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. John Silvis

    I think Rush is playing on the ignorance of his audience. I know what Marxism is and Rush has no idea what Marxism is and is not and is playing us for chumps...as always. He survives on ignorance and stale irrational prejudices. I am an atheist. I have no desire to defend the Pope, at all. But I hate ignorance and politically based lies. Fact is if what the Pope said is Marxist then Jesus Christ, somebody that Rush doesn't understand, is also Marxist. Rush go wash you mouth out with soap. Get a life. Get and economic morality. Rush is hypocritical nut who defends fraud, theft and fiduciary criminal behaviors a the basis of his criminal mindset. Rush thinks Breaking Repeat: If the Pope is a Marxist then so was Jesus. ALL Biblical writing and teaching support me here. And I speak as a non-believer. I just hate ignorance, hypocrisy and bigotry Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Magister

      It's appropriate, since Obama always plays on the ignorance of his supporters.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  2. Dr.Tesla

    God wants us to be friends with racist hatemongers like Jeramiah Wright and unrepetent former terrorists like Bill Ayers.

    Obama is the very face of God. lol And God can't design a website. lol

    December 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      Here we go... Yep its a troll!

      December 2, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Phillip

      I don't really care if people insult the President on here, but it would be nice to have some of the insults be fact based. Honestly, I don't think people are stupid enough to belileve that Obama is in a room helping to design a website and carefully managing its rollout. He is the President, he delegates authority, or responsibility to those who have expertise in the field. That is just common sense

      December 2, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  3. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
  4. Rob

    Amazing that Rush would go with ' I think he wants to influence my politics.' when the message is against he 'financial faith' but when the church intervenes in everything else of personal choices or being he is right there for it.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  5. Craig

    So, would you rather be poor in America or somewhere with more "equality"? Since China adopted free market principles, over one billion Chinese have risen from absolute desperate poverty, and inequality has skyrocketed in China. You think the Chinese are listening to the Pope and want to go back to full-on Communism? After all, Communism is "fair".

    December 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Maddy

      The Pope isn't advocating Communism, either. Good Lord.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  6. Dr.Tesla

    God wants us to legalize illegal immigrants because why not? lol

    December 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Maddy

      Troll is obvious troll.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
      • Matt

        It's still funny because he thinks it's funny. It's like watching a 6 year old tell jokes. They're terrible, but the fact they're making an effort is amusing.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  7. cm

    @Tesla, the difference between Rush and Obama is Obama dabbled in crack but has never said drug addicts belong in prison with long sentences. Rush dabbles in drugs and says all addicts belong in prison... except him because he just had a health problem.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      Difference b/t drug addicts who sell drugs to little kids at the schoolyard and somebody like Rush. He never talked that much about drugs though, they had to go back to lik 1994 for a drug releated quote.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • sftommy

      Oh no, Obama will let you see a doctor and see you're fed

      Rush, well Rush is gonna beat them kids to that last splash of gravy whether he lives or dies waddling to that filthy spot of food on the floor.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  8. Mike`

    Maybe the draft dodging big boned bimball can lecture on service to country as well

    December 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • MakesSense

      So many of you try to out-do the others with your "clever" responses. In fact, you are so immersed in doing so, that you completely ignore the realities of the statements that you are responding to. You, your families, and your families children will be enslaved because of your current beliefs. You will eventually understand what was true, but it will be too late. Foolish pride will be your demise. Giving all the power to the government is absolutely no different than giving all the power to a large company. Corruption ensues. This is exactly what our founding fathers tried to guard against. You think that any politician that wants to get rid of the rich for the good of the poor is a hero, while he is simply trying to buy more influence and control with somebody else' money. Wake up!

      December 2, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
      • Nitchka465mj

        agreed, wake up is long over due, the government should be the watchdog of capitalism run wild.

        December 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  9. sftommy

    Rush is anti-Jesus.

    Who knew?
    Ha, every honest Christian knew...and knew where he would lead the GOP in his anti-Christian crusade against the poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • MakesSense

      Aren't YOU against the poor? Sounds like you want to get rid of them by giving them things. Most of them don't need freebees, they need education. They can then be contributing members of this great country.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  10. Dr.Tesla

    Bush's case for war in Iraq was much better than Obama's case for war in Syria. It wasn't even clear who the good guys are in Syria. lol He was going to have us team up with al queda types to take out the Syrian government. lol

    December 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Matt

      You mean those al queda types that Reagan funded?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Jack The Tripper

      We are not at war with Syria, moron.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • doobzz

      Which case? The imaginary WMDs or the imaginary directive that "god told me" to invade Iraq?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  11. Matt

    Let's not be so down on Rush folks. After all think about how many lives that walking buffet will save when the zombie apocalypse comes.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • sftommy

      "Walking buffett"
      ~smilin' out loud~

      December 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
      • Matt

        I wasn't sure if it was two t's or one. I suck.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • P666540

      How irresponsible. Rush will contribute almost nothing to ZombieFestFeast; Zombies eat brains. BTW, I have T-shirts available for anyone with that special Zombie in their life.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  12. Mopery

    How long before the Tea Party holds up signs of the Pope dressed as an African shaman with a bone through his nose?

    December 2, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  13. Dr.Tesla

    Jesus wanted us to do war in Libya and Syria but not Iraq.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Phillip

      The difference is Bush ignored anyone who opposed his plan to go to war with Iraq and did it anyway. Obama may have wanted to go to war with Syria but specifically asked congress for their take and listened when the voting majority was against it......do you see the distinction?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  14. Craig

    I can guess as to how much money is given to the poor by all the vocal supporters of the Pope's economic nonsense. It ain't much. And I can guess how many want to move to the paragons of equality called Cuba, North Korea and now Venezuela.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  15. mike

    The GOP Leadership can now add the Pope to it's hate list, along with women, poor folks, immigrants, minorities.and those who die from lack of healthcare. All I have to say is when judgement day arrive you may not want to be to close to a republican, unless you want an eternity of very,very warm weather.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  16. Dr.Tesla

    I miss Bush's economy. If Obama;s approach is what the Pope wants to see more of, he is clearly wrong. lool

    December 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Matt

      You'd be the only one. Not even Bush misses the economy from his time in office.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • OK

      Me too. Ah, for the good old days of losing 800,000 jobs per month, and the stock market at 6500.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Jack The Tripper

      of course you do, you're an idiot.

      Funny how Bush entered office with a surplus. I forget if there was one when he left.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  17. Ctrygrl

    If I remember correctly wasn't Marx an atheist. To call an exhortation to help the poor, the hungry and the downtrodden Marxist is just strange. As for the Pope's economic theories, the Pope by all appearances is an extremely intelligent man but you don't have to be very bright and only moderately observant to understand "trickle down economics" never worked and never will.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  18. spockmonster

    People Rush is a TROLL. He doesn't mean anything he says, everything he says it calculated to get a lot of response and make money for himself. DON'T FEED THE TROLLS

    December 2, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  19. MashaSobaka

    If this guy heard Jesus Christ give a speech, he'd call him a Marxist liberal commie enabler etc. etc. too.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Theology Teacher

      I couldn't agree more! Mr Limbaugh, have you ever read the Gospels? What did you think Jesus was preaching? Let's just say that true Christianity looks more like Marxism than pure American greed.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  20. Josh

    What a surprise. The new pope comes out telling the Catholic Church to stop being capitalist, and Rush Limbaugh, a typical right wing rebublican, doesn't like it. Shocking.

    December 2, 2013 at 5:38 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.