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. rolnthndr

    So the Pope preaches Marxism, Rush preaches nothing but trash and hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Erik

      Funny that when the pope said it – no headlines; when Rush Limbaugh comments – headlines.

      Scary world!

      December 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  2. Im a nurse

    Not getting enough attention lately Limbaugh that you lower yourself to this tirade? You are a sorry person.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Joe

      Nothing is too low for this human excrement to sink to.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  3. John Hamann

    Limbaugh's message is the extreme to keep himself in the limelight. Paying attention to the poor is about reducing the divide between the rich and the poor and maintaining the integrity of the human being or order to formulate a sense of community as we approach solutions to economic and social problems.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  4. McBob79

    The sad part is that most of you don't know what Marxism is and immediately think that Limbaugh is calling the Pope something derogatory. The fact is that what the Pope is preaching is somewhat Marxist and not very surprising. Capitalism creates a society with a lot of extreme haves and have nots so there are other economic systems that level the playing field. The Pope is not incorrect in that regard. What the Pope doesn't get is that the wealth created by the free enterprise far exceeds the output of any other economic system and therefore more people thrive AND the free enterprise gives more people a chance to do well. This has been studied over and over with similar conclusions... it's one reason why the Chinese and Russians had to move in that direction.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • One nation under one very political God

      Except that in practice the playing field is not leveled at all. The Church is not going to give up their wealth and power.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • lord toronaga

      And strangely enough, all these people cheering on the pedophile pope , never gave away any money or went out of their way to help anyone. Yeah .. Go Team.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
      • Naples, Florida

        La la la liar.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
        • lord toronaga

          Tis true. Lots-a big talk. Everyone is so righteous/stupid.
          Who cares about Limbaugh. He's only a messenger.
          The pope is a flake...and his followers are BS.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Marx himself was never a Marxist:

      "I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member"

      December 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Joe

      The fact is that Limbaugh absolutely meant it in a derogatory way, and the fact is that he continuously spews hatred. That's the fact.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • JJ

      You are correct about Marxism and Communism. It removes the human incentive to work. Although Capitalism is far from perfect, it's the best direction we have. If we don't have the risk to reward system then the progress of the human race will come to a halt.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
      • One nation under one very political God

        Maybe we should try it some day. A free market capitalist system. I would like to see if it works.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • Danko Ramone

      You forget that regardless of what the Pope "gets," his point is the disparity created is further enhanced by greed of those fortunate enough to benefit, who are clearly not sharing with those in suffering, and who are therefore perpetuating the suffering.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  5. Insight

    Rush Limbaugh has some precondition like drug use and get registered with Obamacare.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  6. One nation under one very political God


    Half of Rush's audience disappears.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  7. lord toronaga

    The best quote I ever hear..."I already have the guilty conscience... might as well keep the money too". – Wyatt Earp

    December 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  8. huh?

    Wow, a bloated food and drug addict throwing around insults to those that he disagrees with. Seems like a trend is growing here (i.e., Toronto mayor, etc.). Usually these types lay off the all mighty church, but I guess Evangelicals have become so indoctrinated in their fundamental ways that no rules now apply to them, the righteous.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  9. annlogsdon

    Limbaugh is pure idiocy.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  10. I wonder?

    I wonder what Rush would really be if he did not have his hideous radio show. I doubt he would call the Pope a Marxist. His entire show is the same as Howard Stern's. All based on "shock value."

    December 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  11. haroldgray1

    Don't perpetuate this entertainer/bigot's influence by quoting him. Please just give us the news.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  12. 1rdd

    I am for any 'isms' if they would keep the fat, hypocritical & creepy Limbaugh off the airwaves.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  13. Paul

    Mr. Limbaugh..If you are a true Conservative you must hear the teachings of our Lord . You cannot have authentic conservative principles unless you care for the well being of your neighbors . Otherwise your faith is no more than an empty bell..

    December 2, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One


      December 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  14. al

    limbaugh is so fat he cant reach around to take a look at his own rear end. if he accuses the pope of speaking marxism. he should listen to himself and realize he (rush limbaugh)speaks nazism

    December 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • tony

      What does the Pope have to do with politics, maybe him and OBAMA are related same views.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  15. Whome

    I think Rush Limbaugh is just like Jesus Christ.
    We should nail him to a cross

    December 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • albert ngene

      Crucifixion was an ignoble way to put a man to death. Jesus – true God and true man – went through it as only way to redeem humanity. The way you tossed it on Limbaugh was most unworthy.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
  16. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Collective action for the social good: does someone have a list of Limbaugh's sponsors that's resonably up to date? Keep in mind that it's as important to applaud the sponsor's that have left him as it is to persuade current sponsors to leave.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • A Candid Look

      A telling comment Tom... Do you think you could get workers of the world unite in there too?

      December 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  17. Erich Alba

    This trick the conservative talk show host/Fox news commentators use is an old trick. They exaggerate or say outrageous things about people/groups they don't like knowing that it's not true. In doing this they draw their believing listeners way out in left field which creates tmental space for lesser outrageous commentary to be even more easily believed. It's like the used car salesman. They will always start with a sky-high price for a vehicle. An unwhitty customer or one that has low critical thinking skills get easily taken when the sales person drops the price down a few notches...same psychology.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  18. ermentrude

    I think I just read about a radio talk show host who is beginning to understand that a religious leader (the Pope) is outside his personal political ideology. Religious leaders should be outside of partisan politics. Claiming the Pope has a partisan agenda or ideology makes Rush look like a man carrying labels around, and plastering them on anyone and everyone.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  19. Dennis

    I believe it was Archbishop Dom Helder Camara who said, "When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist."

    And yes I can quote this and I'm not Catholic, nor a Communist.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Joe

      Isn't that the hater's way?

      December 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
  20. Kelly

    Rush should do a little research. Carl Marx read the book of Acts and modeled his ideas on the early Christians.

    Carl Marx thought he could force wealth distribution on non Christians. Christians according to Jesus teachings give to all who need and live humbly.

    December 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Joe

      The only think Rush can read is when his Oxy is due to be refilled.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • BeBoppin

      FYI...that's "Karl"...with a K.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:27 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.