December 2nd, 2013
11:29 AM ET

Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. Haruko Haruhara

    Pretty sure Francis doesn't give a hoot about what a non-Catholic three-time divorcee and repeat drug fraud who makes fun of people with Parkinson's thinks of him.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • joan


      December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    The "Re-ugly-can party has a perfect poster child. Hate, greed, stupidity.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  3. religious & dumb

    I believe in God, but I can't trust Christians and pedos. They are NOT trustworthy.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  4. VJ

    Pope is the most respectable man in the world regardless of all the religions.. This pope is truly an awesome... He will unite this world and will take it to the next level, on the flip side Rush is the least respectable man in the world. That ends my comment.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  5. sammiclark

    This is the only pope I have ever thought was a half-way decent person. Considering rushy POO limPbaugh is upset with him teaching the bible is just MORE reason to like him. How can a man that has been married FIVE times claim to know ANYTHING at all about the bible?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  6. Peter

    So, the Catholic church finally has a Pope who takes Christ's teachings seriously, and Limbaugh responds by pulling "Marixst" out of his bag of flatulent insults. This only demonstrates Limbaugh's ignorance of both the Bible and Marxism.

    Limbaugh is more morally and intellectually disabled than the tumor-ridden man whom Pope Francis recently embraced in public, yet Pope Francis would almost certainly reach out to him as well - that's what true Christians do. I don't believe in a literal Hell, but if it exists, there must be a special corner reserved for the likes of Limbaugh, Coulter, et al.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  7. haddock

    Clearly disposa-wife, pill popper Rush has more moral authority than Pope Francis. I'm sure he also is better read on the teachings of Jesus, and thus in a much better position to define what being "Christian" means.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  8. stevetall

    So disappointed to see CNN putting Lush the Uber-Clown on the front page. When will this idiot dry up and blow away? Dear God, Please make it soon!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  9. Gonzo

    CNN. Why are you giving this clown top-story billing? That's what he wants. You just increased his market share by lending credibility to the hate and fear mongering that he preaches. Please report the news. This, quite obviously, is not news.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  10. Lemon Talks

    this article was like throwing a pile of shít in front of bunch of flies (liberals)

    lets watch as they go ape shít.

    only the word Sarah Palin could cause as much of a liberal freak out.

    lets watch shall wee.............

    December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Trolling should never be this boring.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • haddock

      So, I take it you find nothing off about Rush "preaching" to the Pope? Just wondering if you had a view on his latest enlightened pronouncement.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • letstalkfacts

      Nothing for you to see or say here, Lemon – move along now

      December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Fremania

      Lemon, you are the fly.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  11. This should be easy

    No, the Pope is finally bringing the church into the 21st century. It's Rush's comments that are always sad and unbelievable.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Christine Holmes


      December 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I think Rush is reading too much into this. Obama and many banks and corporations are driving us to Fascism, and it's very much about money, just in the hands of the already filthy rich and powerful.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • haddock

      Riiigggghhhhtttt. The interesting thing about Rush's comment is that somehow Obama is a fascist. How does your comment have anything to do with the Pope's call for Christian's to attend to Jesus's preferential option for the poor or Rush's view that taking Jesus seriously is anti-Christian?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Fremania

      Prescott Bush and his bank sent money to Adolph Hitler.
      George HW Bush was head of the CIA during the Kennedy assassination.
      George Dubya Bush was in charge when 911 happened,

      You GOP lovers would do better at some homework
      about your heroes.

      These people don't give a screw about anything but control and bank statements.

      You are some very sad people, but that's the education they gave you.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  13. Vicki Gentler

    Maybe Rush doesn't know much about Christianity, but Jesus was more similar to a Marxist than a capitalist. Remember that Jesus quote about the rich man and the camel going through an eye of a needle. Poor Rush needs to get a grip.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  14. robCM

    There is only a small percentage of Americans that listen to the fat boy.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  15. gladiatorgrl


    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  16. bmckay

    Another right wing ideologue who thinks America isn't a socialist country. Hey Limbaugh!! Every one of your so called "capitalists" gave up their right to call themselves that when they took even just ONE dollar of Gov't. (TAXPAYERS) money.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  17. Kevin


    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  18. Paul

    This is what happens when a troll gets media coverage.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  19. palintwit

    Sarah Palin's collection of battery operated adult toys is said to be worth millions. Like the Faberge' Eggs once owned by the Russian Czar, these objects will be put on public display at museums all over the world. Tea party patriots are already lining up to buy tickets in advance.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  20. Revtim

    How dare the head of the biggest Christian church actually follow the teachings of Christ!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • gladiatorgrl

      "God forbid"!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169
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.