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. DJ Reality

    Hey Rush with your drug use and adulterer ways you and your non-Christian philosophy you have no dang right to say anything about the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  2. Randy, San Francisco

    Rush LImbaugh must visit the Sistine Chapel and gaze at the great mural by Michaelangelo. He will receive divine warning that his soul is in danger of eternal fiery damnation.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  3. Polopoint

    Rush – put a sock in it.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • If you think

      He is trying very hard to stay relevant. And the dittoheads lap it up.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • It...

      I do not want a dirty Rush sock in me thank you very much. Besides, with that waistline I don't think he would be able to reach around back here to even try...

      December 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  4. nonyabidnes2

    Who is this Limbaugh? And what makes him think I need his advice?

    December 2, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  5. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Rush is a polarizing influence.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  6. Kevin

    Rush Limbaugh is bloated pill-popping charlatane. His continued existence in the public sphere is a glaring testament to the massive levels of ignorance that exist in our American society.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • niknak

      Sad part for me Kev is that I have to work with his minions.
      They absolutely LOVE him, and believe every word he says.
      There are no facts that stop them from believing.
      Kinda like your average believer, who will just ignore anything that invalidates their god-myth.
      That is why the fundies are always repub voters.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
  7. Screw rush, screw Marx

    Rush is Satan's spawn.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  8. navaJohn

    You'd better watch out who you're picking on this time, Rush. The Pope has friends in high places.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  9. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  10. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  11. aziolko

    I'm going to venture that the Pope knows how to preach Christianity better than Rush. And I'm going to bet that Rush will not find loads of biblical quotes to back up his side of the argument. Or a whole lot of biblical quotes endorsing capitalism.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  12. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  13. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    This is just proof that it's easy to fling poop when you happen to be sitting on bullshlt mountain...

    December 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • If you think

      Yeah, Rush is definitely King Chit on Turd Island.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  14. Grant

    *started (s)ending (last few lines)

    If you're looking for copy editors, please let me know.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  15. Lisa

    Mathew 19:23-25 Then Jesus said to his disciples,"I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, I tell you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." I guess Rush would think Jesus was a Marxist as well.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Truth_is_Truth

      Jesus was talking about those who were spiritually poor and not economically poor. Remember His kingdom is not of this world.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
      • Argyle

        The right wing nut GOP who hijacked the term "Christianity" for their brand of fundamentalism is no better than the jihadists that hijack Islam for their own political agendas. How refreshing, here comes a pope reminding us to care for the poor, and the rightwing nut "Christian" party of guns, denying healthcare, kicking down the poor, and environmental destruction is lashing out.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
        • A. de P.

          You had the best, most asserted comment today. Congratulations. And thank you on behalf of the billions (yes, billions) that think like you do.

          December 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
        • Ellen Shaver

           Argyle , I love the post !!!!!!!!!!!! See ya on the road folks .................

          December 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
      • dave

        No, actually Jesus' response was to a wealthy man who had lived a life pure, observing all of the commandments and covenants of God, Moses, and the laws put forth by all the prophets. This was his point, even by following the Word by serving and amassing wealth one would still fall short of the glory of God and for this man to be 'perfect' he should sell his things and minister and provide to the poor.

        December 2, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
        • niknak

          That's why if Jeebus did come back today he would be hounded out by good "family values" Xtians like Mr. Limbaugh and stoned to death.
          Xtians don't want some hippy trying to tell them to sell their goodies and help anyone less fortunate than themselves.
          Especially is that person is not lily white and Xtian like them.

          December 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  16. Steven Gold

    Hater gonna hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  17. David Houle

    Marxism is just a charged word for Brush Lintball to throw around

    December 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  18. DarkPoet

    Ummm I listened to the show and that WASN'T what he said. He said " If the pope was misquoted the person who misquoted him made it sound like the pope was a marxist!" Listen to the WHOLE show and not a clip people... you are being brainwashed. I don't like Rush but I happened to be listening and his entire quote IS NOT what is being reported here!

    December 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • If you think

      Ummm, so he didn't say "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.”?
      Oh, yeah that's right. He did.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  19. Jim McDonald

    I don;t think the new spiritual voice coming out of the Vatican will demolish global capitalism overnight but I am glad to hear it. If nothing else it begins to withdraw the spiritual sanction or approval of the Roman Catholic Church from an amoral , often inhumane world economic system. Primarily, I think, Pope Francis is trying to heal his own Church by taking action to disengage it from its long unholy alliance with capitalism. I wish him well

    December 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  20. Bob Bobson

    The single achievement of the modern conservative movement in this country has been to convince millions of weak minded individuals that selfishness, greed, and hatred for those who are less fortunate are good, Christian values.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:41 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.