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. cross eyed mary

    Hitler was divine

    December 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  2. shawn l

    Lol what doe she think Jesus was? Jesus was the original communist.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • nirm

      Jesus was a radical jew, however unlike his modern day counterparts, he was mild humble, mild-mannered, softspoken, practices what he preached – a truly godlike figure!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  3. Rush is great

    Rush would be a great feast for any cannibal tribe.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • monkfish21

      My guess is even cannibals would pass. To bitter.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  4. Faithful

    Huge mistake Rush. You just offended millions of conservative Catholics. Did you really think we would chose your words and actions over the Pope's? Regardless of your beliefs, be respectful of others.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  5. columbus

    As usual, Rush has spouted off on a controversial subject with his head firmly in place up his own anal cavity. I believe what this Pope is implying and trying to correct is the tenants of Christian and biblical charity towards those in need against the backdrop of immense wealth within the Vatican. What is obvious and easier to admit in 2013 is the corruption of the Vatican, but Francis separates the Vatican from the church, he can only do so much against this powerful organization. It would be equivalent to a godfather trying to decriminalize the Mafia.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  6. Roger America

    I agree with Rush, the Pope should be more American. I'm going straight to the mall to return my new Adidas Pope Francis IV shoes right now!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Deus Ibi Est

      He's Pope Francis I actually.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
      • Roger America

        True, but just like DRose, these are the 4th edition of his famous Pontiff High-Tops...

        December 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  7. Peter

    He's certainly not helping to change the image of the Republican party as a party who have been taken over by crazies.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  8. Marlyn Sullivan

    I would never believe a thing that Rush Limbaugh says. Never NEVER!!'m

    December 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  9. Rush is great

    Rush s great to wipe feet on.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  10. MartinAmerica

    Prominent conservative disagrees with religious figure. Low rated news network gleefully uses comments to troll for click dollars from viewership who probably very rarely cares what either believes on any subject.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • darth cheney

      Prominent conservative exposes blatant hypocrisy among right wing. Also exposes a complete ignorance of what Marxism is.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  11. Jib76

    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 3:58 pm |
    • Norm

      So even Jesus called lazy liberals 'sheep'.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • darth cheney

        Thank you for demonstrating how conservatives analyze and make conclusions.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  12. T

    ....Well, Da POPE cant,..........but I will.......................RUSH IS A DIK

    December 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  13. Warrior Wizard

    Yes, but pretty close. Look what the wealthy do to take $$$$$ from any and everywhere. Don't care what damage they cause, as long as they "get theirs". I like this new pope........

    December 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm |

    I have said it many times...Rush is not on loan from God. I am wrong...Rush is on loan from God. Rush is to show what a hypocrite acts like just in the time of Jesus. Know one by their fruits?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  15. ed

    You guys are all so full of hate you might be missing the argument.
    We must teach people how to make their own wealth, not force it away form others. When you take it by force, no more wealth will be made. Once it is used up everyone starves. There are many examples. Stop hating and think.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • WWJD

      I don't think anyone would disagree with you that they want jobs and to make there own money but people work at Walmart and still need food stamps to survive and the Walton's make billions each year.. They can't help there there employees and thus the government a little by raising salaries? When is enough, enough? No one wants to take the whole thing down but to say some type of redistribution isn't necessary when you have a system that allows that type of greed to exist seems disingenuous at best,.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  16. Patrick Quon

    You have to be a fairly dim bulb to not know that the teachings of Jesus Christ are very similar to what modering right-wingers call "Marxism". Jesus taught that if you had two pairs of shoes and came upon a man with no shoes, you should give him your extra pair. Sharing and caring, that's what Christianity is really about, not greed and hoarding wealth. If this Pope is freaking out Limbaugh, then he must be saying something right!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit


      Sorry Rush, but the Pope is reflecting Jesus's words, as he should. If you're a Christian, and you find a problem with them, maybe you should look to that beam in your own eye?

      December 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  17. iReason

    Rush "let them eat cake" Limbaugh once again strikes a chord that smacks of his personal role as protector of the greedy and the mean spirited.

    Rush. You had better hope that the masses bring back the guillotine, then it will be quick and easy.

    We know that you got hooked on your drugs because it was the only way you could sleep at night.

    Bravo Rush. Another nail in your box.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  18. mitchyj

    Rush has 15 million listeners. Proof positive that their are at least 15 mental midgets in America. He is truly a waste of blubber.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Peter

      According to the ratings, his average age listener is nearly 70!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  19. Wauwatosa Man

    Rush claims he's outraged at the pope...hmf
    The only outrage out there is that drones actually support you and have allowed a bloated pigman like yourself to remain on the air so long.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  20. Bribarian

    He should be screened for jewery as well.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:57 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.