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. Doesn't Add Up

    Funny how liberals come out of the woodwork to educate everyone on the in's and out's of Christianity like they are the moral authorities. They have a religion and it is smug.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • If you think

      If you think that Rush is the moral authority of Christian values, you are seriously deranged.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • ProudACLU

      Our religion is to keep your religion out of our government and to purge it wherever it remains

      December 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • middle america man

      Funny how I don't care what conservatives think about anything. I think going forward, you'll be seeing that reflected at the polls more and more, now that you come have alienated women, young people, Latinos, union people, gays, Asians, intellectuals of any kind, the middle class, blacks etc. Did I leave anyone out? Sucks to be you...

      December 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  2. nwabundo

    What Pope Francis said about capitalism mirrors exactly what Saint Pope John Paul II said on the same matter! Those who condemn the Catholic Social Teaching on the poor, the sick, sinners and all those marginalized by society, have not read their Scriptures. I invite them to read the Gospels and the Acts and they will find Our Lord Jesus Christ having compassion and charity for the poor, sinners and all outcasts of society, and the early Christians following in His footsteps. If the actions of Christ and his early followers are what people like Rush call communism, socialism and Marxism, then Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ and the early Christians were the greatest Marxists! The problem with us Christians is that in our crass materialism and hedonism we have allowed charity ( the only key to entering Heaven) to grow cold and assuage our failings in this virtue with grumpiness and outright meanness. A good friend of mine who is of the same mind as Rush argues that the church jettisoned the human solidarity of the first Christians because it did not work. And I always counter by telling her the allegory of the two knives that belonged to one man in a village: the sharp knife has no handle and the one with a handle is blunt: two equally useless knives! Like these knives the crisis of conscience in Christianity today is that those of us who talk a lot about God have no compassion, while those who seem to have "put Him in parenthesis" ironically show more compassion and mercy. This is the miserable picture that Pope Francis has come to show us in bold relief. God bless him!

    December 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  3. Truth_is_Truth

    Marxist Liberation theology is popular among Catholics in poor nations and especially in Latin America where the Pope comes from. No wonder he sides with such Marxist views.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  4. Lisa Bollman

    Jesus would endorse this Pope Francis's views.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • jb_n_atl

      more like this pope is endorsing Jesus' views

      December 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Truth_is_Truth

      There is no pope in the Bible. The role of pope is unscriptural to begin with.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
      • middle america man

        Said the man from the Johnny Come Lately Protestant church. Get back to us when you've been around for 2,000 years.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  5. lord toronaga

    Rush isn't the issue. So what... It's listening to that raving GAY child molesting freak that bothers me. Give up the Vatican's money and spread it around.... don't ask me for my money. I don't give a hoot about income disparity.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  6. Gerald Delgado

    What Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin fail to understand is that social justice and equality have always been a part of Catholic social teaching. Pope Francis' words are nothing new.
    As a devout Catholic, I am proud of Pope Francis' example and remind Mr. Limbaugh and Mrs. Palin that no one is asking them to convert to Catholicism. On the other hand, I expect them to honor my faith decisions in return.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Truth_is_Truth

      I was born and raised a Catholic and I disagree with the Pope's view. He and many catholic priests in the third world support marxist leaning liberation theology.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  7. amisc1970

    Limbaugh believes that very clear Pope Francis doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism. Yet there is no basis that people have for believing that Limbaugh knows anything that he is talking about. If it is simply that he makes a lot of money, so do actors and athletes but that doesn't make them experts in capitalism so simply making lots of money doesn't mean you are an expert.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  8. independant jim

    Rush works for the top 1% his followers are mostly easily led poor illiterate red necks they will hate anything Rush tells them to

    December 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  9. oneslydragon

    And Limbaugh preaches hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  10. Dyslexic doG

    Limbaugh, a legend in his own mind.

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

      What Mind?

      December 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  11. Buck

    Limbaugh is preaching pure idiocy.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  12. dr. Patrick Foley

    As an historian with may publications and awards I have suspected that Limbaugh is biased in a manner that reflects his lack of depth and integrity in his voicing of his views. These remarks by him simply reflect that.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  13. Guest

    Don't worry about a Marxist Pope. It's the Marxist in the White House that we need to be concerned with.

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

      You live in far-right la la land if you think Obama is a Marxist. He's a bourgeois liberal. By the way, how's the weather there in dumfukistan?

      December 2, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • dennisf255

      Calling Obama a Marxist, as so many ditto heads do, only reveals the accuser as an imbecile. If Obama is a Marxist so was Bush, and Reagan, and Nixon, and Eisenhower and so on. It is a ridiculous accusation. Their is much to criticize Obama about. Try reality and gain some credibility.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Bob Bobson

      There's a red under your bed and a little green man in your head.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  14. DoubleStufft

    He should stop preaching the wonders of obesity....

    December 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  15. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  16. SWN

    …Limbaugh and a lot of catholics are assuming that Marxism is bad.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Yippe Kayee

      Exactly! Just because something has never worked in the past and brings poverty to it's people doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  17. Matt

    I believe in Roddenberryism: The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few, and that every man, woman, and child should work to better humanity for the benefit of humanity, not personal gain. Hubbard managed to make a religion out of his fiction so why couldn't Gene?

    December 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      I'd join The United Federation of Planets. Sign me up.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  18. SLE

    In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

    Limbaugh fails to understand that the way capitalism is exercised in the modern world is often unchristian. This is unsurprising, since the way any economic or governmental system is exercised in the modern world is often unchristian. For someone to call that out is not Marxist, it's realist. This American idea that being rich is a sign of God's favor is a remnant from Calvinism. You can't realistically expect the Pope to preach Calvinism, unless you are either uninformed or an nationalist egomaniac. (Or, to be fair, both.)

    Limbaugh has a point about the material spectacle of the Vatican, but given reports about how Pope Francis has chosen to live, it appears that he is attempting to practice what he preaches. Limbaugh, on the other hand, is a pathetic blow-hard who just wants attention.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • John Galt

      Forced charity is no virtue.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
      • middle america man

        John Galt is a super embarrassing fictional character and Ayn Rand was a hag.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  19. Jimh77

    I can't believe any one still listens to this moron. This guy fell off the edge so many years ago. And to call the Pope a Marxist.
    Wow, what balls he must have ey'
    So, by the numbers, Limbaugh has est 15 million listeners, can not be confirmed in any way.
    Pope, 2 million show up at the vatican, over 10 mill on Twitter, and billions world wide.

    Limber, go fall off another edge and go away.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  20. Carlos

    This guy Rush Limbaugh wants attention.... he does not know what Marxism is.. he is a pure idiot wanting attention....

    December 2, 2013 at 7:25 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.