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. Dan

    Odd that the right wing doesn't complain when the Catholic church is anti-abortion and anti-gay.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:27 am |
  2. adkaussie

    Why do you assume Marxism is a pejorative label? Do your research. There are many many people who embrace Marxism, which is all about redistribution of wealth, i.e., taking care of the poor. Limbaugh is right, whether he agrees with him or not, the Pope does indeed embrace Marxism, along with the President of the United States. We are headed that way, what's the big deal? Embrace it.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:21 am |
    • andrew

      Yep, "no big deal", except for the fact that history is peppered with societies that have failed miserably under Marxist ideology.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      No, he's not right, because there's a heck of a lot more to Marxism than redistribution of wealth.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:25 am |
  3. Rod King

    Shut up,stupid!

    December 3, 2013 at 7:21 am |
  4. andrew

    If it walks like a duck.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:20 am |
  5. Kathleen M Isabell

    I doubt seriously that Limbaugh has EVER read Marx. Marx was not a socialist as we define modern socialism. But of course Rush wouldn't know that. He probably can't read above a sixth grade level. Poor guy.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      I'm pretty sure the pope hasn't referenced ownership of the means of production or anything else classically Marxist. The US right wing are so poorly read they tend to label anyone who argues for increased economic equality as Marxist.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:23 am |
  6. 100% Fed Up

    Man, if we could just get big mouth Limbaugh first in line for the one way trip to Mars, we'd be a much better planet. There is NOTHING worthy, inspiring, uplifting or meaningful ever spewed from his disgusting and annoying mouth. Can not stand the jerk. First class piece of sheet for sure.

    December 3, 2013 at 7:10 am |
  7. ROSE


    December 3, 2013 at 7:06 am |
  8. Tom Martin

    Progressives show Limbaugh that the Pope was right. Instead of sending money to democrat canidates for the 2014 elections write a check to St. Jude's children instead.. Why buildup a political "war chest" when you can help the poor? Just because Limbaugh gives thousands and thousands of dollars to charities every year ,that does not mean anything. Capitalist ( before Obama) America doesn't help the poor. It's countries like China, Cuba, North Korea and Russia that help the poor. The Pope is right.

    December 3, 2013 at 6:50 am |
  9. angeson

    So the old foolish Limpbaugh, the religious leader of 15 million wealthy old white men, attacks the religious leader of 1.5 billion Catholics. I wonder which one could pass a drug test?

    December 3, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • Tom Martin

      " old white men" is a racist term used by lefties. Better check yourself. The color of skin means NOTHING!

      December 3, 2013 at 7:00 am |
      • Warrior Wizard

        Joe the plumber said we (The US of A) need a "white repuglican" in the white house. The racism starts elsewhere.....

        December 3, 2013 at 7:05 am |
        • Tom Martin

          Where does it END? The left are the biggest group of racists in America. The left groups, herds, judges people by skin color. Racial politricks by lefties is keeping this crap going. Race means nothing. Until people live that nothing changes. Today is what matters. We are just human, leave it there.

          December 3, 2013 at 7:36 am |
      • Jim

        Actually, Tom, that is a fairly honest, accurate,. and appropriate description.

        Which part are you saying is wrong...and why?

        December 3, 2013 at 7:36 am |
        • Tom Martin

          "Old white men" is a term used by the left to imply that politcal views of the right are BASED on RACE. The democracts, who gave us Jim Crow laws, the KKK, colored only restrooms now want to rebrand and act like it's the GOP that is against blacks, latins etc .Commie progressive propoganda , now the teaparty is racist, lower taxes-racist, borders secure-racist. It really means "old white(racist) men", so do not debate on the merit of GOP ideas cause its really just these old guys who hate blacks. It is a commie shell game. In itself a racist term to imply racism and tar the right.

          December 3, 2013 at 8:43 am |
  10. Mindforms

    Limbaugh is an idiot, the Pope is not going to wipe out 2,000 years of political conniving, double dealing, child molesting, heretic (i.e., anyone who disagrees) murder and other atrocities in a few weeks. The far right goes to church to get a badge so they can say they go. They don't actually believe that crap about taking care of others, giving your coat and cloak, etc.

    December 3, 2013 at 6:41 am |
  11. cellie

    All of you should read your bibles. Jesus was not some benign preacher looking upward, he was an activist whose "voice" and statements apparently would lead him to be marginalized today. Remember the Temple? The money changers, the weak, the rich. Maybe Rush needs to read the preachings and reported actions of the teacher before he condemns the pope.

    December 3, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • Venus

      That was at the Temple in His Father's House. He never preached that we must force people to give their wealth. The bible also says that if you don't work, you don't eat. Quote the bible in context. You can't simply pull out one part of scripture and forget about the verses before and after.

      December 3, 2013 at 6:52 am |
    • richunix

      For those who quote the Bible as “Truth”

      I have read the Bible numerous times, in fact I spent the last 10 years study it, so part of the Bible does contain some historical entries, but sadly the majority contains what we refer as “lest probable events”. The main question that arises during our discussion is “Did Jesus exists”. The answer amongst the majority of scholars (me included) is “YES” as a man, not what is painted so many years after his death. Modern Christianity has more to do with the Christian religion and less to do with the historical Jesus. Take the Gospel, Mark, Luke and Matthew make no mention that Jesus is divine, but the Gospel of John has no less than 11 entries and goes out of the way to state that Jesus is the Son of God and part of God (The Johannine Comma) which are extra entries that were added in the late 5th CE (Latin) but is absent from every known Greek manuscript prior to the 4th CE, or the Pericope of Adultery is not found in any early Gospel associated with John prior the remarks of Pope Gregory the Great 6th century CE (Homilies) and was added in the 10th century C.E.

      So the question is, of the 5700 known manuscripts (New Testament Bible in Konic Greek which are the earliest known versions) making up the books of the Bible which one would you say is the most correct? In short before you jump up on your band-wagon and declare it is the approved King James version, or the New World edited addition and was inspired by GOD. Remember if GOD meant for his word to be extant, then why didn’t he go to great lengths to preserve his word, this has puzzled theologian and scholar’s for centuries.

      You can try reading the Codex Sinaiticus , or the Codex Vaticanus (Codex Bezae, 8th century) both written in the 5th century. Both version have the most complete version of earlier Bible and some more books, however they have MAJOR difference between your current version. Or you may take your hand (like the rest of us) and learn Konic Greek, so you can read the very early version of the Bible like, Papyrus P52,46 or P75. You listed historical names from the Bible, maybe you should try reading the Gnostic Gospel such as The Gospel of Mary, James, Peter…better yet the Gospel of Judas (published in 2006) or the Gospel of Solomon (or King Solomon), how about the Gospel of Jesus himself?. Do you even know the difference between the Gnosticism and Docetism? Take your current four Gospel and read the Crucifixion stories, which version is correct, when only one (unnamed Apostle was present) and yet they all have different words spoken by the dying Jesus, different way’s and times he died. To make matters worse none of the Gospel state ANYONE saw the resurrection (read your Bible Matthew Chap 27, Mark Chap 16, Luke Chap 24, John Chap 20)). They all differ in the account who saw who and who spoke to whom. The bible you see today is not the bible that was originally written 2000 years ago, in fact not even close. None of the Gospel are/were not written by any of eyewitness they are penned after, they are in fact written century’s later by trained Greek scribes, you need to read more about Teutullin and Irenaeus. We do not HAVE any surviving Gospel from the 1st century, it is not until the 3rd century we have a few incomplete Gospel (P46/75) and the most complete by the 4th century and even these do not match the earlier version, let alone the prolific number of versions that were created in the 7/8/9th century.

      December 3, 2013 at 7:01 am |
      • canuckobserver

        Thank you for an educated post. I am not sure that I concur with some of your statements but at least it is well written and thoughtful.

        December 3, 2013 at 7:47 am |
  12. saywho

    A real ultraconservative hater of anything not lining his pockets.

    December 3, 2013 at 6:24 am |
  13. George

    This idiot will come up with something when nobody is paying attention to him! Suffers from attention deficiency!!

    December 3, 2013 at 6:22 am |
  14. RJay

    I think the Pope's comments were over the top. Whether or not you as an individual support them or believe them, they will cause great consternation in the world and we don't need any more of that.

    December 3, 2013 at 6:17 am |
    • Sid Prejean

      A little "consternation" is exactly what some folks need.

      December 3, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • TSRVT

      Only among the right-wing trash will those remarks cause consternation. We decent people welcome a Pope who is half-way human for a change.

      December 3, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      Which comments specifically do you consider over the top?

      December 3, 2013 at 7:31 am |
  15. Waterboard

    The Pope scolded by a pill popping racist?

    December 3, 2013 at 6:12 am |

    I like Rush Limbaugh. Who wouldn't? He's harmless. He is the court jester to...let's say...me, the Hierophant, or you,The Magician or The Queen of Wands. Actually, I have never spent more than thirty seconds at most-and this short span of time only a handful of times-listening to R.L'S opinions. His voice is classic circus barker; haughty hucksterism, false, offensive, Shylockian, bombastic, base & abrasive. It has a foul odor about it, which, if you listen, you can taste. It smells like a cow carcass decomposing in a NYC sewer in the middle of August. I don't have any opinion of what he is talking about because of the reasons I just spoke of and that when someone shouts, I can't hear them. He seems to be all about money. I needn't point out that he is exactly the capitalist without a moral compass Pope John II spoke of and who Pope Francis is speaking of now. He is so low in an absurd and amusing way. It is as if he believes we believe him. That is too cute & so very transparent, I just want to squeeze him as I would a Dough Boy doll. Why are people, some people, so willing to keep him in cigars & furs? There are many folks such as myself who are not affiliated with any political party. From where we stand it is clear both alpha parties in the USA are dominated by silly twits who should be cavorting and assisting each other for the good of our country and our planet. Limbaugh is a fine example of a low person in a high place, and I suspect those are the kind of people who want to be in with his 'in crowd.'

    December 3, 2013 at 6:11 am |
  17. jonline

    I fail to understand how a Protestant gets a say on what the Catholic Pope is doing.

    December 3, 2013 at 6:06 am |
    • pigkiller

      And what country do you live in?

      December 3, 2013 at 6:16 am |
      • TSRVT


        December 3, 2013 at 6:54 am |
  18. John Feltz

    red baiter in chief

    December 3, 2013 at 6:02 am |
  19. miscreantsall

    This is what I'm talking about with Republicans:

    "“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.”"

    Yet, they promulgate connection of Church and State when it suits them. This behavior is so transparent, yet not enough people catch it.

    As far as Rush goes…………….a real piece of sheet.

    BTW………..I'm no fan of the Pope.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:37 am |
    • Real Talk

      The pope literally is pushing Marxism. I've never liked the neo conservative evangelicals doing it and I'm no fan of liberals trying to end separation of church and state neither like trying to make gay marriage a political debate when it should be up to the clergies, not your politicans. You should read Behold a Pale Horse by William Cooper and listen to his old radio show Hour of the Time the Mystery Babylon series and you'd understand why the media is pushing how great this pope in propaganda. Just forget the catholic church touches children regularly because the pope hugged somebody disfigured and mocks Christianity on a constant while secretly trying to promote a Marxist socialist revolution.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:46 am |
      • sam stone

        equal rights should not be up to the clergies

        December 3, 2013 at 6:00 am |
        • Robert Constant

          Actually, the Pope's view is that the Republicans callous disregard of the poor is a violation of the Commandment,"Thou Shalt Not Kill." Thus, this is not about "equal rights" but about a system that allows fellow human beings to suffer and even die. The Pope was speaking to Catholics as the spiritual leader of the faithful on a question of morality.

          December 3, 2013 at 7:26 am |
      • Krangle

        Wait a minute, conservatives are trying to put creationism and young earth biblical BS in school science class. That is the most vile corruption of separation of church and state.

        December 3, 2013 at 6:35 am |
      • sigmundfreud

        You say that the Pope is "literally" trying to push Marxism? Then literally, you do not know what Marxism is. Go learn a few things before posting your lack of knowledge.

        December 3, 2013 at 6:35 am |
      • TSRVT

        Church and state are separate, you fool! They are separate for a damn good reason, so creeps like you don't push your religion down other's throats. If you don't like that, then get the hell out of my country. It's really that simple.

        December 3, 2013 at 6:56 am |
      • Science Works

        Hey Real Talk

        They lost according to Dolan – all about marketing = money – NO gods required !

        The RCC's biblical stand on marriage and procreation is a destructive force for humanity.

        Catholic Church Has Been 'Outmarketed' On Gay Marriage, Says New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan


        Also Hawaii is the latest state to legalize same se-x marriage.

        December 3, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Fax

      He is mistaken. You don't go to church to "save your soul" Jesus can do that anywhere. You go to church to fellowship and worship God with other believers. But that's what RELIGION does to people. With Christ Jesus you are in a RELATIONSHIP.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:51 am |
      • Robert Constant

        Your religious views are nothing more than YOUR religious views. However you do have a right to voice them without being called names.

        December 3, 2013 at 7:21 am |
  20. Robert Barrett

    Hmmm. Well, considering he's the Pope and he's preaching the doctrine of Christ . . . maybe it's more likely Marx was preaching Catholicism?

    December 3, 2013 at 5:26 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.