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. Klash

    I think Rush Limpnuts prefers the hot climate where he's going anyway.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  2. Terry

    If people would just ignore Rush, quit giving him fuel, maybe his drug induced rants and raves will end his "capitalistic" financial gains. His rants are for the money................nothing more.
    And, as a Catholic...............Thank God we have a Pope like Francis.....

    December 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  3. knowmw

    The Pope's remark is based on a quote by Jesus, not Karl. "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24 – Hence, the comments are christian, not marxist.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  4. Pensimmon

    Yep, Limbaugh is a bottom feeder alright. If he wasn't so vile, we could treat him as a huge joke.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  5. walt huhn

    I concur with Rush Limbaugh on his thoughts about modern capitalism. This great country America has a been a bastion
    for freedom for successful hardworking people to enjoy the fruits of their labor. There is no where else that offers what
    America has. Finally America is the most generous nation on this earth and that is a direct reflection of the hard working
    people who make capitalism work.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Vic

      Right on!

      December 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Arthur

      " This great country America has a been a bastion for freedom for successful hardworking people to enjoy the fruits of their labor"

      The key words in your statement are "has been". Nothing wrong with pointing out that we're taking a cultural and economic nosedive now.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  6. Choose Carefully

    What an endorsement! If Rash Limburger hates you, then you are on the right track. I like Pope Francis. He is a breath of fresh air in the Vatican.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  7. JohnChristian in Michigan

    I can promise you this--I will boycott every advertiser of Rush Dumball and FOX....

    boycott every advertise

    boycott every advertise

    boycott every advertise

    boycott every advertise

    December 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Well someone who listens to the show will have to list them, otherwise how will you know who to boycott?

      December 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
      • middle america man

        Oh, there are people keeping track of that, you don't even have to listen once to find out. This is going to cost the idiot radio networks who carry the pig a bundle.

        December 3, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  8. Vic

    I've seen a lot of comments here mischaracterizing Capitalism and Socialism when it comes to charity, let alone altogether.

    Just so you know, Capitalism does not in anyway or fashion prevent charity/giving to the poor, on the contrary, it promote it. Capitalism promotes private ownership of capital and eating the fruits of own labor while giving to the poor at "free will." That is exactly what Jesus Christ and Christians did/do. Capitalism creates opportunities for individuals to work and earn a living, who in turn, choose to help the poor as per needed. (Now, corruption can happen in the application.)

    On the contrary, Socialism promotes state ownership of capital and leveling the playing field by forcing individuals to pay higher taxes, from which the poor is paid, which in turn, kills opportunities and guarantees poverty for the poor.

    One of the primary precepts of Marxism is to suppress Capitalism by Communism, which is a form of Socialism.

    December 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Vic

      "..,on the contrary, it promotes it."

      December 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • What we actually have...

      Corporate capitalism is a free or mixed-market economy characterized by the dominance of hierarchical, bureaucratic corporations. State-monopoly capitalism was originally a Marxist concept referring to a form of corporate capitalism in which state policy is utilized to benefit and promote the interests of dominant or established corporations by shielding them from competltive pressures or by providing them with subsidies

      December 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
      • Vic

        The United States has the system of checks and balances; just like there is lobbying, there is anti-trust lawsuits that prevent monopoly.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
        • Checks & Balances...

          Right, the checks get sent to the wealthy so they can maintain their balances...

          December 3, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • middle america man

          Hmmm, they're doing such a fine job of managing things lately, too. Face it, practically all over the world right now, it resembles the type of conditions that usually lead to world wars, or things like the French Revolution. I think the movers and shakers had best wise up, because there won't be anywhere to hide if it gets bad.

          December 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Dee Jude

      Unregulated capitalism and pure socialism are two of the same evils. Pure socialism is a direct offspring of unregulated capitalism.

      Do you think someone who makes a product and becomes a billionaire will not lobby the political system and make it extremely hard for someone like you and me to succeed using capitalism. It creates hierarchy where the rich live like kings and we are all puppets who can be replaced and do no matter.

      Anyone can be taught and learn anything. Inheritance on the other hand, is a form a luck that is not based on how great you are, but how great your parents were.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
      • Vic

        I just noted this above:

        "The United States has the system of checks and balances; just like there is lobbying, there is anti-trust lawsuits that prevent monopoly."

        And in the root post, I noted:

        "(Now, corruption can happen in the application.)"

        December 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
      • ME II

        I suspect that you misunderstand socialism, as it is identified as "social" ownership of the means of production. Generally that means the state, but can be other societal groups. Capitalism, on the other hand is private ownership, which would allow inheritance.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
        • Vic

          In short and precise terms:

          Capitalism is an economic system that is based on the private ownership of capital;

          Socialism is an economic system based on the state ownership of capital AND industry.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
        • Vic

          In short and precise terms:

          Capitalism is an economic system that is based on the private ownership of capital;

          Socialism is an economic system based on the state ownership of capital AND industry.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
        • Vic

          Someone mentioned it precisely yesterday that Russia and China realized their flawed socialist/communist approach and started mixing in Capitalism in the process.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Vic. No you're confusing socialism with communism.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
        • Vic

          Not really. Not a lot of people know that Communism is a form of Socialism, which suppresses private ownership and promotes leveling the playing field.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          There are many socialist programs operated by the US government; European governments generally have a bit more socialism. Few of those have any communists in government and typically as a minority.

          So you advocate "pure" capitalism – no social security, no corporate subsidies, no corporate bailout, no mortgage interest deduction, no help for victims of say Katrina and Sandy, no emergency health care, no public education, no public highways or transportation, no emergency services, etc. There is no one alive in the West who has not benefited from the government.

          December 3, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
        • Checks & Balances...

          "Someone mentioned it precisely yesterday that Russia and China realized their flawed socialist/communist approach and started mixing in Capitalism in the process."

          Yes, they realized they needed a measure of capitalism to maintain healthy economies. So why shouldn't America add a mix of socialism to meantain healthy communities? That is what social security is, a blend of socialism that has been working quite well at keepig our elderly from falling through the cracks in society and ending up homeless. So a country that understands that it can glean the benefits of some policies without taking in all the woes of a communist dictatorship would be achieveable, and yet the conservative right seem to think one cent of tax on anything to help children or the poor will instantly turn the country into cold war Russia. The fearmongers and alarmists who profit off the continued unfettered free markets are the only ones who will be hurt by adopting more social programs and guess what, I don't fvcking care about them. I don't give a flying s e x act about whether the advertisers on Fox who want to sell me gold or a reverse mortgage or survival gear and guns go out of business, I know more than enough private enterprises will fill the void. Obamacare is a boon to private industry which will allow private insurers to rake in hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few years and yet still those who havn't read the law claim it's socialism when it is the furthest thing from. It was invented by a republican think tank in the '90s, it was crafted by republicans, it was promoted by republicans against the single payer system democrats wanted and was lobbied for by republicans and the private insurers who want nothing more than to have 30 million new subscribers forced to sign up for their private insurance plans, the one primary thing they had to give for this was to accept those with pre-existing conditions. Now if that doesn't sound like the Stalinesque Obamascare they have been selling over at Fox then I wonder why they havn't been telling you the truth. The only answer I can come up with is they are either really sore losers or they just hate black guys, or maybe just a little of both...

          December 3, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
        • Vic

          Well, not exactly either. There are many things that are within the function and capacity of the government to provide for as national security or public service, like defense, transportation, public education (for standardization,) disaster fund, etc., that are paid for by the tax revenue as a maximum.

          On the other hand, I believe Social Security is better off privatized as well as healthcare.

          December 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
        • Vic

          One reply up.

          December 3, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
        • Vic

          Posted the following as a root post on page 160 by accident:

          It is easy to mix up the political term Socialism and the social aspect of things, as well as error/corruption in the application with the concept itself. Capitalism is full of social aspects,which by the way originated in Natural Revelation and Christianity, but it is based on private ownership and not state, hence NOT Socialism.

          In the meantime, I am not discussing politics here, I am discussing mechanisms. Politics can lead right commencements into erroneous finishes if not dead ends. Also, Some of what you described is not really about Republicans hating blacks, it is really about Republicans hating the social mechanisms that guarantees poverty for the poor and/or less fortunate, which minorities, in general, fall victims to.

          December 3, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
        • Vic

          "..social mechanisms that guarantee poverty for.."

          December 3, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
        • ME II

          I just wanted to clarify that my comment was directed at Dee, not you.

          "Pure socialism is a direct offspring of unregulated capitalism." – Dee

          December 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  9. Gordon Hilgers

    The Pope is Marxist? I think the more accurate statement is that Rush Limbaugh is a Barksist!

    Bow wow, El Rushbo....

    December 3, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  10. ROB FORD

    Cocaine anyone???

    December 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  11. sirhuxley

    How 'bout this one?

    “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.”

    Really? Faux Niuws has been putting Catholic "Pastor/Hucksters" on the news to influence votes since forever.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  12. sirhuxley

    Meanwhile, Rush is preaching PURE Corporatism!

    Of course, he contractually obligated to "do as he is told" by his sponsors who include but are not limited to..

    (1) The Oil Lobby
    (2) Wall Street

    These are his sponsors...

    December 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  13. voiceinthewind

    I can't believe anyone with a brain tunes into this narrow minded fool who makes statements just to be negative and raise controversy because no one with a brain could ever really think that what he is saying is something he really means. Rush is certifiably a nut case.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  14. Anna


    December 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Big Papi

      I went to Coldplay concert... It was awesome!

      December 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  15. JW

    Does God as our creator or maker, obligate people to follow what he teaches?

    No. Rather, as a loving Benefactor, he warmly appeals to us: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:17, 18)

    We would certainly follow the makers instruction manual if we want to fix or build our car, computer, etc... Benefits will come by following the instructions that our maker, God has for us, but it's up to each one to follow them or not!

    December 3, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Scholar

      Christians follow the teachings of a great Jewish rabbi who practiced what He preached and urged all to do the same.
      It seems clear that Rush is a modern day Joe McCarthy ranting about commies everywhere just to raise his Q – number of listeners, many of whom might be tuning in just as they'd watch a train wreck again and again. He has a certain motivated cognition going, not open to anything new but his own new thoughts about things, much like Ayn Rand who chose to make her own definitions about everything and ignored everyone else since they were all beneath her, much like Rush places everyone in his audience.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  16. gee

    This overweight pill head needs a good bath. He stinks so much I can smell him in the middle of a blizzard.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  17. L

    Is there is no God, what's the point of coming up with your own reason to exist? According to atheist beliefs, we all cease to exist after we die(a belief) so what's the point when nothing we do matters in the end? The "moral" card is what they pull to feel superior but being "moral" won't matter.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  18. Bobeck Ronald

    Really, a 5 time married " side show Barker" DRUG ADDLED, draft DODGING Coward. NEOCONSERVATIVE CHICKEN HAWK WAR-MONGER. Really ? this Good man, the vicar of Christ on Earth needs to be disrespected by this PEG. Rush you know people get HIT by lighting on Golf courses.. Here in Central NC it happens all the time ... I am Not saying , I am just saying.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Amadeo

      Well said.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  19. Ted Ward

    I sometimes wish the Catholic Church would give some respect and credit to the hundreds of millions of successful middle class professionals who have careers, homes, and savings, who raise good loving faithful kids, who pay their sometimes onerous taxes, who pay their mortgages, go to church, give massively to charities of all kinds for the poor, who buy less polluting cars, who recycle, use birth control after a couple children,who travel, learn, do good, volunteer, stay out of trouble, who daily exercise great self discipline and restraint out of love and mindful goodness, and generally make the world work. How about some kudos for all these people? Hmmm? There is not enough money in the world to pull the poor out of poverty. But if more of poor behaved like those I mentioned above, then the poor would soon no longer be poor for very long. Enough of this idolotry of the "poor" as if they are some sainted class. Yes, we need to help them, but first remember where the resources come from to do so, and give them some respect and credit.

    December 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • pat o'brien

      I don't believe the Pope was referring to people who make a decent living and play by the rules, paying taxes, etc. He sees the unadulterated greed that has taken over corporations who hide money in overseas tax havens, and play all kinds of games to ever increase their profit and care nothing for the working middle class much less the poor. He isn't talking to the average person, he is talking to the upper 5-10% in this world who can never seem to have enough because they worship money and will do whatever it takes to get more,more,more.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Dee Jude

      I think you misunderstand his intentions completely, as did Rush. The Church is all for people who help themselves and exhibit self-reliance. However, the middle class citizens you speak of with a couple of million in their bank have pebbles compared to what these big corporations have. They'd like you to believe they keep a fair playing field and are just seeking success and stability like the rest of us, but they are seeking wealth to obtain power and lobby our political systems for them and their families' benefit only. Not to mention, most of these billion dollar corporations were only started because the founders' parents were upper middle class and could afford to finance an above average education, provide safe housing for their future business or idea, or give their kids a loaned financial head start to achieve their dream. The other big companies were simply passed down to the kids through inheritance, such as Walmart, Exxon Mobile, etc. What you, and most of these pro-capitalist people are saying is that kids should be punished because of the decisions their parents made in the past.

      I don't think this is fair, since in reality, most minorities, especially blacks, did not have the full right to capitalism until 1966 with the exception of a few in the entertainment industry. This causes current generation to have a significant lack of inheritances from their families. Poverty can be overcome, but growing up in a violent, drug-infested community with drug dealers and murderers surrounding you, poverty would be the least of your concern.

      If your mother, father or whoever raised you could not afford to house you in a safe, non-drug infested environment growing up, what are the chances you would currently be successful using only capitalism as your path?

      December 3, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Robin Carlisle

      Although I am not catholic, I agree and you have a very good point. Where is the praise for us do gooders?

      December 4, 2013 at 11:55 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.