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December 2nd, 2013
11:29 AM ET

Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(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. Sally

    How pot-meets-kettle of Rush to say the Pope is "dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong." Rush is delusional as always.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:49 am |
  2. mark

    Sad, fat turd...........

    December 3, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  3. Grumpster

    Jesus was a liberal who spoke out against the excesses in the church, he preached healing and love of those less fortunate. If he was alive today he would be called worse than a Marxist by the likes of Mr Limbaugh.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Norm

      People who speak out about the excesses of large central authorities are called CONSERVATIVES, you git!

      December 3, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • mickey1313

        In the rest of the wprld perhaps, but Americans don't understand the meaning of the words conservative and liberal. Someone conservitive doesn't suport wasting billions in a shadow war. And no libral suports a reduction of rights. But the right favors bleeding money out to unwinable wars. And the left is for stealing your rights.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • TotalRecall

      Jesus did not engage in civil politics, except to say, basically, if you owe taxes, then pay them. Rush is equating the Popes teachings to a political philosophy. I would hope that the Pope would not become embroiled in civil politics, but keep his focus on the church.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  4. Doug

    The Right (or at least their media folks–which let's be honest–they give the rest of the Right their marching orders and they fall in line like good sheep), would accuse Jesus also of being Marxist, except that wouldn't go over well with the religious right.

    But I did notice that the kinds of things the new Pope is expounding is very much in line with Obama's deeds as president. In a normal world, this would be highly praise-worthy for a president, but it hasn't been a normal world on the Right, especially since a black man took office.

    So instead of being perceived as a Christ-like man who cares deeply for the poor and down-trodden, Obama has long been accused by the Right of being Marxist, Communist, etc. etc. Mostly words they don't even really understand the true meaning of, but are really just scary buzz words doled out by the Right-wing propaganda echo-chamber and absorbed by the masses hook, line and sinker.

    And so, I guess seeing this kindness being espoused by the Pope, Rush (wearing his poo-colored glasses as usual) sees the Pope now as a "Marxist" as well, instead of as a humble and caring Pope who is bravely challenging decades, if not centuries of selfishness in the church.

    Why am I not surprised?

    December 3, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  5. Ware2Run

    Just dessert would be to see Limbaugh go out the Breitbart way, where he will have a major coronary from the all the pills he takes, the cigars he smokes and the all bad food he eats. Hey there Blubba Limpbiscuit, you just lost the Latino Catholic vote for the Republicans. You're not the first to sell out but follow in the footsteps of Judas Iscariot who sold out on Jesus for money.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  6. Bob Bobson

    Trickle down economics doesn't trickle down.

    It destroys the middle class and eventually destroys Democracy.

    You can either have a country where most of the wealth is owned by very few people or you can have a Democracy. You can't have both.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Unfallible

      It would be helpful if you knew the meaning of "trickle down economics."

      It has nothing to do with wealth redistribution and everything to do with wealth creation. Liberals all have a panhandler mentality.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:49 am |
      • Bob Bobson

        It doesn't create wealth.

        It makes the wealthy wealthier while it drives up deficits.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:52 am |
      • mickey1313

        And repubs all believe the rich could do the work without the poor, guess what, they can't.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • JDC

        Bob didn't say anything about wealth distribution, did he? Maybe YOU don't know what it means.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  7. Unfallible

    "Trickle Down" is the engine of capitalism. A person with money creates a small business, employees are hired, paychecks trickle down. That's not a tough concept.

    So much for the concept of an infallible pontiff.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      It's also not correct.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • sonny chapman

      The Pope is only saying the WORDS of Jesus as found in the Four Gospels. Jesus said that every word that he uttered came from the Father(Creator). Believe or don't believe.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • sonny chapman

      P.S.-on the secular side, Bill Clinton proved that Trickle Down Economics doesn't work for the Middle Class. George W. Bush confirmed that.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Bob Bobson

      The 10+ years that Bush's trickle down tax cuts for the rich were in effect was the lowest period of economic and job growth on record.

      The rich got richer and everyone else got crushed.

      Trickle down economics has never worked because it doesn't trickle down.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:47 am |
      • Unfallible

        It would be helpful if you knew the meaning of "trickle down economics."

        It has nothing to do with wealth redistribution and everything to do with wealth creation. Liberals all have a panhandler mentality.

        December 3, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • Bob Bobson

          The 10+ years that Bush's trickle down tax cuts for the rich were in effect was the lowest period of economic and job growth on record.

          December 3, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • sonny chapman

          I.m liberal. Not as liberal as Pope Francis or Jesus or the Father. I was raised that way by my Earth father. Neither he or I are panhandlers. Thanks for the insult though," Blessed are you when they insult you because of me." Matthew 5,11.

          December 3, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • CJ

          BS it was about cutting taxes for the wealthy, cutting regulations and look what happened. Greed took over, and our country was robbed, we went into a recession and Wall Street, banks and the like, etc., were not held responsible. Giving out subsidies, companies like GE don't even pay taxes, yet we want to cut food stamps. And you talk about wealth distribution. People like Limbaugh are so dangerous bc it is believed. I can't tell you how many people believe this, and some are decent people, they think all this brainwashing propaganda is true.

          December 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • BRC

      That's not actually what the trickle-down part is supposed to represent. the trickle down concept, is that AFTER teh small business has been formed, as the business prospers, and the business owner begins making more profit and money, he will share a greater portion of it with the workers by increasing their wages. thus the wealth trickles-down. the problem is that except in rare cases, that's not what's been happening, adn it's not what people are seeing. More commonly, as the business became more profitable and the owner begins making more money, he will leave wages where they are, but try to find a way to cut down on overhead adn production costs (potentially at a loss of worker salary or through layoffs when outsourcing is utilized), and will pocket the increased profits until the business is positioned well enough to be sold to a larger conglomoration for a substantial payout that NONE of the workers will see a dime of. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, capitalism.

      Funny thing, I believe in capitalism, but that doesn't mean I trust people. We need to have rules in place to stop people from being as awful as we can tend to be, or there will be a large number of people suffering for a small number's gain.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:52 am |
      • Unfallible

        No, you're describing wealth redistribution.

        Everyone that receives a paycheck from a "wealthy" person that they would otherwise not receive by sitting at home is participating in capitalism and benefiting from "trickle down" economics.

        Liberals are panhandlers.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:01 am |
        • sonny chapman

          "Blessed are you when they insult you because of me"Matthew 5,11. So thanks Unfallible, And I'm sure the Pope is grateful to Rush. He's given him a huge megaphone to Evangelize the Words of Jesus as found in the Four Gospels. The Lord truly works in mysterious ways.

          December 3, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • BRC

          Unfallible,
          Getting a paycheck for doing your job is not panhandling, nor is that trickle-down economics, that's called employment. And without those employees the "wealthy" person's business wouldn't doing anything, so there is mutual benefit. read the phrase, the trickle-down is an allusion to the excess wealth falling down from the top tiers, not from the basic principle of a worker being paid for work.

          Wealth distribution would be actively reaching into the wealthy person's bank acount, pulling out chucks of it, adn distributing it to parties who needed the money (whether or not they necessarily "earned" it). INcreasing your workers wages because you are prospering and their hard work helped get you there is not socialism, it's just good Capitalism.

          December 3, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  8. claudia deprez

    I am thrilled that the Pope is tackling the single most important issue of our time... trickle down economics never worked except for those at the top... pretending otherwise is a lie.. It is about time leaders of Faith, speak out and call on their people to follow the teachings of Christ, not just mouth the words, but live them... I know more non Catholics that are thinking of converting than I have heard ever.... If you are claiming Christianity as your faith then walk the talk... You cut food stamps??? but give tax breaks , really?/ your credibility is gone ! I pray for you ! and Rush , he needs help.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • askal

      Walk the talk? Tell that to the Catholic bishops and priests who are living in luxury like kings and abusing children. Converting? Catholics are losing big membership due to false teaching, bad doctrine, and idolatry.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • John Cillis

      I only read the headline. While I respect Rush's right to speak his mind (without people like him, we would be like other totalitarian governments that don't tolerate dissent), I am with the Pope and the church in their efforts to reach out to the world. The Catholic faith is one of the few brands of Christianity that has tried to reach out to other faiths under the thought that our entire world was saved by a Savior 2000 years ago. They focus less on "end times" and focus more on helping the world as it stands, although many faiths do the same. The Christian faith and the other faiths that believe in a loving, peaceful God (including much of the Islamic world) have reached out into our communities to help people–helping first and preaching God's love by example. If that's called Marxism, fine. Or if it works thru Capitalism, fine as well. I think the best example is to look at the social democracies that exist in some countries where help is extended further, and people seem to be happier. Wealth is more spread out–yes, thru heavy taxation. But isn't taxation the same as giving to a house of faith? Think about it, and I think you'll understand what many churches are trying to say. Slowly fading away are the days of the chants of "Onward Christian Soldiers" and they are being replaced by chants of "My sweet Lord", in remembrance of the minstrels of our generation, like the Beatles, who pushed forth a message of peace and hope thru song. If you go to a Catholic Church in Latin America, where the Pope is from, you'll find that message. I met my spouse in Latin America and I was introduced to a church I had never known before–a happy, festive place where people gathered to share family. Give the Pope a chance in his efforts to change the distribution of wealth in this world, I think he is a blessing from above.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  9. Paul Price

    Limbaugh has declared Pope Francis a Marxist....surprised he did not call him a Kenyan, communist, fascist, illegal foreigner!

    If you have been standing in the crowd watching Rush Limbaugh and his racist, misogynist, red necked, ignorant, extremist, and you haven't been offended enough to say anything to this point, you are too darned disconnected from what is going on in this country to say anything now. Best you just sit at home on election day, and watch Barney cartoons some more.

    You guys need to turn off FOX news....you will be better educated if you watch no news at all rather than watching FOX

    December 3, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Doug

      Quite so.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:37 am |
      • TXLady

        just tell then how is any of what he said wrong? and you are just proving his point by making that comment

        December 3, 2013 at 10:40 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Look up what Marxism is and compare that to what the Pope said.

          December 3, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  10. Erasmus

    Acts 3:6 " Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; ..........."

    I would like to see the Vatican say this with a straight face! Cathedrals, Cathedrals, Gold, Gold, Priceless art, Priceless art in the midst of the poorest areas. Whats worse Capitalism or Hyprocrisy?

    December 3, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Doug

      Perhaps they are in many ways synonymous?

      December 3, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • TXLady

      sure. I guess you missed the part where this pope is trying to CHANGE the church?

      December 3, 2013 at 10:42 am |
      • Erasmus

        Its like eating pork chops, steaks, donuts every day, while jogging everyday? Healthy? REFORM, really? What are they gone to downsize, sell the vaitican, jewels, redistribute all the gold and priceless art? I mean come on, makes a rich televangelists look like a pauper (yet the IRS won't leave them alone).

        December 3, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    FOX News and Rush Limbaugh ... the cancer that will eventually kill or disable America.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  12. MKinSoCal

    I think Rush is upset because the Pope is repudiating the economic policies of one of his idols – Ronald Reagan.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Or as I like to call him, Saint Ronnie of Gipper, patron of afternoon naps and plausible deniability.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • skytag

      The economic devastation from which we're recovering refutes Reagan's economic policies.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • sonny chapman

      A man cannot serve two masters. Jesus or Reagan. Mammon or God.Matthew 6,24.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  13. Andrew

    It's time to flush Rush down the toliet with all the other dirt and flith he represents. I'm not even a religious person I see this as ridiculous and a bad move on Rush's pathetic playbook of nonsense. He must have never read the bible or attended church in his life. Money has corrupted him just like politicans, bankers, wall street and many many other individuals in the world. Jesus would never be in favor of Capitalism.. since it puts money as god and ethics as an after thought. Its okay to strive to accomplish great things and desire to bring happiness to your family and beyond.. but when your want for high profits start to dwarf 99% of the remaining individuals own wealth.. your going to become the devil.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • skytag

      Properly regulated capitalism is a very positive thing for all people. When it's not properly regulated, and particularly when it's allowed to regulate itself as it largely has been here for decades, the results are not pretty.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  14. Juergen

    At Thanksgiving dinner with extended family, I was shocked to hear how many folks listen to Limbaugh and Beck. I managed to bite my tongue.

    The more I listened, the more it occurred to me that we have a serious issue in the US with mental health. Darned shame.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  15. Truth

    Limbaugh has never said anything that was worth listening to. Only an idiot cares what he thinks.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • skytag

      And not even most of those. Rush's fans are people who hate the people he targets. He validates their hatred and attacks the people he's brainwashed them to hate.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:31 am |
  16. Amy

    For someone who hasn't been elected, Rush has a direct line and the ear to some of the most powerful men in the country. He writes his talking points and faxes them off daily to many holding an elected office. Politicians parrot his clever copy day in and day out and help put words into the mouths of mostly inarticulate players. He schemes and plots and plays chess, with you and I the pawns. He has helped paint our enemies with a big brush of hate and successfully helped lots of Americans to open their eyes to see how ugly and stupid their neighbors are.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  17. Parakletos

    This pope had better hire a few food and drink testers. Those Dominicans are having a tizzy.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  18. WillB

    In the Church of Rush, there are only 2 things of importance: (1) $$$, and (2) the idiots who give it to him.

    December 3, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • skytag

      So true. He's just a political celebrity who has to rely on keeping his audience in a perpetual state of outrage so they won't realize he's just hate-mongering rabble rouser, coward, and bully.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  19. Heywood_Jablowme

    The Catholic Church is at the pinnacle of capitalism. They are the richest organization on earth, leveraging and wielding its authority and wealth to influence policy all around the globe. Hello pot, meet kettle...

    December 3, 2013 at 10:19 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.