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)

    Oh my gosh would somebody please shut this idiot up!! People like Limbaugh have nothing better to do than to find reasons
    to make something good out to be bad. I feel sorry for you Mr. Limbaugh you live in such a shallow existing and the people who pay this idiot just for the ratings.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Smuckers

      I bet you are of catholic faith. The truth hurts. That's a given.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  2. greg

    "He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system." Which was fine as long as he was criticizing communism. Can anybody say "double standard"?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  3. Dan

    No world view and limited peripheral vision can do that to you.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  4. EX Catholic

    Well well, but what else can we expect? The guy is from Argentina, a country that for the most part of it's history has been dominated by Fascists. That hosted many NAZIS after WW2 and that until recent history, photos of Adolf Hitler were found in the barracks of the Army. Communism, Marxism and socialism are staples in the politics there, but then again; who is Rush Limbaugh? Oh, I know an American radical Nationalist! 😉 so... then; what have we here?

    Well I would say this is just an inside quarrel between 2 beast in the jungle. Or 2 guys in the same little row boat in the swamp of the jungle, just rowing in opposite directions, struggling to be the one to lead the little row boat somewhere. 😀 😀

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  5. IpseCogita

    It's not quite pure,

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  6. Reason

    Grand Dragon Limbaugh strikes again.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  7. pbernasc

    Last time I checked, the Church wasn't a for profit business, at least the Catholic church ... not sure what the fat crass dude hiding behind an expensive protection fence is talking about ...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  8. chill

    Funny Mr. Varney how is refusing to give Communion to pro-choice politicians not trying to influence their politics. I'm guessing you had no problem with that. Given that Marx was an atheist, the comparison to the Pope is a bit bizzare. But then we are talking Rush. And if he thinks the Pope's writings are Marxist, he ought to read the writings of another fairly well know radical named Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  9. Crocker

    Re: "unregulated capitalism can have negative consequences." A true statement – specially when you add GREED to the mix. Take the oil company monopolies for example. Their money and lobbying power assures their continued success.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  10. Been There Done That

    This fat,drug addict, liars' pretense at being GOD, has gone on far too long. Criticizing the POPE for Christ's sake!
    OK ratcheting down my own outrage, the stream of vindictive flowing from Limbough, has all the earmarks of the paid mis-director of fact's at work. This guy, is so completely bought and owned, forever in dept to his billionaire handlers, (he sold his soul to), that I know, he's only saying what he's told to say.
    So, the fact's fall to the obvious, pour befuddled dear Rush, when finding a warm, loving, concerned caring man, ascended to leadership of the Catholic Church, crap's his own pant's, while claiming that's WRONG?
    What a FOOL!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  11. tony

    Gosh. Our masses of homeless in the inner cities slums and the most common cause of bankruptcy being health issues must be a figment of our imagination.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  12. Pablo

    Little known fact is that when the surgeons peeled back his fat scalp to implant the hearing aid he needs to overcome the effects of years of drug abuse, they found a 666 etched into his skull.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  13. Killing Bill O'Reilly

    Jesus was a Marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Revtim

      Funny how these right-wingers are so quick to invoke Christianity, but have to ignore the fact that their messiah was the leftiest hippy in history.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • pbernasc

      that's a factually wrong statement ...
      however he wasn't a Wall Street Speculator either .. .then again .. he was able to multiply fish and bread without working so .. not sure he was human either

      December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  14. sfg

    The pope should put his money where his mouth is.

    Open the Vatican archives to scholarly research, and
    donate the Church's treasures to charity.

    The pope doesn't mind dictatorship,
    as long as he gets to be in the elite.

    He is a Marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Crocker

      Good point. I think the church would rather keep things as they are. Too much information for the faithful masses can be a bad thing.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  15. Will

    Rush being critical ...What a shocker ! Hes just getting the attention that he needs .

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  16. AustinMalo

    CNN Why do you give this joker headlines? It seems you agree with him that his opinions outweigh all other serious news

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  17. Chicoescuela

    Ignorance + Big mouth + Microphone = Rush Limbaugh

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • pbernasc

      Small Dick, Big Mouth, No Brain = Republican + Fat = Limbough

      December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  18. MMeans

    How does Limbaugh know what Marxism is? He barely graduated high school. Who listens to this drop out, draft dodging, disc jockey, junkie anyway?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  19. jpw2001

    Yes, because capitalism has been sooooo great to the middle class this last decade or so.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  20. blakenaustin

    As usual, Limbaugh is absolutely correct. The new pope is far left both in his economics and his morality. Sad!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Revtim

      In other words, he actually follows the teachings of Jesus Christ.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • tony

      Sad that he is like Jesus was said to be and quoted as?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
      • InTheKnow327

        Show me where Jesus encouraged the government to forcibly take others' earnings and distribute them according to its political priorities. Wasn't Jesus all about encouraging his followers to give voluntarily, to please God? Didn't he rail against government tax collectors?

        December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • And Jesus said

          no, Jesus did not rail against tax collectors, he said render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. He never even railed against government, but instead said that all leaders are from God. Now you want to ask another question?

          December 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • joethejuggler

      Darn Marxists have been controlling the Church since the beginning! See Acts 4: 34-35.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • joethejuggler

        "34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need."

        December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
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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.