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. NWO Minuteman

    Who the frack is this Rush Hudson Limbaugh III character? And why the frack is he on the opening page of CNN.com?

    He was a joke before my time, still is.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  2. Tim Barber

    Like the Pope is going to listen to this financial harlot over Holy Scripture...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  3. Jim

    Why do all the members of the "corporate wing" of the GOP all look like fat, pink, bloated pigs? Limbaugh, Cheney, Rove, Gingrich. They all look like they should be in a pen rolling in mud and eating slop. They all look like old caricatures of "greedy capitalists", sans the black tophat and diamond-encrusted cane.

    Oh, and Limbaugh ("allegedly" wink-wink) visits underage brothels in Central America.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  4. Momof3

    I guess Rush would know all about making comments that are 'sad' and 'unbelievable'...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  5. sammy750

    The Republicans and Conservatives seems to support the drug abusers, rapist and felons. They is who they elect to office.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  6. Baywolfe

    The "American Taliban" Tea Party have turned a war on poverty into a war on the poor. The believe that, if you're poor, you're either too stupid or too lazy. They have gerrymandered congressional districts to get themselves elected so they can push their idiot policies. If the old guard Republicans are RINOS (Republican in Name Only) then they are CINOS (Christians in Name Only).

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      i think your tin foil hat is coming loose

      December 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Gatorfan

      You can always spot an idiot easily because he equates the Tea Party with terrorists.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
      • Marty

        Did you actually READ what was written? Where did he equate the Tea Party to their being terrorists?
        Have you ever heard the phrase "A nation divided unto itself can not stand"? Ever wonder why , and who's, pushing the world in that direction? THINK!

        December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  7. Pope Francis is Right

    Jesus said, "Inasmuch as you did it to the least of my breathern you did it unto me". He has talking of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked. visiting the sick. He told one rich man to sell all his riches and give it to the poor. The Prophet Isaiah through the LORD tells us bringing the homeless right into your house. This Pope is living the Gospel and turning attempting to turn the Catholic Churches huge wealth to a better use. and convicting the spirit and souls of people to claim to follow the Gospel. The Pope is Righteous, Limbaugh in his opposition the Pope's call to live the Gospel is AntiChrist

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  8. kenkatth

    I forgot how much Rush Limbaugh looks like Jabba the Hut. He is a disgusting fat pig, I wish they wouldn't post his pic anymore. I feel nauseous every time I see that blow-fish face!!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  9. PhotoGeorge

    Rush makes about $50 MILLION a year; I think we KNOW who's side he's on.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  10. tlm

    Clearly you have no idea whatsoever as to the difference between Marxism and Catholicism. Wow.....teabaggers now insulting religion. Guess there is no-one left to alienate. You go worship at the alter of a drug addict because clearly your insane!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  11. Mary

    Rush Limbaugh is preaching to a bunch of very old people when he spouts off about Marxism. Today's youth does not have the same Pavlovian knee-jerk response to this terminology that the Boomers do. Retire, Rush. Oh, and leave our Pope alone!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  12. reality'sFinest

    if rush thinks the pope is marxist, wait until her hears what jesus has to say

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Michael

      Really. He should read the 'Acts of the Apostles'.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  13. joan

    Flush Rush

    December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  14. pbernasc

    why am I not surprised that a drugs addict idlot. who is supported by the GOP, is lashing out at a pope whose action are truly christian?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • tony


      December 2, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • InTheKnow327

      Nothing remotely Christian about it. Christianity is about giving freely in order to please God, not having the government take what you have by force and give it to others.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • pbernasc

        you have no real understanding what Christianity is ... and anyway Rush has no saying what the Pope wants to do about the Church ...

        December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  15. Big_D

    The GOP depends on the likes of the Walton family. A family that has made billions by paying low wages and making taxpayers pick up the tab. People should see the people who steal from them like the Walton's as the immoral thief's they are. Just because they steal with you through layers of abstraction doesn't change the result.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  16. Mike

    A guy that's been married four times can't be wrong...LOL...Rush needs to get back on his medication!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  17. McBob79

    You have to ask yourself one question. If capitalism is so bad then why is it that the U.S. is not only the richest country the world has ever seen but also the most generous? Both are indisputable facts. Which country generates more for the poor than the U.S. and further which country's economic system generates more prosperity?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • McBob79

      And by the way, do you think that the poor in other countries have benefited from globalization, especially from U.S. companies selling and creating jobs in other countries? Wait, aren't the Chinese and Russians exercising their own form of capitalism? Of course they are. Capitalism is why fewer are poor today than they were in the past.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Jeremy

      The Pope's position is not that capitalism is bad. It is that capitalism unchecked is bad. Most of us would agree that periods where human greed has been given full reign have not exactly been fabulous.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • BRC

      Capitalism isn't bad, unchecked, unmonitored capitalism is. If the US is the richest country in the world (doubt that, as our dollar has never even come close to matching the value of the Pound, or a few other select currencies around the world), it's because we lucked into a land with AMAZING natural resources and openly welcomed some of the greatest scientific and engineering minds of the 19th and 20th centuries. We WERE an absolute industrial powerhouse, who made great advantage of our resources and motivated labor forces. During that time, WE WERE PUTTING REGULATIONS ON CAPITALISM. We controlled top level salaries, we began making laws that protected workers, we regulated businesses, however slightly, to maintain safety adn equity. And it worked. In the last few decades many of those restrictions have lapsed or been stripped. Our workforce is drastically underutilized, and undertrained, our working wages stagnate while a slim fraction of top level pay bloats, and a large amount of our work, resources, and most definitely money, are outsourced to foreign countries because that bloated fraction wants to save pennies on dollars.

      I love capitalism, I believe in capitalism, but that doesn't mean you don't need to monitor and constrain the people that make capitalism work.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  18. Gardenmoll

    Boy, I really wish I believed in an afterlife. Seeing Rush trying to explain himself would be priceless.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  19. Tom Legare

    if Bimbaugh gets any more stupid and crazy they may just have to lock him up. Does he ever listen to how crazy he really is? This guy is a bonafide nut case pure and simple!! Although he's just a typical right wing nut too!!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  20. sammy750

    Who the HECK does Rush think he is GOD or the DEVIL. Limbaugh needs to have his big mouth taped shut. This guy is pure Conservative EVIL. We have a radical group of Conservative and he and Glenn Beck continue to be their mouth piece, ops add Fox News to that too. Let's get these people off the airways. They are the worst of TRASH

    December 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Briana Walker

      NONE of these guys will go away as long as they continue to sell detergent (or whatever they sell on their programs)! I would guess that their stupendous salaries are well exceeded by their advertising income. By the way, I assume that 95% of their listeners are white and 55 years older or more. And they are frightened.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
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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.