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. Dr.Tesla

    Rush = patriot No liberal can deny Rush loves this country

    December 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Matt

      Patriots do everything they can to avoid military service now do they? News to me.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Firsto lasto

      Any idiot can love anything. So what?

      December 2, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Yaha Tustunugee

      I guess Rush must love his country. the US is the only place where an opinionated ill-informed bag of wind like Limbaugh could find enough like minded people to garner the millions he has at the expense of truth and good taste.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  2. Dr.Tesla

    I enjoyed Rush's book about Thanksgiving. A real good message to kids.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  3. PS

    Gee, I didn't know Limbaugh was a comedian. Seriously, his comments made me bust up out loud – hard. As if the Pope would give a hoot about what someone like Rush Limbaugh thinks.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  4. Dr.Tesla

    Rush dominates talk radio for 25 years because people know he is honest and intelligent.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Observer

      Yep. Just like Glenn Beck.


      December 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
      • Dr.Tesla

        Becks is alright, he does a decent show, just not as smart and funny as El Rushbo

        December 2, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • greyhackles


      December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • poli

      If the pope is a Marxist for his ideology, what would Jesus be?

      December 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  5. mindstorms1

    According to the Bible it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. So I guess the Bible is also preaching Marxist ideology.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • ndoneill

      Yup: Act:2 32-35

      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.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  6. Victor

    Those words in red read like red words to people who spend more time beating their Bible than reading it.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  7. Guest

    Rush has said what I've been thinking. But we really should be more worried about the Marxist in the White House.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • cmo

      well...you'll get a good christian back in and we'll go to war just like your cowardly heroes want...maybe you can enlist and serve on the front lines then

      December 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  8. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  9. cmo

    I don't think any so called christian with hate in their heart and disdain for anyone needing help could carry JC's jockstrap. but you all appear to be able to quote what you know what was said thousands of years ago after a different group of religious men with their own agenda's picked and chose what they wanted you to read.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  10. I prayed to god to make me an atheist and not only did he...

    I prayed to god to make me an atheist and not only did he grant my prayer, he also made me into a card-carrying liberal.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • doobzz

      I just read his book.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
  11. whaaa

    "somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him". Wouldn't that be God?

    December 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • t2vodka

      ok, so if everyone was poor, who would by the land?

      December 2, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  12. ndoneill

    I wonder what Rush thinks this Bible passage sounds like then. Acts:2 32-37

    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.

    36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Rush would say they had a good racket going, just like he does...


      So is Republican GREED.

      Since one is usually the other, we could rid the world of both with just one stone. It'll take awhile to smash all their heads, but just one stone would get the job done.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
      • ndoneill

        Violent atheists imposing their views by force aren't going to make anything better.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
        • Matt

          True, but if Christians want to claim they are persecuted I think we ought to oblige them.

          December 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
      • Justaguy

        There is plenty of "greed" on the Left – like the Wall St and Hollywood types to start naming a few

        December 2, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
      • t2vodka

        Gross, no matter how annoying religouse people are i would never wish harm to them...well accept for the violent religouse fanatics.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • David

      ndoneill – the book of Acts is historical account of what happend, NOT doctrine to be followed. the church there shortly thereafter went bankrupt and had to be supported by other churches. if anything this is an example not to be followed by the church.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
      • ndoneill

        My point is just that you can pick and choose verses from the Bible to support many different world views. You could just as easily quote the parable about the talents in support of capitalism. So who is Limbaugh to presume he knows better or has the correct interpretation?

        December 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Truth_is_Truth

      It is easy to misquote the Bible. The early church got a bit idealistic and failed with people taking advantage of it as you will read later in that same book you quoted. Now let's see what it really says:

      2 Thessalonians 3:10-12:-
      For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

      Proverbs 6:6-8:-
      Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
      • ndoneill

        I agree, and this is my partly my point. People can pick and choose verses to support whatever they want, so who is Rush to presume he knows knows better?

        You could also quote the parable about the servants whose master left them each with 5 talents. The master rewarded those who grew their allotment and cast out the one who made nothing of it. One could just as easily choose that verse to support capitalism.

        December 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  13. brian

    Rush doesn't know anything about anything.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  14. cary shackelford


    December 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  15. Well, after all, Marx DID say, "Whatsoever you do to the least of these - so you do unto me..."

    Or was that Jeebus?

    I always forget.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  16. MoodyFoodie

    Let's face it. Rush and his like would be among the loudest shouting "Crucify him!" about Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  17. Ed

    Who cares what RL says or thinks, he does it to get you to listen anyway.
    But how about all the corruption in the church? And the fact that places around the world like Haiti, that are 80% Catholic and 99% VooDoo and the church seems to have no issues with that as long as they pay the church?

    December 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Justaguy

      I am not defending anyone (Pope or RL) but just look below – there are 122 pages of people who mostly say they don't care what RL says but they do because they bothered to post something!

      December 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Mark Tercsak

      Ed, I think the pope is a good guy, I also have a friend who grew up with him, he now lives here in the states and my friends dad still lives in Argentina, his father has even called the pop a Marxist yet he still likes him as a person.
      I think we can all agree there are good people and bad people Ed in every class. The fact is the majority of people however, are good people. People are not perfect either Ed, people have made mistakes and most learn from them.
      The fact is capitalism while not perfect Ed, has been the greatest gift to man kind, the fact is Ed if it were not for the wealthy in this country and other countries, most of us wood still be living in caves or wooden structures , with ought houses, disease would be rampant as would hunger through out the world, Ed. We would most likely still be sailing on wooden ships, Steamships, Trains and cars and the electric light bulb would never have been done, if were not for men like Ford, Morgan, Carnegie etc. There would be a few brick streets the rest would be dirt and no sewer lines to rid the cities of waste and no major hospitals and drugs and cures, if were not for people with capitol who took a risk, many of them destroyed themselves so that we might have a better life, if it was not for these people most of us would not have had jobs were we made a decent living, for your information I am 50 years old and disabled and when I worked I was a Security guard most of my life. thus Iam not wealthy in terms of money but I am interms as a person. Rush is right on this point, capitalism is good and has been good for most of us.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
  18. William Davenport

    Pope Francis makes me proud to be a Catholic. Rush, on the other hand, apparently doesn't know much about what being a Christian is all about. I wonder how Paul Ryan will react to the Holy Father's message? Could it be that Ryan is a "cafeteria Catholic?"

    December 2, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Truth_is_Truth

      Many third world priests are socialists and sometimes display Marxist ideology. Not surprising that the current pope who comes from a poor nation has a Marxist bent.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
      • Ross

        Dummy up – since when is Argentina a poor nation ? Bye the way , the military junta which ruled the country for over 20 years killed off most of the Marxists , guess they forgot to nail him !!

        December 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Justaguy

      Mr Bill

      1) – if the Pope is serious, sell more of the art/sculptures the church amassed (confiscated) and give to the poor – the villa he sold isn't even am appetizer.
      2) the Holy Father is God – not any earthling
      3)as a former Catholic – I started reading the Bible more than the missals they gave me
      4)Let God judge RL & Paul Ryan


      December 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  19. Dr.Tesla

    God wants you to be a gay cowboy

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

      Then your work is done, and He is pleased.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Dr.Tesla

      just like what i be

      December 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • I'm allergic to horses, but I've got the gay down pat.

      Pat, or Bruce, or John – whatever your name is – believe me – I've got the gay down.

      WAY down, if ya know what I mean...

      December 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  20. Oscar

    Mr. Limbaugh should just do us all a big favor: Pull his lower lip over his head and swallow!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 6:26 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.