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. Jack

    Rush "Over the Cliff" Limbaugh is pure B.S. !!!

    December 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  2. Kenneth Wilford

    The man has compassion ,That more than some of the elite of today ,I know the poor are always with us , But in this time of mankind. There should not be.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  3. onealydragon

    Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'
    Oneslydragon: Rush is preaching hate.

    December 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  4. Geo Bruno

    One wonders if Rush knows this parable from Luke

    Luke 16:19-25. "Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs would come and lick his sores.
    Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom.
    And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.'
    But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony...'"

    December 15, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  5. Geo Bruno

    Could someone name one thing that RL and his ilk have in common with JC?

    December 15, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  6. Geo Bruno

    The pope is just repeating what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount and from Acts

    Like this

    All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." -Acts 4:31-35

    December 15, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  7. JF3

    "You think you know more than the pope?"- Michael corleone's bodyguard, the godfather part 3

    December 15, 2013 at 4:41 am |
  8. Gavin

    I find it funny that Rush is too self centered to differentiate between religion and politics. Is he suggesting that the Catholic Church should endorse giving money and power to the rich (trickle down economics)? In words at least the modern church has always pontificated (pun intended) helping the poor directly through charity and service. Is Rush so deluded that he believes that the words of Pope Frank are REALLY that different than the words of previous Popes? Besides the fact that Pope Frank is apparently less judgemental, more inclusive, and has (to his CREDIT) refused many of the trapping of wealth the Vatican offers, how HAS the message truly changed? Talk about delusions of grandeur. Rush even challenges the Pope! What next? Will he start insulting the POTUS??? LOL

    December 15, 2013 at 3:16 am |
    • Ed

      Pope Francis said in an interview that trickle down economics is a fraud because when the cup is full, the cup just gets bigger so nothing trickles down. "The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor.
      But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor."-Pope Francis

      December 16, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • lambsev

      You should educate us to how politics is different than religion...
      James 1:27
      American Standard Version (ASV)
      27 Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

      December 18, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  9. Awakened

    "he started sending a Vatican contingent to Rome to deliver food and charity.."
    Well, its about time Rome star acting Christian-like, and not like the pontificated, filthy rich, capitalistic, idolatry of gold and money (and power), stingy towards the poor, and corrupt organization it's been for millennia... What a joke the church is! It epitomizes the evil (capitalism) Pope Francis speaks about....go figure!!!

    December 15, 2013 at 2:53 am |
    • lambsev

      The Vatican is not considered by many believers as the church. Many believe and say openly it is the Wh_r_ of Babylon.

      December 18, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
  10. Maria O'Connor

    Rush Limbaugh is an ignorant. The pope is preaching the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church. The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, was created, much earlier than marxism.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:56 am |
    • Awakened

      And the church has never followed it's own social doctrine! Rome should start divesting of it's ridiculous wealth...it shoul be ashamed of its flashiness , gold, dressing its Popes likes pimps throughout the ages...what a joke!...and never donating a cent or sending help during natural disasters, or to refugees. It only takes, takes, takes....

      December 15, 2013 at 3:01 am |
    • lambsev

      Created by whom, Maria?

      December 18, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  11. M5

    Thank goodness Rush Limbaugh is NOT Catholic!! With 4 wives in the mix (I'm sure he's still counting) and several drug addictions under his belt to add to his list of accomplishments ~ it's a wonder why people still listen to this guy.

    OH!! That's right ~ he's an entertainer on a paid talk show!! AND we wonder why our insurance is so high! IT's not the people at the bottom ~ it's the ones like Rush who claim rehabilitation.

    December 14, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • lambsev


      December 18, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  12. Lana


    December 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  13. George

    They jokers know it all!!! Religion, Economy, Climate, Finance, Medicine, Security, Foreign Affairs, etc. As long as there are stupid people to listen, these jokers look like genius. Makes 30 million dollars a year to say Pope is a Socialist, is news for so many his followers!!! He is making a fool of himself and his listeners!!!

    December 14, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Uh-Clem

      Today's self-proclaimed conservatives are nothing more than self righteous ungodly demagogues who are not at all interested in working with anyone. Their arrogance is their undoing. And, to be expected as their little piece of America is slowly shrinking and they don't know how to deal with it except lash out at anything that doesn't cower to their bullying tactics. They are not Christians, just posers with a serious case of cognitive dissonance.

      December 14, 2013 at 9:39 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.