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. Daws

    Yes, because it's Trickle-Down Economics or Marxism...those are the only options *eye roll*

    December 3, 2013 at 5:17 am |
  2. Barry Appleton*

    So I'd say this qualifies Rush as a low-information Christian ?

    December 3, 2013 at 5:16 am |
  3. Jeff

    Poor Rush, just can't take the fact that being a right-wing, capitalist-first people second, wealthy blowhard does not also make him a model Christian. Good for Pope Francis! An excellent, timely, and well-needd commentary on modern society and economics by a man who is asking us to remember the little poor man.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:16 am |
  4. clown man

    yah rush was in my band back in the 50's he played saxaphone , but he took to much drugs
    oh wait iam thinking of someone else , thats right rash limpbutts , sorry ....

    December 3, 2013 at 5:05 am |
  5. mynameis

    and then i got a big slab of pork and some eggs , a beer and a cigar , have a cigar your go far !

    December 3, 2013 at 5:00 am |
  6. Tom Martin

    You lefties seem to have a problem Limbaugh being overweight. Better keep those progressive eyes closed when the Democract Brotherhood runs a certain someone for leader in'16. Lots of people of color are overweight as well, let's hope there is no hidden racisim in these weightist comments. The hefty/chubby/fattie community has suffered so much abuse, progressives should be in the forefront of protecting their rights.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:55 am |
    • Mirosal

      It diesn't matter who the Dems pick in 2016. Limbaugh is so full of hot air, he has to store it somewhere!!

      December 3, 2013 at 5:01 am |
      • Inkman

        You got it Mirosal! As an Independent I just shake my head in disbelief that there are actually people so far right that they believe any of the garbage that this obese junkie has to say?

        December 3, 2013 at 5:34 am |
        • Tom Martin

          Oh no another Fattist. When will the hate end? First indians, then blacks , then women , then gays now the obese. You haters never stop. Progressives and indies join together and stop this hate on the hefty/chubby/fatty community. Let's stop the hate. Let's stop the attacks on those who are weight challenged. I thought indies are soooo open minded. Well, you never can tell.

          December 3, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Daws

      Making a strawman of a strawman....that's meta dude...

      December 3, 2013 at 5:16 am |
  7. steve

    hmm... i'm going to begrudgingly side with the pope on this one... only because I hate Rush Limbaugh more than I hate organized religion.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:40 am |
  8. M.A.

    Uh Oh...better watch it Pope Francis. They're gonna pull the plug on your resources if you won't be manipulated like a puppet and comply. To heck with charity! The worshiping of money must be renewed as being our single priority.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:30 am |
  9. SearingTruth

    "Economies don't trickle down, they bubble up."

    A Future of the Brave

    December 3, 2013 at 4:29 am |
  10. Mirosal

    If Limbaugh thinks he has all the damn answers, then let's see if he can put his ba'lls where his mouth is. Tell him to waddle his fat as's down to his local election comissioner's office, pay whatever fee is required, and put his name on a ballot. Then we'll see just how many people really think he's got answers. With his "dunlop disease" (his belly done lopped over his belt buckle), I'd be willing to bet he hasn't seen his "junk" since junior high. He probably has as shirine, and prays to, the spirit of Joe McCarthy every night before bed.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:25 am |
  11. Tom Martin

    Limbaugh got hooked on painkillers,so what? The leader of the Democrat Brotherhood was a drug user. Since the start of the leader's regime,1.4 million jobs created, two-third's of those are part-time jobs. 11 million people have left the workforce, during same period. Who voted against their own economic interests? You lefties are such angry kooks.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:13 am |
    • Richard Smith

      Watch the employment trends in the last 4 years of the Bush2 presidency and see who killed the American workforce. Hopefully you right wing knuckle draggers will go back to your caves soon.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:28 am |
      • Tom Martin

        Job numbers were good under G.W.Bush. The economic problems were a byproduct of dem brotherhood laws passed by former brotherhood lawmakers. But the current leader has all those green jobs, shovel-ready jobs. And don't forget those Obamacare web site jobs. Happy days are here again. Remember Obama had to follow Bush and it's only been five years that Obama has had to fix problems. Maybe in another three years. if we close our eyes and wish really.really hard.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:28 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Maybe if the republitards would stop filibustering everything Obama did he'd be able to do his job more efficiently. They should consider taking their bibles and going back to their caves and letting the rest live in a normal society unhindered by dark age thinking.

          December 3, 2013 at 6:39 am |
  12. Stateng

    I do not know why the GOP even listens to rush. He is so out there.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:10 am |
  13. I Woo

    Anything that Rush Limbaugh doesn't agree with is "Marxist". You see, if he can divide EVERYTHING into "with him" and "against him", he stands a better chance of corralling people into the "with him" category, enabling him / his parent compan(y)(ies) to charge more for advertising....

    December 3, 2013 at 3:57 am |
  14. cacique22

    The hair-crowing-out-of-my-a*s-draft dodger farts again!

    December 3, 2013 at 3:56 am |
  15. Rick

    Now I know why the GOPers are always so grumpy, they equate being kind with Marxism.

    December 3, 2013 at 3:47 am |
  16. Dave Blundell

    What a pile of ethno-centric crap. It's imbecilic to equate "care for the poor" with "Marxism." Why do we only want to listen to extremists people like Limbaugh who only spout extreme right garbage?

    December 3, 2013 at 3:41 am |
  17. secrtsqurl

    Somebody is hitting the Norcos again.

    December 3, 2013 at 3:39 am |
  18. Obama's Fault

    Another attention seeking fat American idiot

    December 3, 2013 at 3:36 am |
  19. JLS1950

    I'm sorry, but publishing Rush Limbaugh's opinion on Christianity and especially Roman Catholicism is like asking the opinion of David Irving on B'nai B'rith.

    December 3, 2013 at 3:29 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.