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. Nobody

    Wow really Rush? Really? Heaven forbid the leader of a church would recommend empathy, charity, even accountability to humanity! Why that's just crazy talk! Let me say this Mr. Limbaugh ..There are a lot of people who've spent lives working to achieve financial security. The difference between the ones who worked hard and have it; and the ones who worked hard and don't? Luck. No successful person got there just because he or she deserved it. EVER. You are hardly the only opinionated sensationalist on the planet. You need to remember that you were one big break from being a member of the currently endangered middle class. You may well have been one big break from being the guy living in a box in an alley. Just like the rest of us. As for me; I agree with the majority of posters here. Sad as it may seem; I'm guessing that God wasn't awaiting your assessment of the Pope. I wonder if you're waiting for his assessment of you.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  2. strangerq

    Pope is preaching the message of Jesus.

    Neo conservatives message is un Christian.

    Always has been.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • EX Catholic

      No he is not preaching the Gospel of Jesus! An idolater is not a follower of Jesus and that what he is.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
      • bstech2003

        Matthew 6:24 "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." Which are Jesus' words from the new testament. It is very clear but causes a lot of problems American Christians.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  3. Lorraine

    Never before have I been so moved to go back to my catholic church.

    Thank you Pope Francis

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  4. Colleen Meegan

    On second thought, CNN, why do you even bother printing anything having to do with Mr Limbaugh? It degrades your website and your credibility.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  5. ADK

    Brazilian Catholicism as practiced in their country, seems to me the most confused and contradictory exercise of the religion....

    Just my personal opinion...

    The Pope is from Brazil... what did the Cardinals expect??

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  6. Michael Girouard

    I think the case might be made that Christ himself went overboard on the "common-man" stuff. Rush is confusing church and state, again.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  7. Tom

    Oh goody! A war between Limbaugh and the most popular Pope in the last several centuries. I wonder what happens when all the Catholics boycott Limbaugh and all his sponsors...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |

    Oh yeah just looking at you makes me cringe

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  9. Tea Please

    Right on Rush. They are afraid of you because you are right.

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

      Lol. No. Limbaugh has been singularly wrong on mist everything that comes out of his mouth.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

      Thats a matter of opinon

      December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  10. SillyHuman

    It is just entertainment.... he has an estimated 15 million people he entertains... he could not govern himself out of a paper bag. Why this moron is making headline news I have no idea.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  11. Patrick Driscoll

    Rush speaks, makes the headlines, Rush laughs all the way to the bank.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  12. Douglas Hyde

    Pope Francis is a follower of Jesus Christ who gave The Sermon on The Mount. Love, Compassion, and caring for the underprivileged are messages of this Great Sermon. Do Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin think that it is a Christian principal for a few to make $80M a year while others starve. There is nothing wrong with making money, but it is also the duty of the fortunate to provide for the less fortunate. Capitalism without compassion is wrong. For 2 % of the people to have 90 % of the wealth does not say that capitalism is working. Without the other 98 % of the people buying what the 2 % are selling this 2 % would not be in the positions that they currently find themselves in. The Pope is merely saying that this imbalance will eventually lead to upheaval and aggression in the world. Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin just don't get it.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  13. william

    Rush better watch what he says, you know the catholic folks consider the pope there Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Colleen Meegan

      Poor grammar and just plain incorrect.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Lovely

      Not a good idea to think he is Jesus according to the Prophecy somewhere someone will say they are Jesus but not and will maybe hurt alot of people. Anyway Jesus is cooper coming from a Cloud..........God's Glory and Splendor everyone thinks the bible is for their Glory. Wait and see what Glory is and it's not a man it's spirit a real spirit. No man can control it once you see it you are in their control. Structure: ministry is off and the focus is on financials. Out of focus lack of leadership, and management skills in the kingdom of heaven. My tribe the best leaders in the world has been under this leadership. It is the Holy Mountain of God a spirit that he will give to the leader. This is the only way to lead with the Gospels, YES, HE will trap you by putting HIS own spirit on you and you will do things that you never thought. Really, we have all been under his spirit. MESSAGE: From experience, once you think you have control over God HE will turn the entire world on your back and you cannot get out until he is done..WATCH THE GLORY HE IS COMING!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  14. Bobby John

    I'm not religious, but per Christ's own words regarding the wealthy, I hope Rush enjoys eternity in Hell.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  15. J.P.

    NWO Minuteman......I was wondering that exactly....Why the opening page?....

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  16. sonny chapman

    Who would have thought that the Creator would use a Rush Limbaugh to help spread His WORD as enunciated by Jesus in the Four Gospels ? The Lord DOES truly work in mysterious ways !

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  17. HJC

    I don't know what the Pope has in mind for fixing the status quo. Maybe he doesn't either. I do know that every Marxist or socialist economy has failed.

    So what now?

    Capitalism has an ugly side but it has a better chance of making a change than any government run program or directives. Taking from the "have" impoverishes them and does not necessarily raise the living standards of the "have nots."

    The reason trickle down doesn't work is the same reason socialism doesn't work: it relies on people to in order to work,

    Meanwhile the government and politicians benefit from the middle-class being eviscerated.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
  18. pkMyt1

    WOW!!! What a Donkeys A$$. I'm not religious and don't care much for any religion but this pope is either very good at PR or is actually trying to get the church into the 20th century (yes I meant 20th). Rush and his ilk would like the world to go back to the Middle Ages.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      you sure read a lot into this article. did you even read it?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Joe M.

      If you read what the Pope actually said, rather than reflexively insulting Limbaugh, you might think differently. He's praising the Chavez model in Venezuela.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Observe

      Rush is preaching McCarthyism.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • sMUKERS

      We mist certainly will go back to the Middle Ages of we do what this pope wants.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
      • Smuckers

        We most certainly will go back to the Middle Ages if we do what this "pope" wants.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
  19. Lemon Talks

    the catholic church murdered millions in the crusades

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      Yes that was wrong & contrary to the Message of Jesus as found in the Four Gospels.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bobby John

      And your forefathers endorsed slavery, so you think future generations of the Catholic church should be held accountable for the sins of the past?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • wackyredxterra

      Good, too bad they failed. Had they killed all the Muslims the world would be a better place.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  20. AAmir Khan

    How many evangelists support an increase in minimum wage? universal health care? You would be hard pressed to find them. The leaders of our Churches are financed by the rich conglomerates. We have mega-churches that make millions each month and yet find it difficult to run a food bank.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:55 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.