have a man who failed out of college and figured out how to use his loud moth and inflammatory comments to build an audience.

    Which one would you listen to?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  2. MartinAmerica

    3230 comments and counting (including this one). That's pretty good ad money off the back of someone with over 14 million more of an audience. Mission accomplished CNN.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  3. disanitnodicos

    Marxism is a religion. It relies upon blind faith and it promises great things in the future for sacrifices today.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Earthling

      I don't think you know what faith means. It means to believe without evidence or reason. Marxists believe, incorrectly or not, on an inevitable failure of capitalism. Regardless of whether or not the theory pans out, it is not the same thing as blind faith. That is reserved for religious nutbags.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  4. unmarshal

    This is front page news on CNN? No wonder CNN has lost all respect and relevancy.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  5. Hal

    Surely to Heaven no one takes this ignorant pig Limbaugh seriously. He is so thoroughly disgusting, and defies understanding of any kind. He needs to be off the air, so he can take his Oxi in a padded room by himself.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  6. MIKE

    so rush finally noticed how similar christianity and communism are? so which one is the religion of the republican party that they talk about all the time? i get those confused....

    December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  7. mark

    Rush has a condition and should be easy on him. He has Cronic Penal erectorius shrinkage.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  8. Erik

    The pope is now too liberal for republicans. It was bound to happen.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  9. jimbo0117

    Mr. Limbaugh wants to keep worshiping at the alter of capitalism – fine. The Pope is more interested in people's souls.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  10. Patrick

    Let's see – who said ". . .it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."? Very Marxist, right Rush? I think you can find it in Mark 10:25, quoting some nice Jewish man who went by the name of Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • ThisandThat

      Jesus was never Jew, that was a mockery that pilates said to the jews, Jesus was Phoenician, so get Your bearings.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
      • Patrick

        Missed that part of the bible. Joseph and Mary apparently were not aware of that, so they raised him in their faith.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Agape


          December 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
      • Agape

        You've used too much acid and meth. It's obvious that you lack knowledge about Jesus not being a Jew. (And that's with a CAPITAL"J" dork. Phoenician? Whew... That's a new one.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
        • Patrick

          Think he was trying to say "Pharisees"? A member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form.

          December 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Wishing I were Jamie Lynn Grumet's little man

      da' man said it.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |

    The Guns Over People tea potty domestic terrorists would call Jesus a marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Wishing I were Jamie Lynn Grumet's little man

      regardless ...he was really murdered for his socialist ways, he made the periphrasis look bad. They kill the messenger and go back to pedophilia ways until up pops a real Pope and his name is Francis I'm not catholic or a western christian and even I like this man. I find him to be remarkable in a time of less remarkable men. Poor Rush, like many he's a "COMMON" man and I'm sure Pope Francis will forgive him in his prayers.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  12. K. Hunter

    Maybe the Pope sounds that way because Jesus was a socialist.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  13. Dan the Man

    CNN, does anything Rush Limbaugh blurts out deserve to be front page news? I think the CNN editorial staff needs to do a little soul searching. Nations do not rise and fall on the words of Rush Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • doobzz

      Yeah, but the Comments Section does, apparently.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  14. ursy

    Rush just DIE ……The world is so sick of your lies

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  15. proshooter

    So, that means Jesus was anti American, as the Pope preaches what Jesus taught. Why do people listen to this faciest Limbaugh? I think Limbaugh is a deciple of Hitler.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  16. Ol' Yeller


    "If he thinks the Pope is Marxist, he ought to read what Jesus said."

    Bravo! Excellent post... humorful, succinct, hard hitting and poignant .

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  17. mcdanel1771

    Rush and his ilk need to bush up in the words of Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  18. ThisandThat

    What the Pope is saying "stop scamming people from its money because oilers are screwing every single soul in this world, Governments had become mercenaries who steal with "taxes", and members of the armed forces are killing innocent people around the world to steal the natural resources, and controlling food supply, USA Israel and England are doing that and get away with it, the economic meltdown was a fraud that left many residents without a home, USA didn't pay its debts to the rest of the world and dragged many countries to bankruptcy" should I continue???

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Earthling

      Yes, the USA has never not paid its debts as you claim. Not a single time in its history.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Agape

      Yup. Stay on your meds,

      December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  19. Warrior Wizard

    I'm beginning to really like this pope. Much better than the na%i before. Unlike Rush, this pope knows the gospel, and what it really means. Kudos!!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • JES

      Couldn't have said it better!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  20. Four Two

    Coming from slime bag like Rush, I wouldn't take these comments to heart.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Elvis Westly

      Your real concern should be about your teeth not getting the shape of Obamas big toe from sucking so dramatically for any sign of his wand waving over your head with an atta-boy!!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Rick

      Does anyone edit these stories? Plenty of typos. As for Rush-bag, what does he know about anything good or holy. He worships the holy $$$ and that is it. Preach hate collect $$$. Don't listen to him.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:49 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.