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. Randy

    Limbaugh is in need of ratings and to do that must generate noise in the media. His attack on a ver beloved pope not only shows that he is a fool, bu also one that knows nothing of Christianity. Giving to the poor has been a basic tenet since the beginning along with the warning that the love of money (not money itself) is the root of all evil. Rush will be forgiven, but will likely remain a money loving fool.

    December 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • awakelive

      its not the pope who took on Marxism it is Marxism that took over Religion. Anybody who ever read Marx Das Capital know he hated religion and capitalist government, he took over the churches power to care for the poor, healthcare and education and uses it to spend the capitalist government into oblivion, thereby successfully destroying both.

      May 12, 2014 at 9:00 am |
  2. Steven Rudin

    Limbaugh has made millions on his propaganda. He, and the other talk show moguls ,have created a wonderful position for themselves. They don't hold public office. They don't run large corporations. They don't heal the sick, educate the young, or patrol the streets on dark and stormy nights. They are like playground bullies, or hecklers at a concert. They don't produce anything; they just try to tear down those who do.

    December 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Walter Johnson

      I must admit that it's easy to lam blast Limbaugh, but be very careful of whom's servant you become to obey. It's just as easy to be deceived by those with pious words. Make sure to read all of the churches encyclicals so that you understand the "foundation" upon which the latest, Evangelii Gaudium, is building.
      For as Paul states in 2Corinthians 11:10-15 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 19-20 For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.

      December 27, 2013 at 12:35 am |
    • Choose Carefully

      Well Said! I so agree!

      December 28, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  3. Adriana I. Pena

    Limbaugh is not a Catholic so that he does not kinow that the church has several learned scholars who determine who has gotten doctrine right, and who has gotten it wrong. They are "doctors of the Church" and it is to them to decide whether Pope Francis' statemes are within the doctrine. Limbaugh is no "doctor of the Chruch". He is no theologian, he is no Church hsitorian, he is no biblical scholar. His opinion is as valid as one spouted by any drunk in the bar.

    Anyone who knows Churchc history would know that any coindicdence between Marx and catholic dogma is very likely due to Marx' copying what he liked from the doctrine, and forgetting what he did not like. Same as others today, who only pick that which they like, what they agree with and do not look at what they disagree with. Since Church docrtrine is vast, and is the product of the wisdom of centuries, you can always find a nugget that you like. And then tell yourself that that particular nugget is what the doctrine is all about.

    So the question is not "Is that Marxist"? But "Is this right doctrine?" If it isn't then condemn it as such, but if it is, do not worry about imitatorsmdown the line.

    As they say in Spain "doctores tiene la iglesia..." (the church has its doctors), Accept their rulings and do not try tod o their job when yoy don't have the training for it.

    December 25, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
  4. Bud71

    Calling the Pope's recently released "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), is as bad as saying this fat mouthy jerk is anorexic!!! Time for this clown to go back into his "drug cave" and start inhaling more Ritlin !!!

    December 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  5. Richard Hode

    Rush Limbaugh is a faex (= singular of feces.)

    December 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  6. suzannecharlett

    Pope to Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin: You are often wrong but never in doubt. You're in my prayers

    December 22, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  7. Fred Bear

    and Jesus was a Commie.....What is all this talk about healing the sick and feeding the poor? ....the poor are just lazy....go Limbaugh!

    December 22, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Ed

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

      December 25, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
  8. lambsev

    A moral people will help the poor, but they must have the resources (wealth) with which to help the poor. Capitalism and greed are not synonymous. Condemn the sin of greed, but do not use the existence of sinners as an excuse to condemn those who buy and sell in the market place. The Vatican, with it's bank and state are the financial beneficiaries of the free market, and is also reputed to be a very greedy lot of so called christians. We shall see...

    December 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
  9. Muhjesbude

    The Pope is not a Marxist.

    People often get confused because of the tendencies of agenda based politics to sometimes have overlapping ideology.

    The Pope and the Vatican church IS, was, and always will be a Theocratic Plutocracy. AKA a Royalist Theocracy. For those who don't know their whole world history from a hole in their posterior, This state of authoritative social mechanism is similar to a monarchy, as in 'Kingdom of Heaven'.

    The pope is a King, or more accurately an 'infallible godman' more similar to ancient Roman emperors. He would never subscribe to something so lowly as Marxism or common socialism.

    As a leader in charge of a Kingdom, he does, however, have a certain fiscal obligation to oversee his subjects, and the commerce involved in their mutual reciprocations. So most Popes have a good perpective on economics and world finance integrations. So his comments are to be respected and not simply criticized. After all, you don't get to be the 4th largest gold owning country in the world. (Italy which translates into the Vatican) and possibly the world's largest private non profit land owning corporation in the world by being 'economically' stupid?

    December 16, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  10. Cader

    Is Limbaugh a Jew? That would explain his attacks against the Pope.

    December 16, 2013 at 12:48 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.