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. Eric Rose

    Anyone who is as sure as Limbaugh is that they are right and others are wrong is an idiot.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:55 am |
  2. Tony in St. Louis

    Come on people. Rush is nothing more than a talk show entertainer. When cornered, he'll say "I'm just an entertainer!" People who believe in him are ...not very intelligent. Kind of like people who believe that WWE wrestlers "really" attempt to beat the crap out of each other every week! You just can't fix the willfully stupid.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:53 am |
  3. gusm

    And this pig is an expert on piggery.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:53 am |
  4. renegade98

    The ever crazy Rush strikes again with an outrageous bit of garbage feeding his trolls.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:53 am |
  5. shaun


    December 3, 2013 at 1:53 am |
  6. Jules

    What an idiot!!!!

    December 3, 2013 at 1:52 am |
  7. Peter Scott

    Thought so all along! Rush Limbaugh is the Anti Christ!

    December 3, 2013 at 1:47 am |
  8. elvinmerij

    "He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. " -- ummm, nope.

    You're wrong Varney. Dead wrong. Economic system? Yes. Political system? No.

    Oh I know you are throwing a red herring in there, just to stir the pot. But you are wrong ..... and you know it.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:45 am |
  9. Cassarit

    I'm proud to say I'm a fiscal liberal social conservative!

    December 3, 2013 at 1:45 am |
  10. Peter S

    Ah yes, now I remember. Poor Rush, he is the drug addict who thinks he is much smarter than he is. He clearly knows nothing about Catholic social teaching and it doesn't appear that he knows much about economics or history either!

    December 3, 2013 at 1:43 am |
  11. Scott

    I admire the strengths of Capitalism as much as anyone. But when you know these people seemingly worship Ayn Rand even more than the pope–a woman whose fiction envisioned a prooductive utopia if all the the good capitalists of the world were dumped together in a remote mountain valley instead of eating each other within a week like they would in the real world–then you realize how unbalanced their views are.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:42 am |
  12. Ian Seattle

    Funny, when it is redistribute money to the poor it is that evil Marxism. When it is tax breaks for the wealthy, it's capitalism, regardless of the progressive or regressive nature of the tax code. This guy is full of dope and really should be dragged off the airwaves for propaganda and misinformation.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:37 am |
  13. Joseph A. Silva

    Rush: "The commies! They've come to take our money and our bacon!!! Eaaaagggghhhh"
    Me: "No grandpa... The cold war ended over twenty years ago..."
    Rush: "It's the pope! He's a commie! "
    Me: "...he always gets like this when he forgets to take his meds..."

    **A work of fiction, of course...

    December 3, 2013 at 1:37 am |
  14. Jimmy Tuscon

    Lemme get my comment in here!

    December 3, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  15. Boom

    How can the right be Bible thumpers, yet be totally, utterly, and completely against everything the Bible teaches?

    December 3, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • Observer


      December 3, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • Mike

      Watch it. The hypocrites will tell you that you are going to hell. After all they do set the standards and have received special "Judging Rights" from God himself.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:56 am |
  16. Forbetter Orworse

    Limbaugh, as the drug dealer and addict he has proven himself to be, thinks he knows capitalism because money was his get-out-of-jail-free card. By definition alone, all drug dealers are also staunch right wing Capitalists!!!!!

    December 3, 2013 at 1:31 am |
  17. Brian Ellis

    "Oh. Rush, I apologize; I forgot you were there. You may go now."

    December 3, 2013 at 1:29 am |
  18. dick E. Normus

    This fat pig never knows when to shut his face. Figures he's a Republican

    December 3, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • Mike

      What? The Pope is a Republican?

      December 3, 2013 at 4:48 am |
  19. MV

    As if Rush Limbaugh has ever actually read a book by Karl Marx...

    December 3, 2013 at 1:27 am |
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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.