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. Kitty 105

    Pope Francis is like a breath of fresh air; he is not afraid to speak truth to power, and I greatly admire him. Maybe the Pope's message landed a little to close to home for some people?

    December 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      Air, indeed... hot air!

      December 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
      • Kitty 105

        The hot air is blowing out of Florida!

        December 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
      • doobzz

        @Mrs. Travis


        December 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  2. fr114

    Rush preaches lies, hate, insults, unfounded fear, manufactured crisis and scandal, war mongering, racism, negativism and that's all on his being nice days.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      lol, how does the party of Obama, the guy who lied over and over about O-Care not preventing u from keeping your doctor and that it woudl reduce premiums for most people, call anybody a liar?

      You guys have a monopoloy on lying right now.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
      • Matt

        A) It's spelled m-o-n-o-p-o-l-y.
        B) You need to look up the definition of the word.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  3. Jon

    Will somebody please put Rush out of this misery. This fat piece of fecal material needs to be flushed.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Dwayne

      We should separate the country in half. Let the card carrying Republicans do business with only fellow Republicans and vice versa with the Dems. They would soon learn Capitalism doesn't work for the rich unless there are poor to do the actual work.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  4. aroomadazda

    Hey Stuart Varney, capitalism is an economic system, not a political one. One can criticize elements of capitalism, as the Pope did, without criticizing democracy.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  5. Eioljg

    Exactly why does any news organization consider Rush qualified to speak on the subject of the Bible or Catholicism? Why is this newsworthy? Why not interview my pastor about this or perhaps the head of a protestant seminary? Why pay attention to Rush at all?

    December 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  6. VoiceOfReason

    The Pope is merely echoing the teachings of Jesus. If that's an affront to Rush and his ilk – well I guess that says more about Rush and his followers than it does about the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  7. loki

    Says the leader of one of the gayest child molesting organizations EVER. Really now? What else do you have to say?

    December 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  8. Sharon

    that's Rush…IDIOCY!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  9. justsane

    perhaps this will finally be the tipping point that causes mr. limbaugh's faithful followers to desert him in droves.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      why is is clear Rush is right if you read Pope's words. No conservative will disagree with Rush

      December 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
      • Observer

        Limbaugh keeps showing over and over why he was a miserable college FLUNKOUT.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          rush is doing better than most college grads. lol you overestimate the importance of college

          December 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
        • Matt

          Yeah! Who needs college! You can have a wonderful job at Walmart. Who wouldn't want that?

          December 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          most liberal arts degrees are worthless. I have a mechanical engineering degree.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
        • Matt

          Well thanks for providing information nobody asked for. I have a Computer Science degree. It has nothing to do with anything but I have one.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  10. Aanseburied

    I think I'll side with the guy who has 1.5 billion listeners on this one.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • whaaa

      "Someone has gotten to him". Wouldn't that be God?

      December 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • skione13

      So you don't listen to the guy with 15 billion listeners, fantastic logic there dunce

      December 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  11. Dr.Tesla

    there wasn't much money for Jesus to redistribute back in those days. lol

    People only lived to the ripe old age of 35 or so. lol

    December 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Matt

      Actually, assuming you made it out of infancy, people in ancient times had a much better chance of reaching the age of 60 than we do.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        ok well if true that means goverhment isn't needed because they obviously had less welfare propgrams back then

        December 2, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
        • Matt

          The church was the welfare program back then.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  12. Shelia

    Nuns trapped as al Qaeda-linked rebels seize Christian town in Syria

    December 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Matt

      Well maybe they should pray to be saved. After all look at how many times prayer has saved people!..... what? never?.....ohhhh.... that's bad for them.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  13. Carlos

    Rush is like the delusional, narcissistic, ignorant, and frantic Gidget, the taco bell Chihuahua, barking at a gentle giant, English Mastiff, Hercules of a Pope Francis... (I am sure Gidget is an amazing Chihuahua, not worthy of my comparisons, but you get my point)...

    December 2, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • frank

      typical ignorant liberal...don't insult just because you don't understand what Rush is saying

      December 2, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
      • Matt

        It would help if Rush knew what he was talking about.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
      • Al

        The shoe fits both you and Rush. If not please enlighten ust to the Gospel according to Rush?

        December 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  14. loki

    Poke Franky can take a hike.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • SnafuBob

      With a name like Loki I can understand why you would make such a statement. One the 15 million delusional turds that listen to the porker eh? Nothing like a former drug addict that continues to bring down the GOP with ignorant attacks and statements among many other character flaws. The GOP is dying, thanks in part to tubs like this lush and the Tea Baggers.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  15. Thinkergal

    Oh, goodness, who cares what Rush Lamebrain says? As an American (lapsed) Catholic, I am finally ready to be proud of the Church.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • frank

      you are lapsed on more than catholcism

      December 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
      • Al

        You must be Rush's long lost cousin

        December 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  16. awasis

    Acts 4:32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

    Sounds like the early Christians were socialist not capitalists.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Bill Johnson

      Christianity has nothing to do with socialism (or capitalism for that matter). Its basic teachings is to help the poor, help those less fortunate than us. There are many ways to do this than just wealth redistribution. I don't think the Pope was challenging governments to change philosophy, but is merely calling on his followers to re-prioritize their lives from money and material things to spiritual wealth.

      Who cares what Rush says? He doesn't believe most of what he says. He says those things that get him coverage. Coverage drives his audience numbers and those drive his advertising rates. He makes $50 million/year doing this so he must be doing something right. If you don't like Rush, then don't listen to him but we should certainly NOT give a Radio Actor (which is all he is) the front page of a prime news destination.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  17. andrew

    I stopped listening to whimpbo Limpbo's cheap AM vomit years ago when he committed his first few felonies and lied like a rug. His credibility – especially along religious lines – is zero minus. I do not wish to go to the same heaven to which Rush fat-mouth-Limpbought goes.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  18. cindy

    Does anybody really care what Rush Limbaugh says? So disgusting. I'm sure Pope Francis will pray for this pitiful excuse for a man. It never ceases to amaze me how certain people can live so long without knowing how dumb they are.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  19. doobzz

    In other news, Rick Warren's new faith based diet book, The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life, goes on sale tomorrow nationwide.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  20. McRCN

    Why is CNN obsessed with what Rush has to say? He is just a talk show host.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      Rush gets ratings, that is why CNN and MSNBC always talk about him because they don't

      December 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
      • I AM

        What grade did you finish...I’m thinking 6th at the most.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
        • Dr.Tesla

          Mechanical Engineer, went to Clemson, graduated with 3.1 GPA


          December 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
        • Observer


          So why do you make so many thoughtless statements?

          December 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Diana

      I really am amazed that some big fat slob with a little bitty mouth and his "rhetoric" is still allowed to speak and that dummies still listen. He actually started out as political sarcasm and these incredibly stupid people listened. I am just amazed that he is still allowed to speak and gets money from poor people who don't know any better so he can stay fat. This is America after all! He does need to be slapped for speaking about Pope Francis this way, but Rush, God is listening to your foolishness.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:18 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.