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. Anonymous

    "When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist." Archbishop Helder Camara

    December 2, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Maddy

      There lies the conundrum.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Dwt

      Well Said!!! Nice

      December 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  2. kcidybom

    I guess it's okay for Limbaugh to say this, as long as he acknowledges that what he preaches is "pure fascism."

    December 2, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  3. Steve S

    That fat Hamster-brain will say anything, to stay in the limelight.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Maddy

      Why insult hamsters? They're fairly innocuous.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  4. Mrs. Butterworth

    Yeah, it's always been scandalous that Jebus was a communist.
    Nothing new here.
    Move along.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  5. Bootyfunk

    seriously, what would republican members of the congress and senate do if jesus actually returned and came before them to plead with them to help the poor? jesus would likely want more food stamp, low-income housing and wellfare availability, as well as universal health care – and what would conservatives say to him? they'd hiss and boo at him. they'd think he was a liberal hippie from Maui. they'd fight against all his appeals for the poor.

    i'm an atheist. i'm not sure jesus is anything more than a fictional character in a fictional book. but christians are supposed to be followers of jesus. i've read the bible, cover to cover. i don't agree with a lot of things jesus said and did - but one thing i admire about him is that he was a staunch defender of the poor. seriously, read what jesus said - he sounds like a communist (giving out food and healing for free) much more than a capitalist (eye of the needle, turning over the money-lenders tables). yep, republicans would probably call jesus a commie.

    republicans love to tout that they are christians, but i don't see them being very christ-like when it comes to the poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • Positron Philip Douglas

      If Rush did, they would.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • jer

      Republican members of Congress don't speak for me as a conservative. Rush does not either. Im Catholic and some of the pope's statements make me scratch my head. Oh and btw Jesus flipped the table because they were doing business in the temple not because they had money so honestly I'm sure Jesus would feel the same way about the pope making political statements in St Peters office...

      December 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  6. Walpurgis

    “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.”

    Yeah, Republicans and Fox News would never do that, right?

    December 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  7. Doc Pock

    You have it wrong, Rush, Marx preached the ideas of Jesus. You and your kind are preaching the values of Caesar. Read some history before you speak. (Not that anyone with two brain cells to rub together believes anything you say.)

    December 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  8. marsilius

    The Christian tradition of calling for fairness, in society's economic sphere, precedes Marxism, by a considerable margin. In fact, it dates back many centuries, all the way back to the teachings of Jesus. Indeed, the secular tradition of writings calling for economic fairness, among the different levels of well-being in a society, precedes Marxism, also by a considerable margin of years. Conservatives seem to have a tendency to read Marxism into places where it just isn't present, such as this case of reading it into Pope Francis's views. And, as a matter of fact, there are grains of truth in Marxism, anyway. Non-Marxist thinkers are surely free to borrow elements of viewpoints to which they do not broadly adhere overall.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  9. Emma Morrow

    Socialism does not eliminate poverty, does not lift people out of poverty.

    Socialism does not create free people and societies, and it does not preside over massive charitable giving and compassion. Socialism, Marxism constrain people, limits people, prevents people from realizing their potential as human beings. The United States of America and its genuine exceptionalism has allowed people to reach the pinnacle of their ability combined with their ambition and desire.

    It's pretty much the one spot in the world, although there are a couple other societies that are free that have had had similar characteristics and opportunities, but not formally enshrined as have ours been. This is a country where your dream can come true. You can make your dream come true. It's not gonna be easy. It doesn't happen overnight. But it can come true. Most of the people in the world, their dreams are nothing but that.

    They start as dreams, and they end as dreams, and that's why people around the world have sought to come here. So reading what the pope's written about this is really befuddling because he's totally wrong - I mean, dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong.

    – Rush Limbaugh

    December 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Positron Philip Douglas

      Are you seriously this stupid to think the US is socialist?

      December 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      socialistic tendencies seem to be working well in finland, sweden, norway... happiest countries in the world. even france, switzerland, canada have a lot of socialistic tendencies (universal health care). rush gets it wrong, as usual.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  10. juice

    It's using that magic word 'Marxism' to install fear on people. Yeah most people are that gullible that's why he's still on the air.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Sara(swati)

      Except no one under 30even remembers when Marxism was feared, and most of the rest of us don't care. Limbaugh had his day, which is thankfully over.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  11. Hmmm

    Rush Limbaugh has super high ratings... because people love to hate him. Kind of like this religion blog...

    December 2, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  12. Emma Morrow

    A free society can't be controlled. A free society can't be dominated. It's very, very hard to pilfer and steal from a free society. The United States and an honest, objective look at its history, is all the proof you need to see the absolute benefits of capitalism. That's what we were. That's how we were founded. There's nowhere in the world approaching the standard of living that we've had.

    Now, it's true that leftists (identified as Democrats in this country) disagree. They think that standard of living is unjust and immoral, because not everybody has experienced it. But our country is such that the opportunity is there for everybody. No two people are the same. No two sets of opportunities are the same. Some people do have advantages over others. Like the Kennedys, for example, and other wealthy families.

    But they had to become wealthy in the first place. Somewhere in every family's history is somebody who earned it. So granted you can be born into a specific family and have your wheels greased more than others, but it doesn't impugn the system. It doesn't impugn capitalism. Because there isn't anything that approaches it. There's nothing that gets even close to it.

    – Rush Limbaugh

    December 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Positron Philip Douglas

      Try looking into a Bible sometime, you hag.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • tony

      Are you Rush's mother or something?

      December 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Rock Reynolds

      Kennedy's had to have someone get the wealth in the first place. Good point.
      Are there still openings in the Irish Mafia to run booze?

      December 3, 2013 at 3:06 am |
  13. Emma Morrow

    Look at the United States. How can you deny, how can anybody objectively analyzing and looking, deny the United States became a superpower. In less than 250 years, the United States became a military, economic superpower devoted to the concepts of freedom here and everywhere else around the world. We were the defenders of freedom. Our own and others. In less than 250 years, a nation of, for the most part fewer than 300 million people, produced an economy that created the highest standard of living the world has ever known. We fed the world, produced so much food, more than we ever needed ourselves. We were able to feed the world, and after doing all of that, we were able to provide disaster relief for anywhere else in the world that it occurred, where it was accepted.

    There's been nothing like the United States, ever, in world history. Nothing. And certainly not for this length of time, nothing even compares.

    – Rush Limbaugh

    December 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Steve

      In large part, we became a superpower because of Socialists, like Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Ford, who realized the key to national greatness was raising UP the masses to a high standard of living, and not enriching the wealthy to the exclusion of the masses.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
      • Emma Morrow

        There is very, very little the Left has ever done to benefit America in the long run. Most of what Progressives believe is actually a myth.

        The Middle Class was CREATED by Industrial Capitalism.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
        • tony

          Merchants in the Middle ages wen't formed by industrial capitalism. In fact lending moiney for interest was forbidden by the chritian church as usury. Hence the jewish bankers.

          Great example of small, hands-off conservative govt. though. Kings, a few noble landowners with private soldiers and the rest of as owned serfs.

          December 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
        • Emma Morrow

          The Merchant Class is not the Middle Class

          December 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
        • TR

          Actually it was the post wwii gi bill which created the middle class.

          December 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
        • pjhill1915

          Really? A great deal of free land had nothing to do with it? A high cost of labor was irrelevant? Lots of natural resources did not make a difference? Your triumphalism is so naive. Your disregard of the continual tug between the elites and the bulk of the people is stunning. You have no knowledge of the tensions between Federalists vs. Democratic-Republicans, Whigs vs. Jacksonians, Robber Barons vs. Progressives, Conservative GOPers vs. New Dealers, and so on have shaped the country. You are unaware that social mobility is now much greater in Western Europe than it is in the U.S. and that the average standard of living in more than a few countries is higher than it is in the U.S. You also have no understanding of how the U.S. presently lags in infrastructure, educational levels and research behind more than a few countries. What chiefly supports your ideology is profound, self induced ignorance. Mark Twain used to say that it's not what people don't know that gets them into trouble, it's what they think they know that just ain't so. He sure had your number.

          December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Rock Reynolds

      "not for this length of time"'?????
      Have you ever heard of Egypt, or Rome, or Greece, or Sumer?

      December 3, 2013 at 3:08 am |
  14. Joopinbeaver

    Rush Limbaugh needs to shut is fat P.O.S. mouth.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  15. el flaco

    Thiz no talent gasbag will make an extra $5 million this year because of this lie

    December 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  16. monty m

    rush is , Fascism Wrapped in an American Flag

    December 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  17. Clint White

    What has happened is that Capitalism has been replaced by outright greed. I remember as a kid watching a cartoon about how capitalism worked. Companies employed people...grew...made money...and then RAISED THE SALARIES of EMPLOYEES while investing in new and better equipment with the profits to continue to grow the business thus benefiting the company and the workers who now make more money to buy the companies products. THAT IS CAPTIALISM, even Henry Ford understood that concept.
    What we have now is that companies are only looking for profits to enhance their shareholders and maximize shareholder value. Thus, it is in the interest of the companies to keep wages artificially low to maximize profits At the same time, work is moved to areas outside the US to further increase the profit margin since wages are now considered a liability.
    This is ultimately a self defeating process since eventually (like now) the workers and consumers faced with low wages can no longer buy the business products. The only ones who get wealthy before it all goes bad are the shareholders (with the executive staff being some of the largest holders). THAT IS GREED and one big Ponzi scheme...not Capitalism Mr. Limbaugh!

    December 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Emma Morrow

      You're a Marxist.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
      • Positron Philip Douglas

        You're a liar.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
        • Emma Morrow

          You eat peas with a knife.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
      • Rock Reynolds

        Do you think Stalin was a Marxist, like he claimed? Do you think that the PEOPLE ran Russia, and not Stalin?

        December 3, 2013 at 3:11 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      What happened is that other countries developed the technology to compete, but with lower costs they can do it cheaper. We had fought against protectionism for decades so we could force our advantage on those countries, and not that we're at a disadvantage we're stuck with our out of date ideology.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  18. monty m


    December 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  19. James Barber

    No, viagra boy, it's called christianity, some thing you're very unfamiliar with.

    December 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  20. Emma Morrow

    What has been happening in this country the past five years? Exactly what this man claims to want. We have a president who has attacked the structural causes of inequality, and what's he done? He's raised taxes on the producers and the achievers for the express purpose of redistributing it. All he's done is create massive debt. He has destroyed jobs. There are 91.5 million Americans not working in America today, 91.5 million not working. All the while the president, 19 or 20 times, says that he's doing nothing but focusing on creating jobs, but he can't. No government can create jobs, not in the private sector. All they can do is hamper job creation.

    Now, if government wants to deregulate and get out of the way, then job creation will take place. What is capitalism? The value of anything is established in the private sector. That's where the value of money is established. That's where the value of work is established. The value of whatever it is you want to buy or trade, the private sector, capitalism, is where that value is established, not by government proclaiming it.

    The pope "also called on rich people to share their wealth." We were just talking about the charitable donations and contributions that existed in this country, and they are profound. The United States is near the top of the list in the world of charitable countries, but even with all the charity, and it is tremendous, it cannot compete with capitalism in elevating people out of poverty. There is nothing the world has ever devised that has elevated more people out of poverty than capitalism.

    – Rush Limbaugh

    December 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • Positron Philip Douglas

      I play a good woman as Emma, don't I? If I'm not complaining about Israel and gay coitus, I'm worshipping at Rush altar. All this, and I don't even know what Marxism IS, except if Rush says it, it MUST be true!

      December 2, 2013 at 9:48 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.

December 2013