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. Brian

    I am not a Rush Limbaugh fan, though I have listened to him a few times and tend to agree with what he says. Nor am I Catholic. I am, however, a Christian.

    I don’t think the Pope is entirely wrong. He is correct in stating that the "idolatry of money" would lead to a "new tyranny." It is happening now.

    However, if the Pope is suggesting that the economy is better managed by government then he is being short-sighted to say the least. Government tends to mis-manage everything it touches. I hope I don’t need to provide examples.

    Jesus told us that we will have the poor with us always. This is not to say that we should not do what we can to help, quite the contrary. However, those who point to Jesus’ teachings as an argument for government welfare have it all wrong. Jesus teaches that it is the Church (the body of Christ) and individuals that should help the poor, not government.

    So what is wrong with the government helping the poor? The biggest argument is this: When government steps in to provide for the poor, the government becomes the first stop for those in need. Thus, government replaces God and the church to the detriment of the faith of those in need. Rather than pray to God as we are told (“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”) the needy just go down to the welfare office.

    Another reason is as mentioned above: government mis-management as well as the built in inefficiency. In order to get a government provided, or rather taxpayer-provided meal to someone in need, a whole bureaucracy has to be established. You have to pay someone to collect the taxes, then pay someone else to distribute the money. And of course you have to have several other people (bureaucrats) to manage it all. And since all these peopel need offices, there is the cost of office buildings, utilities, etc. So that $10 meal that is finally provided actually cost the taxpayer several times that amount.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  2. History Bear

    Capitalism is a fine program for those on top. The Catholic church has often worked hand in hand with the wealthy to support them . Now a pope comes along who focuses on what his church is supposed to be and he gets critized by a drug using egocentric neo-nazi just proves they are finally on the right track.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • southerngent

      Capitalism allows for freedom and done you well enough to allow you the freedom to criticize it. Remember you don't miss what you have until its gone!

      If Rush is wrong then prove or stfu.

      Obamacare is forced distribution of wealth.

      In my city a very caring, generous (real man), FUNDED and opened a large cancer center that not only will save the lives of many poor, middle class, and rich. As well as provide many jobs. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
      • Ellen Shaver

         GREAT COMEBACK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! See ya on the road folks .................

        December 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  3. SwilliamP

    In the Bible there was a Champion of the poor, who rose up against those whose wealth was their God and who despised the poor (and justice). He had to be destroyed because a band of powerful and well-connected men could not tolerate the world He advocated. These men were called Pharisees. Two millenia later they have an energetic disciple in Mr. Rush Limbaugh.ll

    December 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  4. Dr.Tesla

    Good Christians want to tax the heck out of people because government is God

    December 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Matt

      Only the poor go to heaven, according to Jesus anyway.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        All your knowledge of Jesus is hearsay.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
        • Matt

          Well the Bible is hearsay, so for once you're actually correct.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  5. Super Genius

    Who really cares what that bloated junkie thinks...

    December 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  6. Dr.Tesla

    A good Christian tries to have an abortion every year if possible.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  7. DocMagnus

    Anyone who thinks Rush Limbaugh has anyone's interests at heart but his own is a bloody idiot.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  8. RobNeckar

    If Limbaugh doesn't like what the Pope is saying then that just adds credibility to the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • As-if

      Well if the Pope really believes in "redistribution" he should practice what he preaches. The Catholic Church is worth billions in liquid assets and untold fortunes in collectibles, land leases and easements that are difficult to calculate. So put his money where his mouth is and start spreading the wealth.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
      • dreamduster

        The Pope believes nothing of what he speaks. He's eager to "SHARE" other people's wealth. It's like all lovers of Socialism: They think it's great as long as the government is not coming after their money. Eventually they come after all the wealth in an economy and then you have North Korea. Any of you leftist geniuses buying a ticket to that garden spot of economic equality?

        Let me guess ... hell no!

        December 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  9. Paul

    Rush has not been in the news lately so he needed to say something outrageous to get attention. Criticizing the Pope? Rush, you will be headed "down" rather than "up".

    December 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  10. Ricksta

    You know what the difference between Limbaugh and the pope is? The sack!

    December 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  11. biglio

    Rush is followed by 15 million morons while the Pope by 1.5 Billion people, guess who's irrelevant.........

    December 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  12. Kit

    Extremist to the right, such as Limbaugh are doing nothing but destroying our nation with their paranoia and well...extremism! The same goes for the extremist on the left. I think most the nation is starting to see that we need to meet in the middle, where most of us like to sit. We need to rid ourselves of the left and the right and just at least come to the close to the center. It is call compromise.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Kit

      I meant to say "to come as close to the center as possible."

      December 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  13. hey

    Rush, do the world a favor and get run over by a car.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • colby

      It would take a steam roller to put a dent in that blubber.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Patric Doyle

      As a Catholic who strongly supports Pope Francis and views Rush Limbaugh beyond the limits of decency, I find any expressions of hate and desire for bodily harm or death even more repulsive than Rush's most vile comments. By hoping that he gets run over by a car we lower ourselves to his level. The same God who will judge him will judge me, and I pray for the redemption of both of us.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  14. urr_qasdim

    Jesus was a person who, today, would be labeled Socialist, Communist and Marxist. The current Pope is following in Jesus' steps. What's wrong with that?

    December 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  15. Lenny Pincus

    Interestingly, two of the more notorious Christian big box stores–Walmart and Hobby Lobby–rely on Chinese gulags to produce their profit making products. Capitalism is so huggy bear.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  16. Farrok

    I have to side with the Pope on this one as the Christian Bible says, "The labor is due his wages." Why does American Management want to cheat it's workforce? The executives in American Industry are nothing but criminals and thieves. Instead of a bonus they should hang at the end of a hemp rope.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Dippy

      It's, not it's.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  17. Dusty

    Who the hell is Rush. He is a mouth that runs over. He is like Hilter was, tell people the same thing all the time and they start to believe it.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      I didn't know Hitler was for small government, tax cuts, etc. lol

      December 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
      • Matt

        No. He wasn't. Learn history.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Matt

      I hate Rush as much as the next intelligent human being, but I can't compare anyone to Hitler. Not even Rush is quite that disturbed. I have no doubt if he lived in 1930's and 40's Germany he would have been goosestepping with the best of them, but that's just an opinion.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        Hitler was a Socialist. Only difference b/t Hitler and people like you is he loved his country, libs hate America. lol

        December 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
        • Matt

          I'm a communist. So.... wrong again.

          December 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  18. Bob

    Most folks in the GOP like this guy so need I say anymore. I am expecting the GOP to go for a Palin/Limbaugh ticket .

    December 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Matt

      I'd be surprised if any of the next 3 presidents were Republican.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      The GOP has not won the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections; that selection would guarantee 6 out of 7.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  19. Dr.Tesla

    Jesus wants me to have an abortion.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Matt

      Wrong. He wanted your mother to have one.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
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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.