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. Barbara

    Rush, you are an a**.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  2. Jeff

    I want to know what Mr. Catholic Rick Santorum thinks of his new pontiff. I bet you anything old sweater vest is too much of a coward to say anything on this.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  3. Mrs. Travis

    Geesh! Where is the moderator?

    December 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  4. Lar 5

    FOX and The GOP/TEA will now call for the immediate impeachment and conviction of the Pope. Their Lord Rush has spoken

    December 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      LoL! So true.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  5. George

    Is anyone surprised? The last gasping breath of support for the long failed policy of Reaganomics is lecturing the Pope on Marxism. Limbaugh doesn't know the meaning of the word, but what could one expect of a man who flunked out of SW Missouri State University in his freshman year. But he is going to teach us all how to receive his warped interpretation of a man who had dedicated his life to lifting up the poor. I'm an athiest, but the Pope is an admirable man

    December 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  6. Lar 5

    FOX and The GOP/TEA will now call for the immediate impeachment and conviction of the Pope. Their Lord Rush has spoken.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  7. It Figures

    Every time this conservative imbecile opens his big fat mouth, tur ds come out.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  8. tysnow

    Poor Rush, he is a devout puritanical Old Testament Christian (Puritans believed how prosperous you were determined your standing with God) While the new Pope is teaching from New Testament principles spoken by Christ in Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Unfortunately most American protestants ignore the Gospels in favor of the prosperity teaching in the old books (it aligns with capitalism) Jesus's teachings align more closely with Socialism than any other form of modern government structure.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  9. sally

    Nothing wrong with capitalism so long as the populace is protected from thieving and lying capitalists who put making money over every other value. I'm not at all surprised by Rush's comments...they are typical angry and vicious rhetoric which is his trademark.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  10. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  11. Ed Kidwell

    Limpbrain.............Showing the world just how stupid his Nazi-oid philosophy really is.Get lost RUSH. You are a fool.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Matt

      I believe you mean Limpdick.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  12. Dr.Tesla

    Be Gay For Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Dr. Tesla

      I already am.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  13. Mark

    This rancid bag of sweaty suet needs to STFU! We finally have a pope that gets to the root of much of our present woes of income inequality and corporate rapaciousness and this OxyContin cretin is compelled to blovate on the wisdom of the best pope we've seen in 50 years. I'm a recovering catholic mainly because of the church's archaic slant. This pope seems to have the true spirit of Christianity. Limbaugh, zip it!

    December 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • theorycraft

      so it seems mixing church and state is okay if it goes with your views?

      December 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
      • middle america man

        Only recently in history have the Popes not been politicians. They used to run the Church like a kingdom and commanded armies. They've been involved in influencing public policy for almost 2,000 years. Rush is just lucky this is the modern era and a Templar knight isn't on his way to shut him up permanently.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  14. chukch

    It will be hard to revolutionize a system of politics and religion that begin 2000 yrs. ago. This is only the tip of the iceberg melt...the pope is speaking of things to come,,,the likes of Mr. Limbaugh has his place in the ash-pile of history

    December 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  15. Matt

    The archdiocese of Mpls/St. Paul have been ordered to release the names, birth dates, addresses, and whether they are alive or dead today. A good day.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Matt

      Sorry, they've been ordered to release that info on the child molesters they hide.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  16. thevenerablecorvex

    How ironic that conservatives, the very same people who brought us three decades of the "Christian Right," are suddenly concerned with religious leaders trying to "influence politics."

    December 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm |

    Why did God waste a perfectly good set of vocal chords on this racists right wing oxycontin dealing self-promoting idiot? Well, I guess I shouldn't blame God – Rush probably grew like a wart on a frogs ass. I bet he thinks the Salvation Army Bell Ringers or anybody else that wants people to pitch in are communists.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Aaron Steinberg

      Can you imagine in the bedroom and all you can do is watch while popping pills.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  18. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  19. professor politics

    Please get off Rush's case. He is responsible for electing a lot of democrats in this country.

    December 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm |

      You are correct sir. LOL

      December 2, 2013 at 7:00 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.