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. Melissa S.

    "...somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," Yes, and that somebody is GOD.

    December 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Quest ion

      What do you mean by that?

      Are you saying that God wrote this article?

      December 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • Susan StoHelit

        That the Pope's statements reflect the Bible and Jesus's words, so if anyone 'got to' the pope, it'd be god.

        December 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
        • Quest ion

          How can that be?

          Have you read the Bible?

          How well do you know the Bible?

          Are you deliberately ignoring what the Bible says?

          December 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  2. Rynomite

    If Xtians actually followed their mythological Jebus' preachings, they would all be socialists. Instead they cherry pick their "good" book in order to support whatever current bigotry they are espousing.

    December 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  3. Agnostickids

    CNN, you are reaching to your LOWEST depths by putting an article about rush limp on your site. Seriously, looking at your entire site, all I see are toxic articles provoking toxic comments.

    People, try NPR, ABC or even BBC, but leave CNN to its own toxic squandering. The people running it must be so miserable that they need to see people fight like a bunch of rabid dogs over their articles.

    Sickening and pathetic.

    December 5, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Thinker...

      But people fighting causes lots of refreshes and therefore lots oh hits. CNN is making money this way so they will continue to do it.

      December 5, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Much like the Pope – whether you believe him or not, enough people do that it is relevant to report on what he says.

      December 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  4. Peter

    Who cares what Lumbergh thinks?

    December 5, 2013 at 8:56 am |

    OXY Rush should've been fired after the Sandra Fluke comment.

    December 5, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • Sara(swati)

      "[Fluke] essentially says that she must be paid to have se.x—what does that make her? It makes her a slu.t, right? It makes her a prosti.tute. She wants to be paid to have se.x. She's having so much se.x she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have se.x."

      Limbaugh, on Fluke's argument that insurers should carry birth control. Ignorant as well as disgusting, considering birth control actual saves insurers and taxpayers money.

      December 5, 2013 at 7:02 am |

    Rush Limbaugh is a drug addict. He should've been fired after the Sandra Fluke comment. The Guns Over People tea potty domestic terrorists are already defending him.

    December 5, 2013 at 6:11 am |
  7. Daffy

    Say what you will, but Rush Limbaugh still has the lead in the Porky Pig Lookalike Contest the Republicans are running. And he has been facing tough competition from Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, amongst others.

    December 4, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • taxonomist

      Be kind now to our fellow animals. As someone pointed out yesterday, Rush has recently been classified as follows:

      Kingdom: Animalia
      Phylum: Chordata
      Subphylum: Vertebrata
      Class: Mammalia
      Order: Rodentia
      Species: Muertus Flatulencitus

      Since this has been known, some zoos that have capybaras have now edited their info placards indicating the South American rodents are no longer the largest and heaviest rodents in the world. Rove and Cheney are undoubtedly within the same species as Rush.

      December 4, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
  8. Angela

    What's wrong with the Marx brothers?
    I think they are funny.

    December 4, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  9. Maddy

    Are you related to lol??
    That one doesn't know what Marxism is, either.

    December 4, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Maddy

      Meant for L.

      December 4, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  10. Observer

    Jesus was too much of a liberal for Limbaugh to like.

    December 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      or too poor.

      December 4, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  11. Gugliemus

    Agreed that the Pope is not a Marxist; that capitalism is an economic system that often brings in its wake serious inequalities; and that it is one of the roles of the Church to point out those inequalities when they result in human impoverishment and suffering. It is also the case that the Pope is not an economist or a political scientist, but a religious leader, whose standards for human behavior are grounded in Christian teaching, an old tradition not usually discussed at length in the work of most contemporary political or economic thinkers. But it must also be said that capitalism, its excesses notwithstanding, remains the only economic system that actually works to produce wealth and to make that wealth available to members of society. Other systems have been tried, notably the one that collapsed in the late twentieth century in the former Soviet Union and its client states. There is also a somewhat different version of socialism now on display in various countries of Latin America—e.g., Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Argentina. In Venezuela, there are reports that the country is running out of toilet paper, but presumably the last few squares will be shared equally by all in the name of social justice. So while it may be that socialism is the best way to reach the promised land of perfect equality, it is often an equality of the lowest common denominator and of a misery shared by all. We should all listen to Francis; but we should also avoid letting the trees obscure the forest.

    December 4, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      "But it must also be said that capitalism, its excesses notwithstanding, remains the only economic system that actually works to produce wealth and to make that wealth available to members of society. Other systems have been tried, notably the one that collapsed in the late twentieth century in the former Soviet Union and its client states."

      You may be right, though I would disagree that Socialism ever got a fair shake as the countries who have implemented it have allowed corruption and the exemption of certain classes, which has been the root cause of it's failure. Capitalism, though a system which does show to work, when properly managed, is inherently unfair between the classes as it does not allow for much real movement... if you were born wealthy you are likely to remain wealthy, if born poor.... the same. What the current problem is, and what Pope Francis speaks of, is the 'trickle down' tax code, whereas the graduation of the taxes as one rises in income was severly slashed for the wealthy (under Reagan), and then slashed again under bush II. Now the call by one party is to continue to slash taxes for the wealthy, cutting deeper into the fabric of social porgrams designed to help the most poor and downtrodden. The tax cuts will do nothing for the economy and the only thing it will help ido is ncrease the already bloated portfolios of the most wealthy among us.
      I for one am very glad the Pope has spoken about this and I hope Catholics listen and take heed. Though not a religious man myself, I do hear this message and it is the same message I took from the teaching of Christ when I was younger, but which I abandoned, in part, due to the obvious hypocracy of the professed faithful who did NOT practice the teachings, rather they sought to increase their own stature in life at the cost of these values and lessons they only pretended to adhere to on Sundays (and sometimes Wednesday night).
      Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air.
      rush limbaugh is a self serving blast of hot air.

      December 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
      • Sum Dude

        ... and "Socialism (ne Communism) never had a fair chance" is stale air, polluted with the farts of a million self-serving progressives who are inherently unable to control human behavior – including their own.

        December 4, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
        • Sum Orger Dude

          Whereas conservatives are taking us back to the era of the robber barons and reduced civil rights by trying to reintroduce modern slavery to corporate overlords unable to control their rampant greed in their quest to make us a third world nation.

          December 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
        • Sum Dude

          Better than "progressivism" taking us back to the era of what's good for the state by camouflaging slavery with a false sense of civil rights... Guess what. Those "overlords unable to control their rampant greed" are the ones that built this country -out- of third-world nation status. There's only one defining difference between the times of Getty and Carnegie, et. al, and the present.

          China and the slave labor of their oppressor government and the American government's tolerance to offshore American manufacturing to them in exchange for them "loaning us" money....

          The debt service of our American government's megalomaniacal spending is a burden carried almost uniquely on the the backs of Chinese slave labor. So, go sell the efficacy of "socialism" to the slaves of Communist China, the impoverished millions of the "Democratic" Peoples' Republic of Korea and the poor basterds in Russia who can't buy groceries or toilet paper without paying the vig to the Russian organized crime mobs.

          Socialism only "works" by enslaving the citizenry, but then it ceases to be socialism, doesn't it?

          December 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
        • Walter Johnson

          "Sum Orger Dude
          Whereas conservatives are taking us back to the era of the robber barons and reduced civil rights by trying to reintroduce modern slavery to corporate overlords unable to control their rampant greed in their quest to make us a third world nation."

          That would be counter reformation in real world understanding.

          December 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Ed

      Pope Francis appears to be a social democrat who advocates a mixed economy of social welfare and capitalism; a type of progressive social reform of capitalism. This allows the economic benefits of capitalism while protecting the poor and other economically vulnerable: children, disabled, etc. This does not exactly align with Catholic teachings of subsidiarity and distributism, which favor a more grassroots approach to social issues instead of big government.

      December 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
      • Walter Johnson

        Francis, a social democrat? What? When is the last time you saw any Roman Catholic vote for anything in the church,other than for a new pope? The mass of the parishioners never get to vote for anything, only the hierarchy. Wake up please.

        December 8, 2013 at 3:40 am |
  12. jj

    If I had to choose between the Pope and Rush Lameblah I would choose the Pope.

    December 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  13. Harold Goodman

    Limbaugh would attack Jesus. And just think, Ted Cruz reported to Rush right after he finished his 21 hour filibuster. So much for the Catholic vote

    December 4, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Ben Bollman

      I am not sure but that may be the dumbest argument I've heard for anything.

      December 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  14. Live4Him

    @ME II : Wouldn't Jesus' statement about 'render unto Caesar that which is Caesars" support Socialism

    It would support government, yes, but not necessarily a specific form of government.

    December 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Well no.
      It supported an occupying foreign imperial dictatorship, and disenfranchised the notion of an authentic Jewish state.
      Don't try to rewrite history.

      December 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
      • Sum Dude

        It was about differentiating secular tribute (to Cæsar) from sacred faith to God – nothing more, nothing less.

        Mark 12: 13-17
        13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Hero'dians, to catch him in his words.
        14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man; for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
        15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
        16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar's.
        17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marveled at him.

        Rodentia is either propagandizing or suffering from his own special form of dementia.

        December 4, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
        • Rodents for Romney

          Actually it was made up to make the Jews more placid.
          The gospels were entirely cooked up. There most like was no apocalyptic preacher named Yeshua ben Josef, (Jesus).
          Dr. Richard Carrier has proven that. The political situaltion was the Jews were occupied, and always causing trouble. ANy way to make that stop, (including cooking up a new cult called Christianity) would have been used by Rome. They invented Jesus. Philo of Alexandria, (BEFORE jesus would have been born) was preaching about a dying and rising messiah named Jesus. There is NO way to tell the difference between the two, or sort them out.

          December 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
        • Sum Dude

          Dr. Richard Carrier? The avowed atheist who's also into "metaphysical naturalism?"

          Sure 😆

          He's a great "authority" to quote.

          December 4, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
        • Sum Dude

          Let's see you pull another one of those out of your azz, Micky.

          December 4, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
        • Rodents for Romney

          Nice try. Fail. You failed to refute ANYthing in the post. YES. THAT Dr. Carrier. In your little universe one has to be a fundie to know the truth ? How sad.

          December 5, 2013 at 12:11 am |
        • Rodents for Romney

          He has a PhD from Columbia in History.
          Your's is from ?
          Oh that's right. You don't have one.

          December 5, 2013 at 12:14 am |
        • Sum Dude

          A PhD in History.... from Columbia?

          Anyone can get one of those if they contribute enough to the CP-USA.. Pay even more and you can demand that Columbia seal your records forever....

          Let me get this straight – you actually want me to "refute" Carrier's "metaphysical naturalism" or his subjective antisemitism?

          You're a joke.

          December 5, 2013 at 12:33 am |
        • Sum Dude

          btw.. Two Masters. MHSA and & an MPA in Health Policy.

          You know.. "Those who can do, and those who can't teach." Sadly, teaching has become the art of covert liberal indoctrination rather than objective independent thought. My guess is that I'd feel the same about Communistic Metaphysical Naturalistic History professors from an overtly liberal propaganda factory.

          Whatch'a got, punky? Let me guess. You're almost out of community college, getting ready to go to the 'big school.' Never mind. It doesn't matter.

          -You- don't matter – at least not to me. Maybe to your girlfriend. Or not. Most everything on the CNN boards is either liberal propaganda or troll taunt. It's why I left years ago. I only come back every couple of months to bltch-slap a couple of you commie punksters.

          December 5, 2013 at 12:47 am |
        • Lisa

          Sum Dude
          Are you discrediting him just because he's an atheist?

          December 5, 2013 at 1:10 am |
        • Sum Dude

          No, Lisa, I'm discrediting him because he's:

          1. Proffering antisemitic propaganda (Mark 12:17 "supports an occupying foreign imperial dictatorship, and disenfranchised the notion of an authentic Jewish state.") to support a wholly-unrelated biblical passage,

          2. He continues to blather "Actually it was made up to make the Jews more placid." (More antisemitism, in case you don't recognize it..) and then attempts to "close" his argument with his own omniscience that " The gospels were entirely cooked up. There most like was no apocalyptic preacher named Yeshua ben Josef, (Jesus)."

          So, Lisa, at this point I'm thinking (correctly) that Mickey is just another arrogant, atheistic-progressive snot-nose propagandist. Tell us, Lisa, why does atheism go hand-in hand with socialism? Do you know, Lisa? How about a guess for us... Hint.. The two are related through much history outside of America.

          But I digress..

          3. Now this putz claims that the liberal apologist, atheist and and anti-Semite Richard Carrier is the ultimate authority on all things gospel, Jesus, and Jew. This is, of course, entertainingly laughable, unless you take Carrier seriously. Personally, I tend to dismiss the metaphysical. You know.. If I can't see it, I really have a hard time believing it. For an atheist to practice "metaphysical" anything is nothing short of hypocrisy – and I, for one, believe that discredits him as an "authority" on anything, embarrassing any of their advocates in the process. If they don't realize it, it's even funnier. Mickey's a hoot.

          So, Lisa, I'm discrediting Mickey as a fool who follows fools, not as an atheist. FYI, I have no particular problem with militant atheism, as I know it is nothing more than an organized attempt to influence away biblical morality. Devil that you know, and all. True atheists don't give a crap what anyone else believes, (no do I for that matter.) Politicized atheism is a different matter.

          The militant atheist will argue "We shouldn't have the bible forced on us !!! Separation of Church from State !!!!" ... and they'll behave like Dracula if the cross is shown to them... They'll feign offense and fight like a marlin being boated at the thought of -any- even remotely-faith-based societal mores being applied to them against their "collective" will.

          Research what Marx and Lenin believed about religion, Lisa. Research why religion is outlawed in communist countries.

          December 5, 2013 at 2:04 am |
        • Ernest T Bass

          @dum dude "I have no particular problem with militant atheism, as I know it is nothing more than an organized attempt to influence away biblical morality. Devil that you know, and all."

          Pretty good at the lying game there dum dude?. either that or you're just plain stupid, I'm going with the latter. What you "know" about atheism is wrong. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in god or gods, not an organized ANYTHING. "Biblical morality"? That's funny......

          December 5, 2013 at 8:15 am |
        • Frank

          I stumbled on this story with over 6,000 comments and was curious. The SumDude is on target. What's really odd is that somebody naming themselves after the all-time stupidist character on a 60's TV show about southern rubes is trying to insult him. Wow. How completely ignorant. What a schwantz.

          December 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
        • Dr. Richard Carrier

          I think Sum Dude just got punked here into showing they don't check their facts. I have never said or argued in favor of "an occupying foreign imperial dictatorship, and disenfranchis[ing] the notion of an authentic Jewish state" or that Jesus "was made up to make the Jews more placid." The latter claim is confusing me with Joseph Atwill, who is actually my opponent, so this is amusingly crediting me with an argument I have publicly refuted (!). The former claim is unintelligible to me, and in any event is not a quote of anything I have ever said. But simply because someone claimed I said these things, it was assumed I actually did. Maybe some day "check your facts" will be something our schools teach our children?

          December 9, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • lol??

      Bass, you have a simple sense of humour. I "know": that and it's twue of other pwogwessives.

      December 5, 2013 at 8:27 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.