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. mickey1313

    It is true that the top 1% are needed, however, the workers that make the rich rich deserve a fair share of the rewards. I find it refreshing that the new pope is trying to pull the catholic church out of the dark ages. If the dark"Christians" who run this nation were half as civic minded as the pope, maybe we could pull this cespool of a country back up onto a stable and equal system.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:34 am |
  2. !?!wut!?!

    It's odd how these teabagging bloviators appear all of a sudden out of nowhere, say the most provocative, dumbest things that only fortify the belief that the tea partiers are all missing considerable brain matter. The more this fat, big-mouthed blubberer talks the more people will see what the teapublican party considers sane, rational thought. It's going to be a blood bath come election time for those flash-in-the-pans.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Nope

      So " fat, big-mouthed blubberer" is how sane, rational people think and speak? Careful now, your hypocrisy is showing.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  3. Mje

    This idiot needs to get a hotel room with Sarah Palin. Retarded, biggoted hatespew as usual from this obese clown. Easy to say Rush, from someone who lines his pockets by means of pure hatespeech. Go take some more Vicodin. Loser. He is a prime reason why the GOP has become a laughing stock amongst intellegent, educated people. If this guy had his way, he'd be holding John McCain's jock strap trying to start another BS war in a third world nation. Shame on you for attempting to discredit a man who is putting partisanship aside and trying to inspire people to love one another again. Humanity can be great again. You will always be a hateful, hypocritical turd.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:30 am |
  4. roccotaco

    The Pope needs to worry about these men of his running around in unHoly garb with their eyes on molesting children.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:29 am |
  5. kv

    I still haven't found anyone yet that can produce a logical argument why the rich need a trillion dollars while millions are starving. Capitalism is about as anti-Christ as you can get.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:27 am |
  6. Yes More Linbaugh

    thank god for CNN or i would have no idea what Rush was up to

    December 3, 2013 at 12:17 am |
  7. JC

    I'm split on this topic. As a conservative I very strongly dislike Rush, Jones, Fox News, and the entirety of the tea party movement. That being said I'm equally against the progressive movement. I believe in social liberalism and economic conservativism. The wealthy are a neccessary evil. The wealthy are the ones donating to the charities that save so many lives in the face of devastation, although their motives may not be pure. Also, the top. 10% of earners pay in over 70% of our nations federal tax revenue. The rich run the corporations that we work for, and create jobs for those that don't have the means to work for themselves. I believe the Catholic Church should be more of a Marxist organization. It's too much of a business, and the pope knows it. The Holy See is filled to the brim with billions of dollars of artifacts and money that will never see the light if day, which should be liquidated and the money given to the poor. As for governments , socialist economics doesn't work. The pope could eradicate hunger in the US just by selling a few relics.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:16 am |
    • RG

      People are confusing his theology with politics

      December 3, 2013 at 12:21 am |
  8. Padma Thornlyre

    Limbaugh, Palin ... shrug. You know what they "think" before they make utterance ... I'd really like to know what Paul Ryan thinks. Seems to me he's caught between a rock (his church) and a hard place (his politics). I wonder which will win out? Upon which shoulder will each voice sit? And which voice he will determine has the forked tail?

    December 3, 2013 at 12:15 am |
  9. mjbrin

    I believe Rush is a Methodist
    if he still is then he needs to reread their Creed
    especially this part

    "We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others and in the protection of their welfare in so doing; in the rights to property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and responsible consumption; and in the elimination of economic and social distress."

    December 3, 2013 at 12:15 am |
  10. Dominique

    Yeah, Rush Windbag.. how DARE the Pope advocate for exactly what Jesus taught?

    You Teanderthals are the problem in the world.
    You draw near unto Jesus with your lips, but your hearts are far from Him.

    You are NOT conservatives.
    You're fascists!!!

    December 3, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • Padma Thornlyre

      Regarding your last statement, seems to me they're one and the same.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:17 am |
  11. Chris

    Limbaugh isn't lying, the pope is.

    Not christian, not religious, but t I know a Marxist when I see one and there are a lot of these anti american traitors right here in the U.S and plenty of them are on T.V.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • ThinkAgain

      What is it about Matthew 25:40 that you don't get?

      December 3, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • ThinkAgain

      Heckuva way to court the Hispanic vote .... NOT!

      December 3, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • Padma Thornlyre

      Exactly which Americans are traitors, Chris? And what makes them that? That's akin to calling someone a rapist, or a murderer, so we have the right to know.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:20 am |
  12. TheAngels

    Someone needs to tell the Supreme Pontiff and fellow liberals that if they truly want to help the poor it's best to "teach them to fish". Care without pity. The poor deserve solutions that won't strip them of their dignity. Venezuela, Cuba, the Soviet Union. What do these governments have in common? Somehow the money never reaches the poor. Marxism = oppressive regimes = misery. I believe that poverty is sinful but prosperity is not a sin. Capitalism translates to hope and opportunity while Socialism has historically translated to malaise and despair (and very wealthy and powerful leaders).

    December 3, 2013 at 12:11 am |
    • Padma Thornlyre

      "...very wealthy and powerful leaders?" Hmm ... sounds a lot like Bush-Cheney, and Mitt Romney, to me. Tell me, exactly why do the "conservative" states in general have higher poverty? — and receive more federal aid? Why do those states contribute less in tax revenue but collect more from the federal government? Could it be that "liberal" economics is responsible, and leads to greater prosperity? Sure seems to. The more who are educated, fed and healthy, the better off and more productive the community at large.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:26 am |
  13. Bill

    If YOU disagree with Limbaugh.....YOU are un-American... and subject to his ridicule.....
    Thus the circle of Limbaugh Propaganda endures.......Americans would be better off Tuning Limbaugh & Beck OUT!
    It is all about the mighty dollar & those who support and financially support them!...

    December 3, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  14. dogmadekate

    This whole hooplah over the Pope's critique of capitalism is ridiculous. I don't thing the Pope is purposefully pushing a marxist viewpoint and I think Rush is making a mountain out of a molehill. That said, I don't think either the Pope or liberal Catholics (and no, I'm not saying the Pope is a liberal Catholic) have a good sense of how to best help the poor. If they did, they would realize that income and gender inequality is directly related to how free a countries markets are. The more free the economic markets are the less gender and income inequality exists. That's pure fact. Unfortunately so many these days would rather go by what sounds good or feels right instead of facing what IS good and what IS right. But people like Rush are way to combative to get the message across in a meaningful way. I will say that it's almost funny to see liberals and liberal Catholics coming to the defense of this Pope, saying it's wrong to criticize the Holy See, when not long ago they were equating the former Holy See with Emperor Palpatine, among other things.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • Tim

      bahaha, america has one of the widest income gaps in the developed world, nice fact

      December 3, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • Padma Thornlyre

      Really? You can look at American capitalism and keep a straight face saying that capitalism offers more economic equality? It doesn't. The disparity between rich and everyone else is frightening.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  15. newyorkjsw

    one MUST understand. be it Obama, Bono in U2 or now the Pope. If you are very popular, he fears Losing some of his POWER! When he was on the Oxi drug he took about 30 pills a day!!! any more then 4 or 5 and you are a MAJOR drug addict who has BIG BIG issues!!
    I am not catholic, have MAJOR ISSUES with the phoney church and STILL love this new Pope!!!!!!
    RUSH is for desperate people, like Fox News but even worse somehow!

    December 3, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  16. Ben

    All this politics, what with leftists praising Francis now and rightists being offended, and then when he reminds people of the more "culture war" stances of the Church it would be the other way around. The fact is, in US terms anyway, the Church is neither inherently conservative nor liberal, and doesn't care one bit about such labels. Why people continue to try to pin the Church or its holy father as such is baffling.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • newyorkjsw

      Ben: YOUR A D I CK !

      leftist...ect No one speaks like that anymore, u toad! I hate the church and love this new pope!!
      Rush broadcast his SHOW for DI CKS who are full of DELUSION like yourself!

      December 3, 2013 at 12:09 am |
      • Ben

        Umm... maybe you misread me, but I like the Pope too, and was also defending him against what Limbaugh said. I was just saying that Francis shouldn't have to be hassled by Limbaugh's ilk on the right or guys like Bill Maher on the left and will just continue to do the good that he's doing.

        December 3, 2013 at 12:13 am |
  17. betterdeadthanred

    Unfortunately, humans are not developed enough to accept communism for what it could be.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:04 am |
  18. Thalia

    Wow is Rush Limbaugh one of the dumbest people in the world?? " I go to church to save my soul, it has nothing to do with my vote"? Wow, what a complete ignoramous and HYPOCRITE!!! So you know Rush, you are the first SINNER listed in the Bible as the Hypocrite that uses religion – God is fully aware of you.
    How you think and feel and act should all by in sync – that is religion and righteousness!!
    Wow, if he has followers, then there are a lot of people in the US going to Hell!
    Hypocrites. Stop using my Christian Religion as a resume booster.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • newyorkjsw


      December 3, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Gregory

      I'm pretty sure that Rush has no idea what you're talking about. He's a mor0n and listens to no one but himself.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • dogmadekate

      And, in attempting to damn Rush and all of his followers to hell simply because you disagree with his politics, you prove yourself to be as much of a hypocrite as you claim him to be. Isn't it funny how that works. You disagree with him, so you try to paint yourself as more righteous, more holy, less of a sinner, and simply a better Christian and you have no idea that you just became the very monster you were trying to fight.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • Terry Wisland

      Dumb? Really? He's getting paid $50,000,000 a year just to criticize Obama, Liberals, and Democrats. He tells his followers what they already believe and they worship him. I think it's the advertisers on his show who are the dumb ones.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:24 am |
    • Padma Thornlyre

      I think Rush is the worst sort of atheist, through and through. Really not believing there will be any consequences for the hatred he peddles, he exploits religion for his own profit.

      And not to alienate other atheists I know, who are among the kindest, most thoughtful and more moral of my friends.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  19. That's just crazy talk

    The ignorant Jabba the hutt has spoken again

    December 3, 2013 at 12:03 am |
  20. Bob

    Hey, it's the Tea Party's favorite go-to move: accuse someone you don't like of being "communist", "marxist," tripe like that.

    December 3, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • Padma Thornlyre

      "Tripe" is right ... but it kept Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon in power for quite some time. How many lives did they ruin before they fell from grace?

      December 3, 2013 at 12:45 am |
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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.