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. remy

    Rush Limbaugh's name is synonomous with hate, stupidity and ignornace. Why do we as a society give him audience instead of condeming him for the fool that he is. He and those like him do not bring us together as a nation, they divide us. He is the evil, he is the enemy.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • BeBoppin

      You should ask the millions of people who listen to his crap. Now that he has offended Catholics, maybe his ratings will drop.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  2. Tony

    Who is Rush Limbaugh?

    December 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  3. Smarter than ewe

    Is anything he says relevant?

    December 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • Joe

      He's trying to stay that way....

      December 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
  4. gun dude

    I'm Catholic and it seems as if obummer has finely gotten a pope he can like.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • Joe

      Seems like you're an idiot.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • remy

      Omg you are scary stupid

      December 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • sburns54

      Not just an idiot, not just scary stupid, but a scary stupid idiot. For starters.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • exodus84

      Well then you're not Catholic. Or if you are you don't really know anything about it. Or youre a complete moron. Or youre a troll.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  5. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  6. Desert Tortoise

    He only has it half right. It is hard to take seriously anything that comes from the Mexican Catholic Church. They seem intent on destroying the US with unregulated immigration, pandering to those who do not belong here in the first place at the expense of the people who built this great nation. The leaders of the Mexican Catholic Church are traitors to this country and as far as I am concerned until the so-called church, which is really a foreign enemy, stops providing sanctuary to lawbreakers, be they pedophile priests or illegal immigrants, you cannot call yourself Catholic and be considered a loyal American. The two are mutually exclusive. Live is about choices. Catholics need to make some and soon or they will be considered to be traitors to their nation.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Joe

      You know the Holy See us located in Rome, right?

      December 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Dennis

      You do realize that the Pope is not Mexican, South American, but not Mexican. And just in case you are geographically challenged, Mexico is in Central America.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • sburns54

      I think your hat is a little too tight.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • tntbrian

      Christianity was a major reason why Rome fell.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
      • Dennis

        I think that the morality or lack thereof was the reason for the fall of Rome. It would have fallen either way but it is like a storm that blows through and the weak trees that are diseased are the first ones to fall. Christianity was the storm that revealed the weakness that was the morality of Rome. Some people believe that Pope John Paul II and Christianity had a huge hand in the fall of Communism.

        December 3, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  7. Uncletomscabin

    At last, a pope even I can respect and admire.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  8. Jesse Christ

    Marxism? Funny, I thought Pope Francis was getting back to pure Jesus Christianity, without the politics of shame, blame, hatred & ignorance. Silly me. One would like to remind Rush Blustermouth that the 2 things Jesus condemned the most were the Rich and Religious Hypocrites. Fit into one of those, Rush, you who sits and preaches Hatred everyday?
    Are we now looking forward to the Religious Reich starting an anti-Pope campaign on Fox as well? THAT should make them even more popular.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  9. tntbrian

    Was Jesus Christ a Marxist?

    December 2, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Wishing I were Jamie Lynn Grumet's little man

      Hippie socialist in flats from what the conservatives say.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • Paul

      If our Lord was to be here today, He would have been crucified once again by Limbaugh and his tea party followers, The Holy Father lives by example while others just limit themselves to spread both fear and hatred...

      December 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  10. Steven Daniel

    Will this guy simply not go away? His un-ending dribble of wasted words serve no one other then the far, far right. do wish the media would cut his legs off!

    December 2, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  11. Wishing I were Jamie Lynn Grumet's little man

    Hey RUSH head! you may have 1.5 million listeners but the Pope has 15 BILLION ...that's BILLIONS with a "B" bubba!

    December 2, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • JJ

      And thousands of pedophiles at his command.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • pkfops01

      15 Billion?


      December 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • K

      I appreciate your sentiment ... but the population of the earth is only ~7B. The Catholic slice of that is ~ 1.5B (give or take). You've got to move the decimal point over one to the left.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  12. John Johns

    Why would it be such a bad thing if the Pope was a Marxist? If it is just because Limbaugh and the rest of the wealthy right in the U.S. would not like this, then this is not a very good reason since Christianity was started to disturb those who had become too complicit with the earthly powers that be (at the time) and had forgotten about the heavenly ones.
    It was Jesus himself who said "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."
    It was Jesus himself who kicked the moneylenders out of the Temple.
    It was Jesus himself who said "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth... You cannot serve both God and money"

    December 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  13. exodus84

    If this moron thinks the Pope is a Marxist he'd REALLY hate that Jesus guy! What with his washing of feet, healing the sick, whipping people trying to turn a profit in God's house etc etc. Apparently Rush and the rest of the cons only want to invoke religion and Christianity when they can bend it to meet their talking points. What a huge shock! You can be Republican or you can be Christian but you can't be both. God knows.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  14. LCSWquilter

    Well, one this is for sure. Conservatives do not espouse the Gospel teachings when it comes to economics. Jesus and the Pope got it right.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  15. Bribarian

    I've seen the media and CNN like this new pope, so we can pretty much assume he is evil.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Joe

      Thanks for weighing in, dittohead.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • LB

      So is your junkie boss, Limbaugh. How much are you being paid per comment, troll?

      December 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • K

      Yes ... so lets not decide for yourself. Instead, just reflexively respond because of what others are doing. Good thinking.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  16. FortWorthTX

    Amazing that Limbaugh would criticize the Pope for tying religious beliefs and politics. What has the religious-right been doing for decades? Did Limbaugh criticize them? It is wonderful to see a major world leader like the Pope actually make statements to try and help the poor of the world. Too many leaders, religious or political, are just in it for themselves.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  17. ergo sum

    It may come as news to Limbaugh but the early Christians were practicing communists from the very beginning. Modern Capitalism was only invented 1700 years later.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • JM

      They sold all of their possessions and gave to the poor/used for the collective.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Susan S

      Too lazy to look into right now ... but didn't capitalism form around the time Luther broke away from the Catholic church, with the Protestant Reformation?

      December 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  18. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  19. bigdolla

    Rush off or on his meds again it is always so hard to tell.
    Or is it no one is paying attention to him again?
    Why is this even news? Rush hates everything that helps the poor or those in need.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  20. Wishing I were Jamie Lynn Grumet's little man

    1 million people should kick some sense into this ex pill popping soft headed fool.

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

      He's a fool who will have to deal w/God someday.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:10 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.