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. mac101

    Pope: Limbaugh preaches pure stupidity.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • aCriticalEye

      He preaches HATE, it just comes across as stupidity.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:34 am |
  2. Look

    if your God wants me to give up what I've earned and what is rightfully mine then it is not the God I know.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Must be a bit that was omitted from the Sermon on the Mount.
      "Blessed are the wealth-hoarders...."

      December 3, 2013 at 9:23 am |
      • Gorsh

        Dang, you beat me by a minute!

        December 3, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Gorsh

      "Store thy treasures up in you bank account for surely the poor are unworthy"
      "Blessed are those who horde their wealth, for surely the Porsche will be theirs"

      December 3, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • ellid

      In which case I sincerely trust that you are not and have never claimed to be a Christian, because that is EXACTLY what Jesus tells the Rich Young Ruler to do if he truly wants to live a righteous life: "Sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come and follow me."

      December 3, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • igaftr

      You know a god?

      December 3, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  3. Gorsh

    The thrice divorced, drug addict, multi-millionaire complaining about the Pope's understanding of Christian theology.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      A personal God always hates the exact same people that each person hates.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Mark

      The real miracle here is that three separate women would actually marry that bloviated ignoramus. The pope should investigate.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:34 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Many women find wealth ridiculously attractive.

        Shame the money comes at the price of their souls.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  4. Gorsh

    Rush has merely verbalized what most have known for a very long time.

    The Republican Party opposes everything Jesus ever taught.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Vyradder

      Yes, very much so.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • aCriticalEye

      let's not forget he also speaks for the ultra hateful bible thimping Tea Party.
      The GOP and Tea Clowns have to be eliminated !

      December 3, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  5. Scott

    Rush Limbaugh is fat, does drugs, and is known for his bad behavior. Rush represents much that is wrong with the Republican Party these days. Pope Francis on the other hand is a kind man who pays attention to the needs of others.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • sim namore

      And to honor this fetid sack of fascist lies, our own beloved Repugnants wanted to place this man's likeness in the rotunda of the U S capital? Unbelievable. As far as I know, his bust still resides in the Missouri state capitol building. This is what happens when Rand meets Jesus. Ask Ryan. Ask Walker. Ask Mittens. He'll tell ya–if he's not out visiting his special planet somewhere or riding his dancing pony.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  6. Gorsh

    "Christian" Republicans are the weirdest people. The #1 thing Jesus talked about was social justice-compassion for the poor, mercy for the immigrant, forgiveness.

    The exact opposite of what the Republican Party represents. By the way, Jesus never once mentioned abortion....

    December 3, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • jvburrows

      You can end the Obama campaign.....he cant run anymore.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:10 am |
      • Gorsh

        Obama is a worthless waste of skin, but Rush is worse...

        December 3, 2013 at 9:11 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        You identify social justice, compassion and immigration reform with Obama? I thought the GOP had recognized by now that they will have to move such things to the forefront if they are to survive as a party that will ever hold the center or elect a president on the popular vote.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:16 am |
        • middle america man

          Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six Presidential elections, and lost the popular vote for Confess, although they have the House because the districts are rigged. Polls indicate that Americans hate the House the most. They are finished as a national party and don't even realize it yet. Yay.

          December 3, 2013 at 9:30 am |
      • SkepticalOne

        No he can't, but when his term is done we will elect someone else for you to hate.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  7. richunix

    I hope you realize anything that is quoted “Spoken by Jesus” is questionable at best as in the academic world (Biblical scholars) most of what was written by anonymous scribe 200-300 years after the event are consider Pseudepigraphic and if nescessary I can supply historical reference. Question of the 13 Epistle Letters of Paul are consider amongst Theologian and Scholars to be Pseudepigraphic? Hint they are only 6, however we all agree that Hewbrews is forged.

    Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    December 3, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • MczDoober

      Wow! Thanks for tall that insightful information that adds literally nothing to the conversation about the topic. I'm glad you got to show off that atheist pride.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:25 am |
      • richunix

        What does my comments have to do with Atheistism? Is that like Gay-Pride or Christian Stupidity?

        December 3, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  8. Gorsh

    Hey Rush. Jesus was a Socialist. Get over it and pick a new religion.

    I can't think of any that preach protecting the wealthy, but maybe you can start one.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Jacobringo

      The idea that the republican party is the party of the rich is propaganda. MOST of the working middle class is republican. The privileged rich and the lazy poor are all democratic look at the country demographical statistics, its all there. Money in a cast system (when Jesus lived) vs money in a meritocracy (what we strive for today) are two completely different topics. The capitalist system is not perfect–but you have to admit that more different peoples see hope in the US than the socialist countries of Europe or Latin America...

      December 3, 2013 at 9:26 am |

    Rush LlckbaIls.. Fat FK P0S.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Andrew

      Luke 18:25 – For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:09 am |
      • richunix

        You do understand that Like the other synoptic gospels, the Gospel of Luke is anonymous, wrtten 200 years after the event by Greek scribes (Papyrus 4).

        December 3, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  10. John Balmer

    I would much rather preach the love of the world of Pope Francis as opposed to the hate of Rush's world anyway.

    December 3, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • No One

      As a moderate Republican who's also a economic conservative, I agree.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:43 am |
  11. Rush is a drug adict

    That is what all of Jesus' religions are supposed to preach you drug addicted fat ph-uck

    December 3, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  12. Paul

    So much for the GOP being the party of religion, huh? Seems they only use religion as long as it means, tax the poor, not the rich.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Live4Him

      Do you believe that all should pay income taxes or just some? Could you support your position?

      December 3, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  13. Truth_is_Truth

    People in the US are shocked that the Pope would espouse Marxism. This is not surprising for priests coming from Latin America where Marxist Liberation Theology is enmeshed with Catholic theology.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  14. Optimist

    According to Rush, Jesus may be a Marxist.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Ron

      Could be. Treating others like they are equals, do unto others, giving to Caesar what is Caesars, sounds radical to me.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Truth_is_Truth

      Jesus didn't preach wealth redistribution. This Pope has a Latin American background where Marxist Liberation Theology is popular.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • Gdawg

        Please, that's a silly and absurd assertion. You don't even know what Marxism is, let alone understand how it differs from the Catholic Church. Marx, by the way, was an atheist and no support of religion of any kind. To suggest that Pope Francis would or does support Marxist philosophy is just ignorant. To suggest as you do that the Church in Latin/South America is wrapped up in Marxism is equally ignorant. You might as well say that the Church is also wrapped up with Fascism too, as in Argentina, Chile, Boliva, Nicaragua, etc., since they have had hard-right, neo-Fascist regimes at time. Grow up dude. You don't know truth.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:12 am |
      • sim namore

        Ah, you must be thinking of that passage: "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." Does this mean you must pay your state taxes? Perhaps. It also means, 'if it's not Caesar's, don't give it to him."

        December 3, 2013 at 9:12 am |
      • mph66

        Actually, he did one better. He told us to divest ourselves of worldly treasures, take up our cross, and follow him. Feed and clothe the poor, heal the sick, love your enemies. I'm pretty sure Francis is right on this one because he is following Christ's example.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  15. skytag

    "Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'"

    Pope: Rush Limbaugh is preaching pure hatred

    December 3, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  16. Anna


    December 3, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  17. Jib76

    Matthew 24:24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Who should we listen to? John 6:67-69 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” What does Jesus say? John 21:14-17 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep!"

    December 3, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Ron

      Your point, in today's English.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Robert

      Don't you understand when you post your babble verses it just makes you seem like a mindless puppet? State your point and thoughts in your own words and you may interest people.

      December 3, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  18. Salty Bob


    Rush Limbaugh is preaching 'pure racist white power bs '

    December 3, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  19. 111Dave111

    Wikipedia has good definitions for those discussing Socialism, Marxism, etc. for instance this was under Marxism to distinguish what part the Germans Marx & Engels from Russian Leninism.
    Leninism says that capitalism can only be overthrown by revolutionary means; that is, any attempts to reform capitalism from within, such as social democracy and non-revolutionary forms of democratic socialism, are doomed to fail due to the inherent contradictions of the capitalist and labor class relations.
    The first goal of a Leninist party is to educate the proletariat, so as to remove the various modes of perceived false consciousness the bourgeois have instilled in them, instilled in order to make them more docile and easier to exploit economically, such as religion and nationalism.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • richunix

      Well done!

      December 3, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  20. BritHawk

    It's. Shame that CNN focused on the comments by Rush rather than the many sane pundits who have come out against the pope. A dialog about the pope and his comments would have been more useful than focusing on Rush and politics.

    December 3, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Cite some references and we'll discuss.

      December 3, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Science Works


      Dang Bishops again both are BS.

      ACLU Sues, Claiming Catholic Hospitals Put Women At Risk

      December 02, 2013 4:42 PM


      December 3, 2013 at 9:00 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.