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. Colin

    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas all religion is regional and a person’s religion, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than a matter of upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • FrmrMrne

      First, it's more than passing silly to come on Belief Blog and rant about your lack of belief. Or rather, to rant about other people's stupidity for believing.

      Second, the dichotomy between religion and science is a false one. They are not opposed. Science is exploration of the universe using observation and experimentation. Religion is faith. How people like you can set them up in opposition is beyond me. You may as well compare a chair to an orange and claim that one is false because it doesn't cancel out the other.

      Faith is just that, faith. By its very definition it is unprovable. Otherwise it wouldn't be faith. Faith is belief in something that you cannot prove. Science is exploration using methods that allow for and require proof.

      Now, you can keep on coming on Belief Blog to spout your hatred of all things religious. I suppose that's your right. But your reasoning is way faulty. You don't believe because you don't believe. Not because science tells you not to. Science has nothing to do with religion or faith. You're just the atheist equivalent of a street corner evangelical bible thumper.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
      • Colin

        So, if a person has a deeply held and honest faith that pixies exist, does that (i) make them real; or (ii) make the belief in them any less childish and baseless?

        Of course it doesn't. "Faith" is nothing more than an acknowledgement that the particualr belief is baseless and therefore, untrue.

        December 2, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
        • FrmrMrne

          Your logic is,.... illogical.

          And again, faith is belief in something that is unprovable. Your ranting doesn't actually change that.

          And your coming on Belief Blog to spew against faith just shows what an attention seeking troll you are.

          You don't need religion. You need friends. Try volunteering someplace. Maybe you'll actually find that most folks have a real social life that doesn't include grabbing personal attention by insulting people in their own space.

          December 3, 2013 at 12:20 am |
  2. Craig

    "I go to church to save my soul." If you work for Fox your soul is already a write-off. According to the Ten Commandments "Thou shalt not bear False Witness."

    December 2, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Philip Douglas

      Too bad Varney is fighting off his hangover.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  3. Colin

    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • NelsonLeonard

      Why does all this bother you so much? There are aspects of other religions I don't understand but that is fine with me as long it doesn't hurt me or others? You need to relax and not let these kind of things bother you.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
      • Colin

        The problem is, many laws and policies (e.g. contraception availability, a woman's right to choose, gays in the millitary etc.) are based on this Bronze Age Jewish nonsense. The more we can point out the absurdities of the belief the better.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          But those laws are not based on transsubstantiation. To try to control what people believe is just going to make you appear the one in the wrong – you're trying what the people you oppose want to do.

          Oppose the belief that you write your religion's preferences into law – that is where we've a just cause. Trying to convert the world is quite simply wrong. Everyone should believe what they think is true – providing evidence is not a bad thing, for the truth, but mocking beliefs is doing nothing.

          December 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
      • bostontola

        He seems amused. You seem bothered.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
  4. Josh

    I love rush... He does tell it like it is

    December 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Philip Douglas

      If you're into lies, sure.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Journey

      He's also done enough illegal painkillers to kill a horse. I don't put much faith in his intellectual abilities.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  5. chali jones

    Rush is an uneducated, bombastic, jerk who caters to the lowest common denominator of the American populist. Repubs, this is your hero.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  6. Colin

    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Catholic

    December 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Philip Douglas

      With all due respect, you're as obnoxious as Rush is.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
      • FrmrMrne

        Why respect?

        December 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Dan

      a + b + c = d

      December 2, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
  7. bostontola

    What is interesting is that Limbaugh proved that he doesn't understand Marxism, and the pope proved he is a quite fallible economist.

    It's amusing that the "invisible hand" is real, while the invisible god is imaginary.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  8. Colin

    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am being obstinate and closed minded due to my:

    (a) hetero$exuality

    (b) genetics

    (c) nationality; or

    (d) Catholicism

    December 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • GEORGE

      e) stupidity

      December 2, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
  9. Penn Jillette

    If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Colin

      That's a great point. I often wonder if future generations will look back in bemusement at how ours probed the sub-atomic world, sent probes outside the galaxy, tamed nature and cured so many diseases, but still believe in Bronze Age Palestinian mythology

      December 2, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • FrmrMrne

      So what? So are you just another militant atheist troll who has to sound off about how much you disbelieve in the comment section of any and every article that even mentions religion? I mean, your point has nothing to do with the article. Except that the article mentions a religious figure.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  10. Rhonda Williams

    So Republicans now hate Catholics. I hope people remember this when they cast their votes in November.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Dan

      What's there to like?

      December 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
  11. Christina

    It's official Limbaugh is an idiot. He understands nothing about what and who Jesus stood for: the poor , and sinners.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Nah. Limbaugh is very smart. He's just corrupt to the core. He will say anything and hate anyone as long as it is profitable for him to do so.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  12. Dugglcious

    Oh good. One thing Rush will like about going next is that there is no climate change. It's always the same in Hell.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  13. GEORGE

    Whatever you think of capitalism or Marxism or whatever "ism" you want to pin your hat to, the sad truth is that the world-wide disparity of wealth between the rich and the very poor serves to make that disparity progressively worse and the suffering of the poor worse, The words we attribute to Christ pointed that out very clearly.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Dan

      You can't prove a point by pointing to a fictional story.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
      • tallulah13

        One does not need a fictional story to recognize the increasing disparity between the poor and the rich. All you need are eyes and the willingness to see.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
        • Dan

          True but I don't see what his imaginary "Christ" has to do with anything. People have been starving in Africa for millions of years unfortunately.

          December 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
      • GEORGE

        I agree that it is a fictional story. But some of the most ardently self-professed Christians are the most vitriolic proponents of the unregulated free market. It's time their hypocrisy made them a little uncomfortable.

        December 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  14. southernwonder

    hope the pope would stop preaching marxism. however, marxism seems to be a part of the bible.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • Sara(swati)

      Communal ownership of the means of production is in the bible?

      December 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  15. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Dan


      December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • Philip Douglas

      Kiss my ass Anna

      December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  16. Buffalo2002

    Bobby Boucher's mamma says that Rush Limbaugh is THE DEVIL

    December 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  17. Doug

    Let's assume for a moment that the Pope's comments were Marxist in nature (they weren't, in the least). What I would like to ask Rush is, why would it be any more appropriate for the Pope to express capitalist views than anti-capitalist views? What about being Pope makes Rush think part of Catholicism is free market capitalism? I don't get it.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • Bigboard

      You are forgetting that Rush is a Jerk with a capital J. He gives us Republicans a bad name.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  18. Bob Powers

    The issue is that CNN and others have promulgated Rush's caustic comments which is exactly what he wants. Stay in the public light regardless. The real way to object to this is indifference. Without ratings, he has nothing.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • fandancy

      He is nothing anyway.

      Except in his own mind.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
  19. Jack

    Perhaps the Pope should be dispatching the Swiss Guard to deliver a few brains to deprived ditto heads and their bloated, bloviator-in-chief. He and they wouldn't know a Marxist from a Socialist from a Communist from a Methodist. Notice they rarely whip out the fascist accusations...little too close to home for all the wanna be masters of the universe for whom a cigar is never just a cigar.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  20. liberation theology strikes back

    as a former catholic, with men like him leading the church, i might come back, might. I'm agnostic, but I'm a proud former catholic, that loves to meet other catholics and former catholics and share our unique religious history. its like a club, protestants are just weird they take it too seriously, i.e. rush limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Katherine

      Well, I am protestant, but I love this Pope Francis and hold him in the highest esteem considering that he acknowledges and disseminates the true message of Christ. I'm not sure which God Rush and entourage are worshipping, it must be Lucifer they are worshipping because their words and actions are the anti-thesis of Christian Doctrine.

      December 2, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
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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.