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. mkevinf

    While Francis does point to the "trickle down" economics specifically, the RCC has always been "to the left" when it comes to matters of social justice. It's really a reflection on Limbaugh that he is reacting to something, which he appears not to have read, and if so, has completely taken it out of the context of traditional RCC teachings on social justice.

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

    Limbaugh...please...retire to your hate cave.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  3. godofmusic


    December 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  4. middle age man

    Marxism!? Try the Gospel, RL. Perhaps Rush and company think Jesus was the original Marxist. Hope some one asks him that on the air. I'm not Catholic but find the new Pope to be refreshing compared to his predecessors.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |

      Yes, he is refreshing! He loves gays.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  5. Gary J Carlin

    Dear Rush please sell some of your pills I need to as HIGH as you. Can you hear me HA HA.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  6. Rich

    Does Rush have a group of advisors or does he just pull stuff like this out of his butt?

    December 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • darth cheney

      He pulls it out, pushes it back in, pulls it out, pushes it back in, and so on...

      December 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  7. Jon

    Why does anyone listen to that fat head? All he ever has to say are variations of "Ee-yaaah!!!"

    December 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  8. Mr. Hall

    Rush using the Pope for ratings. Hate sells.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  9. Mark of Tennessee

    This darn fool is off his meds again... Oxycontin DTs..

    December 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  10. Andy

    Rush is right and unless this is a misinterpretation by the Pope's socialist handler's, then we have an ignorant socialist as our new Holy Father.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      In reality, we have someone who has actually studied Jesus' teachings.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • monkfish21

      I suppose you might have a better understanding of religious doctrine and a greater depth of biblical knowledge than the Holy Father. But since you don't even know how to use apostrophes correctly, I kinda doubt it.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  11. Texasmike

    Isn't there anyone who he doesn't hate? I know that ultimately Rush is going to hell, but he sure wants to spew his garbage on everyone before he goes.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Jamal

      Judge not, lest ye be judged.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • Rich

        Ok, go ahead and judge me, Jamal. You and Rush are full of sh**.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  12. Hank

    This is funny. I hope Jesus finds this whole thing as sadly hilarious as I do. Here's the fat-assed champion of capitalism who made a fortune slandering and exaggerating his opponents to greedy dupes, and on the other side the head of vandalism incorporated threatening the ignorant poor and rich alike for a bite of the slice. Neither of these two have ever worked for a living and both are filthy rich. May God have mercy on you both. Bet neither can make the eye needle.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  13. coo001

    Its funny that all you Rush haters are the very reason that anytime he says something controversial he makes headlines because you all react so loudly about it. If you didn't pay attention to him he would fade away

    December 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  14. Dave

    Republican party suicide watch. News at 11!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • coo001

      not even close. He exists because the left likes to place the gop blame on him

      December 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • Texasmike

        That doesn't make sense. He exists to feed hate and bile into your daily spite filled diets.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  15. Am_man

    Time is running out for the fat pig!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  16. T

    ......Pray for Doctor Tesla.................his mind and spirit has been WARPED by the radical right conservative rabies.............

    December 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  17. Adam

    it's appalling how far the right wing and the millions they have brainwashed will go to make the rich richer and to wage continual war on the poor. I wish these followers of Christ of which there are legions in G_d's favourite land America would wake up and begin to live according to the gospel of Christ – above all charity and giving versus taking.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Norm

      Yes, there's a conservative war on the poor. We'd like to see less of them. Liberals on the other hand just keep making more.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  18. Gideon Asche

    c'mon who cares what this idiot says...

    listening to anything Rush says is like listening to Sarah Palin or Teddy the Tea party Traitor or that Maggot Benedict Allen West.

    most Americans are smarter than that.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • darth cheney

      Technically correct, but still 30-40% of Americans seem to concoct their vision of reality directly or indirectly through him.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  19. Gary

    Sorry, Rush, it's not Marxism but the application of Jesus's teaching. Try reading your Bible sometime.

    December 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  20. cross eyed mary

    We love hitler

    December 2, 2013 at 4:03 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.