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. dorothy

    I had my reservations about Pope Francis. Now that I hear that Fox News and Limbaugh are attacking him, all my reservations about him have vanished. That in and of itself is a good barometer of what is good and holy. He's obviously on the right track!

    December 2, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  2. Stalk Forrest

    Tea party at war with the Catholic church,
    MAN I LOVE THIS !!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Jim

      I think the Catholic Church will easily win that war.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  3. james

    The Pope is espousing the essence of Liberation Theology, which started in Latin American, where he is from. If one must pigeonhole his principles it cannot but be put in the category of Marxism or socialism. We might have one Marxist/socialist in DC and now another one in Rome.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • middle america man

      Wow, you have no idea what Marxism is, do you ? I'd stay out of the deep end of the pool if I were you, so to speak.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • dennisf255

      "Cannot but"?

      First off, to call Obama a socialist is laughable. Secondly, you must be familiar with the teachings of Jesus, who vividly expressed disdain for the selfish behavior of the wealthy.

      Finally, you "cannot but" be serious with that tortured syntax.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Matt

      You have no idea what real socialism is.

      Disregard this if you meant Bernie Sanders who claims to be a socialist..

      December 2, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  4. rush limno

    low information ditto head welfare people listen to the KING RUSH LIMBO. RUSH LIMBO blast the COMMIE LEFTS and the TRAILER PARK RIGHTWINGER love him because he make 100 million dollars making s88HH **## T upppp.
    and goes to BED and saying another two million dollars made for the TRAILER PARK POOR listning to RUSH. THE KING and sugardaddy of the REPUBLICANS.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • dggffdsasaedgghh

      IRRADIATING testicles from Venezuelan orbit LIMBAUGH knows and will not tell. OBAMA OBAMA OBAMA LAMINADEALUMINIO

      December 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  5. sqeptiq

    Why is Rush fomenting a WAR ON CHRISTIANITY?"

    December 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Mrs. Travis

      To keep our minds off the real issues... as usual. But the bigger question is why is the pope acting like a politician?

      December 2, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Religion, social engineering, politics are all pretty much the same thing.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  6. Allison Watkins

    Seriously? As if his fat, bloviating, pill-popping, women-bashing. Illegal-immigrant-exploiting self has some moral high ground to stand on??! His ego has surpassed the size of his ignorance. Sigh.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  7. Pilot

    It is so sad that there are certain extremists, who if they disagree with your belief they call you a Socialist, Marxist or Communist. We might as well be arguing with a brick wall, it would be easier to convince than Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  8. Stephen Busterna

    He's back on the Oxycontin-or is it time for a sixth wife? Does anyone really listen to this moron?

    December 2, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Other morons!

      December 2, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  9. Jim

    I guess Limblow believes that greed is good and Pope Francis doesn't.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  10. Uh-Clem

    Rush's pontification is the embodiment of what is wrong with capitalism run amok. A hundred years ago there was a stronger religious affect dominating the American business world that kept avarice in check somewhat. Now, that divine guidance is trampled by the lost sheep of the Christian right that has trampled on everything Christianity stands for. Let's call it for what it is, economic slavery of the majority.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  11. DunWithThis

    Yawn. Who cares what the Oxy- and Viagra-popping Neanderthal has to say about anything?

    December 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Rush is not from any part of genus H*o*mo.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  12. greasemonkey

    If Rush thinks the Pope is anti capitalist......wait until he reads the bible......

    December 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  13. Beantown Aloha

    Of course the free-market needs monitoring. Of course those less fortunate require our support and mercy. If left to Rush – the law of the land would begin with "Let them eat cake". Being altruistic and caring is not Marxist in nature, but understanding our fates are interwoven.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  14. Bob

    The cultural and economic context in which the Bible was written was very different from that in which we have in America. Everything was about class, public education was not a right, and it was impossible to climb the social and economic ladder through hard work. That is not the case here in America today. People, in fact, do have the power to rise above their origins with hard work, education, and determination. They don't require handouts to survive.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Joe Marsh


      And how well did that work for slaves the first 300 years, child labor exploited and coal miners and factory workers suffering horrific working conditions and safety issues in the early 1900's, women still fighting the glass ceiling that exists, etc.? Oh, it's all better or getting better now. Yea, everybody gets a fair deal now-–in your dreams!

      December 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
      • Bob

        When I was in my 20s, I drove a rusted out Cadillac that broke down almost daily, had a massive amount of debt, and was forced to work retail because I couldn't find any other jobs. I now make over 300,000 a year. Because I worked hard for decades.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  15. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  16. sammy750

    Rush, what an AH but being in FL, we all understand,

    December 2, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  17. Absinthe

    You know someone is saying something good when that dumb a$$ Limbaugh doesn't like it.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  18. John

    Limbaugh is a failed disc jockey who couldn't supply enough groupies to the early 70s rock groups to make it big.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  19. jackfkelly51

    I don't care what you Catholics say, I'm going with the 4 times divorced, draft dodging, illegal drug abuser and overt racist on this one! I mean, how can it be possible that the Pope wants the world to help the poor. Gawd put them in their mess and he wants them to stay out of the way of the REAL 'Mericans" like good old Rushbo.

    That said, I firmly believe Rush is on the fast track to hell, I'm sending a couple of cords of firewood to Satan to prepare things for the serial misogynist.

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

      Nicely put Sir.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      And may the firewood be inserted latterally before lighting...

      December 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  20. fred

    what kind of media company gives a junkie like limbaugh a platform to spew his trash?

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

      That would be CNN.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
      • middle america man

        I don't think you understand the question. CNN reports news, you are thinking about Clear Channel and other radio networks. You know, the ones who had to report publicly to their shareholders how much money Rush lost them during the Sandra Fluke debacle. What a total DB this guy is.

        December 2, 2013 at 8:13 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.