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. Steve Smith

    So the right wing is showing its true colors by going after Catholics. No surprise there. The right wing has always been anti-Catholic in the US

    December 3, 2013 at 3:06 am |
  2. BillF

    I'm sure I'll get slammed on this. Although I have not read the Pope's statements nor Rush's remarks I have no doubt from the headline that Rush's remarks lean correctly. I was educated in Catholic school by both Dominican and Franciscan nuns. Under the Franciscans in either 7th or 8th grade I distinctly remember a class discussion on how nuns practiced what was termed 'pure communism'. This was so because nuns by their vows upon marrying Christ own nothing, contribute all, and use as their needs dictate. Most Priest orders do not follow this prescription, as they earn income and in most cases a retirement plan or pension. However, being that the nuns pay allegiance to the Church via the Pope it stands to reason the Pope is aware of how they operate and of course condones, adheres to, and supports 'pure communism'.

    December 3, 2013 at 3:00 am |
  3. DNA

    Limbaugh is definitely scared of the "distribution based on one's contribution" aspect of Marxism. If we had Marxism, Limbaugh would be in a world of hurt.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:57 am |
  4. Neo Atheist

    Prayer changes nothing and if it did, it's the placebo effect.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:52 am |
    • Faro

      Others have different experiences with prayer than you.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:56 am |
      • Neo Atheist

        Tell that to all the people who prayed to their god when the typhoon hit the Philippines.
        They prayed and the typhoon still came. Many lost their lives.
        Yeah, prayer changes nothing.

        December 3, 2013 at 3:02 am |
      • Wes Scott

        Determination: that feeling you get just before doing something really stupid!

        Limbaugh is really determined to do something really stupid every time he opens his mouth. Come to think of it, so are most popes. As Forrest Gump's mother would say, "Stupid is as stupid does."

        December 3, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • SnideSwipe

      This is neither the time nor the place for that, Neo. Even those of us who don't hop joyously up and down on the religious bandwagon can kind of rally behind this guy. This pope has come out and stated that, you know, maybe Atheists aren't devil spawn and SERIOUSLY... you're being petty? Grow up. Bash the conservative prig that is taking pot-shots at a liberal, well loved pope for the masses, not the potential unifier of our times.

      December 3, 2013 at 3:40 am |
      • Neo Atheist

        Right, good way to dodge the argument.
        Any article about religion is fair game regardless of what you may think. I have no care for either of those liars. But between the two of them. Rush is the worst.

        December 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  5. thinker

    greedy little pig limbaugh doesn't like the truth

    December 3, 2013 at 2:44 am |


    December 3, 2013 at 2:34 am |
  7. Jan

    conservatards are never happy then again the pope is being "" too accepting"" of other people instead of hating on gays and being anti contraceptives....republicans fun fact Jesus was the most liberal person of his time sorry to break it to you he accepted and forgave all

    December 3, 2013 at 2:26 am |
    • Annie

      It seems to me that EVERYBODY wants to put their own "spin" on whatever the Pope says, and nobody is actually listening to what the Pope says. Maybe we should get out of our own perspective and try to understand what he's saying.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:33 am |
  8. NYOMD

    And Limbaugh preaches pure ignorance and stupidity. And we are supposed to take this clown seriously?

    December 3, 2013 at 2:26 am |
    • MD Supervisor

      True..He is nothing but a waste of air.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:50 am |
      • thenakedpolitico

        to think that the pope just demanded the start of the second holy roman empire and their are people in america agreeing with him is amazing,but then again maybe he;ll start up cage matches in rome again!!!!!

        December 3, 2013 at 3:07 am |
    • Neo Atheist

      Hey! I am offended. How dare you. HOW FREAKEN DARE YOU CALL RUSH LIMBAUGH A CLOWN.
      Its an insult to clowns.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:54 am |
  9. Tealiban is antiAmerican

    This pill popper is one of the reasons the GOP will not be in power again for a very long time.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:22 am |
  10. drturi

    Please read more about Rush and the Pope differences. Google 'Rush Limbaugh, Pope, Allen West: America ‘on verge of race/religious war?’ "

    December 3, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • Observer

      Limbaugh and Allen West are a great pair. Both are totally clueless about what a communist is.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:18 am |
      • Oscar Mendez

        Limbaugh need medical attention badly, this individual is out of control, is the most stupid semi-human in the planet, but his followers are worst.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:29 am |
    • bam

      there is nothing to google. The Pope simply is doing what Mr Jesus told him where the gop christian taliban is all about jealousy hate and intolerance

      December 3, 2013 at 2:31 am |
  11. drturi

    Please learn more about this situation. Google "Rush Limbaugh, Pope, Allen West: America ‘on verge of race/religious war?’"

    December 3, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • bam

      there is nothing to google. The Pope simply is doing what Mr Jesus told him where the gop christian taliban is all about jealousy hate and intolerance...

      December 3, 2013 at 2:31 am |
  12. jdoe

    Nothing new. Rush Limbaugh is just saying what conservatives are thinking.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:10 am |
  13. Doc

    Rush is a freaking idiot.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:07 am |
  14. Cascade

    Rush Limbaugh is senile and mentally ill.

    I'm not Catholic. The new Catholic pope has tremendously helped the Catholic image and is a humble, truly kind human being. As a true man of God should be.

    Who is Rush Limbaugh? Some half time, drunk rambling hick, with extreme stances and opinions that most disagree with. How is this clown still on the air?

    December 3, 2013 at 2:06 am |
  15. Bob

    "Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them"

    I wonder how a poor and uneducated person might interpret this statement? The term "rich" is a matter of opinion and should be better defined by the Church.

    December 3, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • FKell

      I think rich is defined quite well by the church, or at least by the ones who taught me while growing up. Rich was anyone who had more of something than others. In a way, almost everyone can be rich. You can be rich in love, and compassion, just as much as with money. The point is to share the riches that you have with others, and enrich them while also enriching your own soul.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:56 am |
  16. thenakedpolitico

    i'm glad rush sounded off,he pushed the envelope in the other direction,a pope saying there should be a world government is strange,,does he see himself as the head of it?

    December 3, 2013 at 1:58 am |
  17. Cassandra

    Perhaps Rush should pull out the specific New Testament quotes from Jesus that AREN'T Marxist. But wait. Not like Limbaugh knows what Marxism is in any case, but this is not a chicken-or-egg issue. One might argue Marx borrowed some of his concepts from Christ, but to argue Christ borrowed anything from Marx just indicates that Limbaugh can't do date math.

    That is, unless Limbaugh is better equipped to comment on the teachings of Christ than the pope, not to mention unless Limbaugh's understanding of time came from Stephen Hawkings, and not just too much Oxycontin.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:58 am |
    • Maani

      Cassandra: "One might argue Marx borrowed some of his concepts from Christ." Actually, Marx took his entire underlying economic theory from Scripture. Consider the following, from Acts 4:

      "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. And the mult.itude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common...Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need."

      Get that? FROM each according to his ability to provide, TO each according to need. Marxist theory in a nutshell. And Marx stole it from Scripture – and then had the temerity to call religion the "opium of the masses!" LOL.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:35 am |
      • Steamer

        Maani and Cassandra hit the nail on the head! The pope is referencing Christ, not Marx. Marx built upon the basic ideas put forth by Christ, but clearly got lost along the way. The catholic church is the largest communist organization in the world...although not without its share of sheep gone astray. I myself will have a hard time fitting through the eye of a needle. To say that the pope is preaching Marxism shows a severe lack of critical thinking or in-depth review of the material of either Marx or the pope. Perhaps he should consider paying attention to what was written by both instead of only going sound-byte deep.

        December 3, 2013 at 4:02 am |
  18. Nsteve

    People who covet what others earned thru hard work then expect equal life styles for no effort are the ones the pope should preach too.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • Observer


      Yep. Keep fantasizing that no hard working people are hurting for money.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:04 am |
    • Maggie

      You sound like a good Christian. Lol. It's sad to think that you're the kind of "Christian" that republicans think the poor should be leaning on for charity rather than government assistance.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:34 am |
  19. thenakedpolitico

    it's mostly what a pope should say,and it is supposed to be part of the discussion,but having the pope calling for a world government where his views are law,is very strange,i'm glad pushed the envelope in the other direction!

    December 3, 2013 at 1:56 am |
  20. TheLostSurveyor

    Has he never read a Bible? Jesus was basically a socialist.

    December 3, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • thenakedpolitico

      not true he was a man of religion,he stood outside the every day economy,socialists like you should stop trying to use the bible to defend your greed,your almost always wrong!

      December 3, 2013 at 2:01 am |
      • TheLostSurveyor

        You can say what you like now. But I've read the thing a couple of times. Nowhere in it does it glorify personal wealth. Quite the opposite. Don't even get me started on family values. Jesus turned away his own family.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:05 am |
        • thenakedpolitico

          the bible talks about good work, providing for your family,enriching your neighbors,bringing gifts when visiting,what it doesn't advocate is a begger class,i can't go to any restuarant,any store,read any newspaper,watch any t.v. without somebody telling me for only penny's a day i could save something,when in fact many of these orgs. are after one thing enriching themselves at my expence..you want to help somebody go right ahead,but don't tell me how to spend my money,or backup a pope that has appearntly declared himself king of the world!!!!!!!!!!

          December 3, 2013 at 2:21 am |
        • Observer


          Sure. Just what Jesus would say, right? Or maybe you haven't read a Bible.

          December 3, 2013 at 2:23 am |
        • Rock Reynolds

          Jesus' own family turned away on him first. They tried to lock him up for being insane (Mark, Ch 3, v21). I am coming to terms with the overrating of so-called "family".

          December 3, 2013 at 2:52 am |
      • A Christian

        I have to disagree as a Christian I'm told to share my wealth and give often to the poor as Jesus would.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:11 am |
        • thenakedpolitico

          you have my permission to give,you don't have my permission to insist i give,and the pope has no authority to declare a 1 world govt.

          December 3, 2013 at 2:40 am |
        • Silverwolfy

          I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

          December 3, 2013 at 2:52 am |
        • Rock Reynolds

          Jesus told the young ruler that the young ruler had to give up EVERYTHING to find God.

          December 3, 2013 at 2:55 am |
        • Silverwolfy

          If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.
          For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?
          Give to everyone who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.

          December 3, 2013 at 2:58 am |
        • Mike

          I don't recall in the Bible where Jesus gave money to the poor. He did heal a lot of sickness and even brought back people from death. In fact, he praised the offerings of a poor widow who gave pennies.

          Mark 12:41-44

          New International Version (NIV)
          The Widow’s Offering

          41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

          43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.

          Also, in response to "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.", Jesus was the only perfect human. Even if the guy gave up everything , he still would remain imperfect. At least until he was resurrected.

          December 4, 2013 at 1:10 am |
        • Monk

          Jesus preached and commanded that his disciples preach that the kingdom of God is the only hope for mankind..hence that will end these oppressive earthly Governments and there will be ideal conditions ..you see Jesus performed miracles (raising the dead ,healing the sick,feeding the poor)to show what he will do on a grand scale during his millennial reign as KIng of His fathers Kingdom

          (Luke 8:1) Shortly afterwards he went journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him,
          . 43 But he said to them: “Also to other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth

          math 20

          18 And Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded YOU. And, look! I am with YOU all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”

          Mth 24:14
          14 And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.

          December 4, 2013 at 8:22 am |
      • NYOMD

        You have no clue what being Christian is about. You are an utterly clueless and ignorant fool.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:28 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.