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. Bob Bobson


    Matthew 25 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    December 3, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Responding to the Pride

      Bob...labeling Jesus a socialist is akin to labeling him a republican...he is neither a socialist nor a capitalist, democrat or republican. He is the son of God–nothing less.

      To your point, however, you shouldn't confuse charity (which is what Jesus is preaching) to state mandated policies of wealth distribution. I would argue that the later is basically a way of delegating our responsibilities to the poor–i.e. hey, I pay my taxes, my taxes support the poor, I have no need to further support the poor–a truly frightening paradigm.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        There is no evidence that Jesus was the son of a god, but those words are attributed to him and are the basic tenets of christian religion. Nothing in the bible promotes the greed of today's capitalism.

        December 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • Responding to the Pride

          "the greed of today's capitalism." I don't think you help your argument by personifying an economic system. Some (too many) capitalists are greedy–no doubt. Many capitalists (too few) are not. It doesn't change my basic argument: Christ argued for charity–don't add or take away from his words by equating it to a government sponsored economic strategy.

          December 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  2. Thom

    Only when we recognize that Rush is in the business of selling air time to sponsors selling to us what is killing us, do his words make sense. Poor man has to make up whatever he thinks will whip his ignorant followers into a froth, and tune in next time.
    This pope will likely keep the church from sliding further downhill, only if he can avoid assassination by the same folks who killed Jesus. (the church).
    His message should always conflict with the greedy, the dishonest, the proud, the blind. Hence Rush and Sarah's disapproval.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  3. Bob Bobson


    Luke 3:11. "Let the man with two tunics share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise."

    December 3, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  4. jr

    Hopefully, Rush will not be intimidated by the child abusers and back down from his observation of this anti capitalist NWO socialist lib like Sarah did.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • John Adams

      Hopefully he'll be left without a radio show as his sponsors leave him in droves. As they should, unless they sponsor hate.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:34 am |
      • igaftr

        Why would the sponsors leave? Look at the 156 pages of comments here.
        Do you think Snapple cares that they have been sponsering the King of all sleazia for all these years? It makes them money.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:51 am |
        • Maddy

          True. Greed over pride of product and message. They'll stay. Although Fluke did cause some blowback.

          December 3, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  5. ann

    The Pope is preaching Christianity and the Bible. Nothing more...nothing less. Signed, "A Liberal"

    December 3, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  6. Bob Bobson


    Luke 4:18 – The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • ME II

      Jesus believed in faith healing. Who needs medicine when you have that?

      December 3, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  7. Bob Bobson


    Luke 14:13 – But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

    December 3, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  8. Nick

    Many have attempted to characterize Jesus as a socialist but I think that's an over-simplification. Jesus was preaching individual charity, not government redistribution. Jesus recognized the corruption in government, so it's unlikely he would choose that as a method of helping the poor (as we can see from efforts by our own corrupt government – e.g., the Washington Times reports that the State Department spent about $180,000 on alcohol in September and $400,000 in all of 2012 – three times the $118,000 spent in 2008).

    December 3, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • JC

      The Pope said that trickle down economics don't work. BECAUSE THEY DON'T. We are witnessing that today. People said 30 years ago it would cause great wealth disparity, AND IT HAS! Despite all if the advantages, "job creators" have SAT on their wealth. And THEY DEMAND MORE ADVANTAGES.

      Job creators my eye. If you're talking about all the jobs sent overseas, well sure. Otherwise NO.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Yes, but you skipped the context. It was standard expenditure on hospitality just brought forward to avoid the tea party orchestrated shutdown of the government.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:55 am |
      • Maddy

        I wonder how much was delivered to Boehner personally?

        Congress is working 5 days this month. Must be nice.

        December 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Dub

      Proverbs 29:7:
      The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

      "Justice for the poor". This is not a mandate for "individual charity", it is about everyone as individuals, families, communities, and nation-states. Anything else is just weaseling out of a commitment to fellow human beings.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Dub : "Justice for the poor". This is not a mandate for "individual charity",

        It is certainly not a mandate for government control of charity.

        December 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • JC

          Is that what you think the Pope is doing? I don't.
          I don't think the IGMFY philosophy is what Proverbs intended.

          December 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @JC : Is that what you think the Pope is doing? I don't

          Why not?

          December 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  9. ThomasR

    If you don't sow, you will still reap.

    Jesus Christ:
    As you sow, sow shall you reap

    As you sow, sow shall you reap

    December 3, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX


      December 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Thom

      You and your friends are convincing each other that capitalism and what we have today are the same thing. Your wrong.
      What we have today is:
      Spend money to elect those that will make us more money, send money out of country to avoid taxes, scream "we need jobs" as we send overseas all the jobs, scream 'Socialist" as we ask for corporate welfare after we rob $billions from homebuyers.
      Spend money to elect those that reduce inspections, oversight, regulation, accountability and honor. Just make more money, to hell with anyone in the way!
      That's what we are calling capitalism. And the pope recognizes the evil in it.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  10. Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

    "Pope preaches Marxism." Sounds exactly like something one would expect a narcissistic recovering drug addict to say.

    Sad. Unbelievable. But then most drug addicts such as Limbaugh usually are. I sincerely hope that he is still receiving the treatment that he so desperately needs.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  11. Barry G

    Jesus said whether a person goes to Heaven or Hell will depend upon whether they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and visited those who are sick and in prison. (The Gospel According to Matthew)

    Jesus also said: "Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your reward...But blessed are you who are poor, for your's is the Kingdom of God." (The Gospel According to Luke)

    December 3, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

      Yep. Sounds like pure Marxism! X-D

      December 3, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • doobzz

      I thought whether you go to heaven depended solely on accepting Jesus as your lord and savior, the one who took your place on the cross, who died for your sins, not on works.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  12. Gary J Spanedda

    Mr. Limbaugh is a JUNKIE DRUG ADDICT that belongs in prison!

    It's also time for the news to stop reporting on STUPIDITY. ie: Limbaugh, Palin, Cheney and the like...

    December 3, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • ME II

      Yet, that doesn't mean that he is wrong... or right. Try an actual argument.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  13. Bob Bobson

    Jesus Was A Socialist

    “Just as you did – or did not do – to the least of these, you did – or failed to do – for me” (Matthew 25:31-46)

    December 3, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Oh my god, they killed Kenny! Those bastards!

      December 3, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  14. david mann

    Let's see now...who am I going to listen to? The Pope or Rush Limpbow? Gee...that's a tough one. The "Holiest Man On Earth", or a morbidly obese, lying, misogynistic Right-wing nut who worships money above all else. Have to give this some thought.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • ME II

      "Holiest Man On Earth" seems like a bit much, even for Rush.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • doobzz

      The "holiest man on earth" is still protecting pedophiles. While drug abuse is illegal and harmful, I'd say that using prescription drugs to excess is less damaging to others than quietly transferring child rapsits to new parishes to abuse again.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  15. ThomasR

    Conservative Capitalists give 30% more to charity than Liberals and do not think that Jesus was a Socialist.
    Giving to the poor is good and Capitalism is good.

    God's commandment against Socialism: Thou shall not steal.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Your supporting evidence?

      December 3, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • John Adams

      And the RCC,and by extension, the Catholics, donate more than that your 30%.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • aCriticalEye

      aaaah, finally one of the Tea Clowns speaks. Money is your god, and Rush is his prophet.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  16. ImvotingforHillary

    In the end who does Rush and his ilk think God will be more pleased with?

    December 3, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Science Works

      The pope, Rush are they playing with a full deck ?

      Human Stem Cells Converted to Functional Lung Cells

      Dec. 1, 2013 — For the first time, scientists have succeeded in transforming human stem cells into functional lung and airway cells.


      December 3, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • smitvict

      God would NOT be pleased with those who expect others to do for them . The apostiles went out and caught fish, they didn't stand around waiting for someone to give them one. That is the difference between democracy / capitalism and marxism.

      December 3, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • John Adams

        The Pope isn't a Marxist. Get a clue.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:29 am |
      • tallulah13

        Of course, Jesus never heard about those political systems. All he did was tell people who have to help those who have not. The rest is simply a rationalization that allows you to be as selfish as possible while still believing that you deserve to go to heaven. If you god is reaI I wonder what he will say to those of you who spin his words from what was said into what you want to hear?

        December 3, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        You can have democracy without capitalism.

        December 3, 2013 at 11:35 am |
      • doobzz

        According to the bible, not all of the apostles were fishermen, and those that were were fishermen before they met Jesus. Jesus saw Peter, Andrew, James and John fishing, and told them to leave their nets and follow him, which they did.

        December 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • Rationalintn

        So why did Jesus turn a few fish and loaves of bread into enough food to feed a few thousand people,who came to listen to him? Why didn't he just tell all those moochers to go catch their own fish? Was it because he bothered to care about people who were hungry? It takes a very angry person to demonize the poor and the hungry. Even if there is no god in the end, I will be content and happy, knowing that I helped others. Jesus is that hungry child or poor,elderly person at a food bank– how you treat those people says more about you, than how they arrived at that place.

        December 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  17. E

    In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.

    -Fran Lebowitz

    December 3, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  18. E

    Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.

    -John Maynard Keynes

    December 3, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  19. ThomasR

    Unfettered Capitalism:
    "As you sow, so shall you reap."

    December 3, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • aCriticalEye

      May I remind you, GREED is NOT good. It happens to be one of the seven deadly sins.
      Every post you have made today speaks of your love of money, unwillinness to share, and inability to show compassion for your fellow human. I'm very glad I dont know you.

      December 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  20. david mann

    Rush says "I'm not a Catholic". Of course he's not. You can't spew hatred 3 hours a day for years and be anybody who actually believes in Christianity. He's a "Lucreite". His only god is money.

    December 3, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • 2 Km N of GZero

      "Lucreite" - an excellent new word!

      December 3, 2013 at 11:20 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.