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. DaveCA

    And Rush preaches hate, fear, and ignorance; the 3 horsemen of the GOP.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  2. PaEMTP2

    Someone once said, "Give a starving person food to eat and your a saint, ask why they are starving and your a communist.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • JM

      Apparently rightwingers don't believe the Bible, which says that everything we have comes from God.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  3. pdxdave

    The Pope, in focusing on Capitalism to excoriate while extoling (though not naming) Marxism, revealed his agenda: Promote Marxism.

    It is not a secret that a Marxist core belief is more important to the Jesuits than is belief in God.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Gorsh

      It is what Christ and his followers taught. Sorry

      December 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • JM

      The pope is a Marxist, like Jesus.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • William Jackson

      Sorry you lose: speaking the word of god is not extolling marxism, you and your buddy Rush need to get a grip.

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

    Can you smell the desperation of dropping ratings in this idiocy?

    I can.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  5. afroblue

    I have a new respect for the Catholic Church

    December 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  6. Brian Richards

    That is too bad for Rush Limbaugh. He is a God despiser. Do not take my word, take Jesus words on the subject

    Matthew 6:24

    "No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.:

    Too bad, it looks like Rush Limbaugh and his fans will burn in hell. Just think Tea Party, you will save on heating bills after you die!

    December 2, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • lord toronaga

      God has no power. I prefer the cash. You can kiss his ring all you want or whatever else you fancy...

      December 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
      • Brian Richards

        Just my point. People who love Rush Limbaugh hate god! They are money lovers and God despisers. That is what we know about the religious right: they despise God, love money and worship Satan!

        Have a good time burning in Hell, Mr. You-Think-You-Are-Lord. That is too bad for you.

        December 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
        • lord toronaga

          I don't care about Rush. Meh. I care about me. Like Jesus said..."render to Cesar which is Cesar's". I'll stick with the money.

          December 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  7. Ross P. Alander

    Rush is a fool and needs our prayers. "Teach the Gospel daily and if necessary use words", St Francis of Assisi

    December 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  8. dan

    Pope benedict preaches TRUE Christianity, the spirit of Giving to those in need and not Hoarding it all for yourself, It isn't Marxism its simple love of fellow man, which in capitalism has no place because Capitalism is Every man for himself and F.U. if youre struggling to get by that's Your problem not mine. I have often said that true Christian values can NOT coexist with Capitalism they are At odds from the get go. and Rush Noballs is a piece of Crap that only cares about where His next Million is coming from so of course He would not agree with the pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  9. tatanka

    Rush taking on the Pope is a liberal wet dream.

    Thanks again, Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Living Rationally

      You or Rush would not know Marxism if it hit you in the face.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • dan

      anyone that BELIEVES Rush Limbaugh, BELIEVES the crap that comes out of his mouth is a FOOL, He is an egotistical wind bag with no real opinions of any substance, His job is strictly to start trouble at any cost, It is what keeps him supplied in oxicontin and cigars. He has ZERO moral fiber and is strictly a self promoter.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
      • cross eyed mary

        Like u

        December 2, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • JM

      He sounds like the devil.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  10. Gorsh

    It is so ironic how many people profess Christianity, yet have no clue what Jesus and his immediate followers lived and taught.

    Reading the teachings of Jesus and studying early Church history shows-Christians were Socialists in the best possible way.

    "Capitalism" is fundamentally based on coveting your neighbor's goods, wife, house, car

    December 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  11. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  12. tj cardy

    Rush must be back on the drugs. I will be glad when all of the old farts are gone from politics and talk radio. They are the reason the country is in such a desperate state.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  13. happyfrenchman

    Well, now I guess Limbaugh knows more about god than the pope does... just like he says he knows everything else... who could listen to this guy?

    December 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  14. JM

    This man is possessed.

    The pope is amazing. Limbaugh is insane.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  15. John

    Abraham, Solomon and David had a lot of riches but God never told them to give this up. It is not wrong to be rich. It is wrong to steal from the poor. I differ with the quote from St John quoted by the pope. The Vatican's wealth is incalculable. The US under the influence of recent popes has been sharing it's wealth with China and most other countries in the world while Americans by and large continue to grow poorer. But we have forgotten our Protestant roots and work ethic secondary to the social programs carried to extremes by Catholics and deluded Protestants. Americans sleeps on in front of your entertainment industry; you will wake up when it's to late.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • JM

      Jesus (the Son of God) didn't have a pillow.

      The Rich Man and Lazarus

      19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

      22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

      25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

      December 2, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Matt Damon

      Have you ever read the bible?

      Matthew 19:21-24

      21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

      22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

      23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

      December 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
      • larry

        The Jesus of the New Testament was a peace -oving, anti-materialistic hippie dude. I find it astounding that American teabaggers portray him as a fat-cat capitalist.

        December 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  16. michael waring

    Brianiac Stuart Varney...Capitalism is not a political system. FOX sure hires the best and the brightest!

    December 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  17. xiomereba

    Rush is a perfect example of the type of unbridled Capitalism the Pope is cautioning people about. It is the type that makes people like him do or say anything, without regard for others, as long as they are benefitting financially. Money is clearly his only reason for trying to constantly create controversy where there is none. All the Pope did was espouse the tenets of Christianity which says we should care about each other. His listeners must be quite uneducated if they do not have a problem with him equating Christianity to Marxism.

    December 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  18. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  19. nestor

    smell like repent jew

    December 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  20. D, Sullivan

    Ah me....Poor Mr. Limbaugh....he is even more twisted than I ever thought...he need help!

    December 2, 2013 at 7:52 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.