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. calvin

    Rush is like Cheney:
    1. They both keep running their big fat traps when no one wants to hear them.
    2. Everyone wishes they would both just go away and leave us alone.
    3. They're both idiots.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      The radio markets/# of listeners/audiences are a form of capitalism and Rush remains on the air because of said capitalism.

      And Francis' church has a built in audience/capitalistic system via the guilt trip of going to church on Sunday and paying your "ti-thes" sending you to hell if you don't. We should do away with churches and support the poor by direct contributions. He won't admit to it but a lot of the Catholics' Sunday contributions are going to pay for all the pedophilia settlements another good reason to abandon the RCC.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
  2. tinkansas

    I think Pope Francis needs to give Rush a head rub.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
  3. Robyn

    Rush admired Jesus right up until he turned him over to the Romans for a reward.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  4. Shaysite

    I hope the megalomaniacal gasbag keeps it up. The more he goes after a man like Pope Francis, the more damaged and irrelevant he becomes. After a year of this, Limbaugh will be nothing but a punchline.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • TCinNJ

      he already is a punchline. A pathetic hate-filled drug addict gasbag

      December 2, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  5. Robyn

    Just like that other commie pinko, Jesus.
    Wow, we gotta get rid of him, right Rush.

    Maybe you could tip off Pilate to where Jesus will be.
    There's probably some silver in it for you.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
  6. Journey

    This is what Obama has done to the world. Socialist healthcare this, free handouts this, equal pay for unequal work that...even this poor elderly man has been overwhelmed by this nonsense. We have all been driven into desperation by the Obama Administration. We can no longer hide it.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
  7. Mary

    Rush Limbaugh is a catchfart.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  8. tinkansas

    I think Rush is feeling a bit envious of Beck at the moment.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  9. san

    Rush laughs all the way to the bank at the ignorance of his followers..He spouts nothing but right wing extremist hate that stirs up the Republican base enough to get them to vote against their own best interests. .Who in their right minds would even think of listening to such a dark person that spouts so much hate..what a disgusting human that man is.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
  10. Doug


    December 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
  11. NickD

    So Rush thinks Christianity is marxism. Flush rush.

    Will his ignorant sheep ever get a clue.

    This pope is doing more to walk with Christ than anything Limbaugh and his ilk have ever done..or ever will do.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
  12. Dan

    You are just old
    Not sure who listen to you anymore
    Certainly not the younger generation
    Better start being nice
    Our generation will be taking care of you soon

    December 2, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
  13. Cat

    Last time I checked, the religious right regularly mixed their religious views with their vote. But I guess that's only okay if you like the view. As a catholic raised in the catholic school system, the views expressed by the Pontiff have been expressed by many popes preceding him and are in line with gospel teachings. The pope is not telling people how to vote but giving moral guidance and asking his flock to reflect on their own actions and the morality of those actions. I don't see any connection to Marxism. The pope is merely selling that having money has benefits but one of those shouldn't be using the power that comes with money to exploit those without it.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • stan


      December 2, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
  14. Margaret

    So, Rush thinks he is more catholic than the Pope...But I have more respect for the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  15. Joe Plumber

    Great words of wisdom from a druggie. Also, I believe one of the key aspects of Jesus' teachings was helping the poor and the sick, no? Why does anyone listen to this doughnut jockey?

    December 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  16. Schmoogalicious

    Well, for Limbaugh's information, Jesus preached socialism too. And pacifism. In fact, Jesus stood for pretty much everything Republicans and Limbaugh hate. Hilarious.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Joe Plumber

      Hypocrisy is prevalent across the political spectrum – but no one does it better than the right-wing Christians and "fiscal" conservatives. They seem to thrive on it.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
  17. Spencer

    I feel bad for Pope Francis, im not even catholic but ever since he has become the successor of Pope John Paul II he has been getting so much crap for everything. Like when he stated that he didnt find anything wrong with gay/bi people everyone gave him so much crap for that..i support him!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  18. TrumanTown

    Rush Limbaugh doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to both religion or economics. What a revelation! Maybe Rush's comments were crafted by evil lefties out to discredit him. Or maybe he actually IS ignorant.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  19. Kevin Williams

    This drug infused ignoramus needs to just stuff a sock in it. Llmpbawl has mastered oral flatulence!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
  20. Mike Ayuso

    Ah yes....social justice! "feed my sheep" Yes Rush, you ARE an idiot!

    December 2, 2013 at 11:18 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.