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. Person

    I'm no believer, but I wonder what Limbaugh would say about their imaginary friend Jesus telling the rich guy to sell all he has and give it to the poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • nancheska

      I'm guessing he'd have to say that Jesus was/is a Marxist, too. But then, he didn't really think this one through before he blasted vitriol. We've seen this many times before, and unfortunately, we'll see it again. That man would try the patience of Job.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
      • DrWu2

        Marx was a Jew who rejected his own religion and the concept of a Creator who's gift to man was life and free will in favor of a forced political morality enforced by an all powerful government of men.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Thinker...

      He would say that that was a test of faith for that one rich man. Other rich people aren't included in that. At least that is the excuse I have heard from other rich Christians posed the same question. That has probably been the answer of popes and bishops in the past too.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • bilson28282

      you really are a very, very stupid person aren't u?

      December 2, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
      • marks320

        Insults with no substance. Very mature.

        December 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  2. esteroboy

    Limbaugh would not exist without moneyed interests.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Thinker...

      Sure he would. He'd be that guy on the corner lot selling the same 6 used cars to the desperate.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
      • elizabeth

        Nah, he'd have died long ago from artery failure. His money keeps him fat and well doctored.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  3. FG

    Limbaugh, as all conservatives are just laughable. If it didn't come from their mouths it can't be true. I'm sure Limbaugh would also challenge Christ if he were on earth today.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Katrina Wogoman

      Most definitely true. IF Jesus were real and stepped onto earth today, they'd call him the antichrist for not approving of their agenda. LOL

      December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
      • Mosihasteen

        That's where faith comes in. You too would probably deny his messianic dignity. But don't worry too much. Even Peter denied knowing Him 3 times. We're all in the same boat.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  4. olepi

    Notice that Rush is wearing a hearing aid; too many drugs causes that.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Mosihasteen

      I need a hearing aid too and I don't do drugs ever dummy!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • Brewer

        No, but that is the reason he does.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • LB

      Limbaugh needs hearing aids because he has cochlear implants as a result of long term Oxycontin abuse. The surgery was done a few years ago and was well covered in all the media, both conservative and liberal media outlets. He's been in trouble with the authorities numerous times for doctor shopping to get his Hillbilly Heroin fix. I mean, who needs to be in possession of over 300 Oxycontin pills at any given time. This, too, was well covered in the media. He's no more than a drug addled bully with powerful political connections who has no problem exploiting them and placing them at his call whenever he wants to. It's high time that Limbaugh be pulled down from his lofty perch and made to answer for the hatred he has spewed for way too many years.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
      • Linda

        Amen to that! You are right on. He is a drug addict blowhard-ignore his caustic bantering.

        December 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  5. BobAD

    So now Rush is going to get the Christian Faithful battling between themselves. Conservatives using any Religion as a cover to attack women, blacks, poor and anyone that they choose to be a target are no better than the Greedy Media Hounds that bait these Low Information / Ability Individuals. Rush for all the money you make it will burn in hell with you.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  6. Mycenia

    Both sides are cherry picking what pieces of the bible they wield. The difference is that Francis is focusing on the part that better our humanity and Limbaugh and his ilk have long focused on the bits that better their wallets...

    December 2, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • joeblowski

      to what part of scripture does rush point? 'the turner diaries,' i suppose.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • AAmir Khan

      Unless there is a Rush Limbaugh version of the bible I don't think any part of it fattens wallets for anyone.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  7. Dave

    Rush will say anything for a dollar. He's the fat kid screaming "look at me" repeatedly in the grocery store.
    It's not the stupid things that he says, it's the millions of stupid people who listen and believe what he says as the truth.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Alfredo

      I whole heartedly agree with the last part of your post. Who are the 15 million poor, ignorant, individuals who follow this hate spewing bigot? I still get a good laugh when I watch the news that rush predicts Romney by a landslide. Where the hell did he get this information? After the election he denied he ever said this. He said it on the radio and on TV. He needs to change his medication, seriously. When I need a laugh I listen to him for 5 minutes, he should have his own comedy channel, I guess in a way he already does.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
      • Bob

        Not a Rush fan, but just curious what you have ever accomplished in your life? I mean, you like to toss around insults, so what do you have to show? A book? A patent? Anything?

        December 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
      • Alfredo Lopez

        If the question from Bob was for me, Alfredo, you wanted to know what I have accomplished, not much. I have an AA, BA, & MS, along with California Secondary Teaching Credential. I was also a California Highway Patrol Sergeant, 15 years. I also happen to be fluent in 2 languages and am an expert marksman with the AR-15 and knowledge of KRAV MAGA,(Israeli Self-defense). I have one son pitching in college with a possible pro baseball career as an option and another waiting to be accepted to UCLA, Stanford, or Cal Berkley. Hope that allows me to have an opinion on the viagra smuggler.

        December 3, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Lynnard-FL

      (Picture the Dos Equis man...) I don't always (ever!) listen to Rush Limbaugh, but when I do, it's on the (John Stewart) Daily Show. Where his (Rush's) stupidity is exposed for all the world to see.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  8. anon

    This is hilarious. Here we have a Pope pushing all the tenants of the Bible, not just the cherry picked parts to fit the conservative GOP worldview. The Pope is calling it like it is.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the Pope has a better grasp of what it really means to be Christian than Rush does. I'm not religious in the slightest and I'm certainly not an enslaved liberal, but I'm also not an enslaved conservative.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Grand

      Exactly. Rush needs to shut his mouth about things he has no knowledge of.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • rolnthndr

        I agree, but if he shut his mouth on subjects he knows nothing about, all he would ever talk about is drug abuse and porking out on food.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Wittenberg

      If you knew your history, you would know that the Popes of Rome for centuries have been the greatest oppressors of personal liberty, religious freedom – and the greatest defenders of hypocrisy and corruption, as well as false spiritual teaching. Ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition? Or the Dark Ages? The new world (America) was founded by people looking for freedom from Popes and kings. Don't forget that.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • one who has common sense

        Get real..you talking over 200 years for one and longer for the other

        December 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • Lucille

        You are absolutely right. That is why Martin Luther left the Catholic Church and penned the 95 thesis to the church door. He realized the works system of Catholicism is not Christianity because "...the just shall live by faith ..."

        December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • cgwatts

        Truth...and most recently their passive defense of the child molester priests they have shuffled around the world to avoid further controversy.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
        • mike elgado

          That's not just limited to the catholic priest more and more pedophiles are being found in other religions.

          December 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
      • dan

        Perhaps we could live in the present. The Pope is espousing the teachings of Christ. What a shocker.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
      • howudothat

        There is no perfect ISM when a few can "MONOPOLIZE" the masses.

        The Pope is not calling for the end of Capitalism – he's merely pointing out that it is time to recalibrate the "MONOPOLIZATION" of resources by a few. Truly "free" Capitalism – with little or no regulations has shown time and time again that it will manifest itself into Communism – those with all will dictate to those without.

        I'm not claiming that we've reached that tipping point – but we are well on our way.

        GMO's, CO2, health care costs, energy costs, a few banks, telecommunications – each one of these industry practices collusion on price setting – not supply demand – how do you know – supply side economics...

        The point is this, when all decisions are being made because of margins, situations arise when what's best for humanity and what's best for margins come to an impasse – which side wins – why does humanity ever lose? Is it the current ISM gone wild?

        December 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
        • 2mvb

          this is the most intelligent thing I've heard in this blog so far, well said

          December 3, 2013 at 10:14 am |
      • Gianni

        The same can be said about white men in this country, remember slavery and the annihilation of the Native Americans?

        December 2, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
      • Robert Constant

        If you think that is something, you should check out the preachings of Martin Luther that labelled the Jews as "Christ KIllers" and laid the groundwork " for the holocaust.
        As for guilt by association, that IS a Republican trick. Profiling is a current example. Let us jusge each person by his own merits and his own statements.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:42 am |
      • Robert Constant

        Some of the greatest religious persecution was carried out by the Puritans. They did not believe in religious tolerance or religious freedom for anyone except themselves. Read your History about Roger Williams and Ann Hathaway. Ever hear of the Salem Witch Trials? YOUR ignorance is astounding!

        December 3, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  9. DrDemento

    Rush is a bag of hot air, a blowhard with nothing really to back up the mouth. He has no education to speak of.. Im not fan of the catholic church.. but Im less a fan of Rush..

    December 2, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  10. darknesscrown

    Limbaugh makes his money by doing this...saying utterly ridiculous things to people who don't know any better (but all nod in agreement with him because he says it forcefully enough) and gets free publicity for his poorly worded diatribes about how the world works. When he gets press like this, he, and the terrible human beings who are his fans, win. I know, I know, it's REALLY hard to not say "did you HEAR what Rush Limbaugh..or Sarah Palin...or Glenn Beck said this time?!" But just stop it. These people are vampires sucking the life-force and intellect right out of the world. These people NEED it to survive, because without it, they'd all commit suicide. We should all help expedite that end by not listening to anything they have to say.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • anon

      The exact same thing happens with Liberals and other media outlets. Don't think it doesn't, that's very naive.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • Hn

        So you agree with Limabaugh that pope should drop uplifting the poor and focuss on Reagan brand of trickle down economics so rich can get richer and from the goodness of their heart take care of the less fortunate? If you don't then say so without changing discussion.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
      • cecilok


        December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
      • pal

        If you can't see there is no comparison, it's easy to see why you are so clueless. You fell "hook line and sinker" for Rush's evil. Conservatives, like Rush, have hatred and evil in their hearts. Anyone with their eyes open can see the truth. Of course, the Bible explains, some will not be able to see the Truth. I think that's you.

        December 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Former Radio Talk Guy

      It may be a desperation move to shore up his falling ratings.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  11. tatanka

    Jesus, Rush. Is there ANYTHING that doesn't get your little girl panties in a bunch?

    December 2, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • David

      Apparently not.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  12. yogi

    We have a pope who is actually following the teachings of Christ, and look at the reactions of the extreme right. They are void of compassion and caring, what a sad bunch.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Michael

      How did Bill Maher put it a few months ago? The Pope's words are welcome because they'll "make Rush Limbaugh explode like a bag of meat dropped from a helicopter. Because they'll make Sarah Palin go rogue in her pants."

      December 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • Hn

        You are seeing it played out. He was being humorously realistic not preaching liberal policy. Limbaugh is preaching GOP version of capitalism.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  13. Edward

    Take another pain pill Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  14. AmeriRod

    and Liimbaugh and his supporters are Godless Nazis...

    December 2, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • igaftr

      First, as far as any can show, all people are godless, as far as them being Nazi's, where is any evidence of that?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  15. rabidmob

    Limbaugh proves he doesn't understand Christianity.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • igaftr

      40,000 versions of "christianity"....clearly the christians don't understand it either..

      December 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
      • JS

        There is only 1 Christianity - the one followed by Orthodox and Catholics. The theology is same in both. There are approx 35000 protestant churches, which started off 500 years ago, changed the bible, removed Jesus in Eucharist, removed Tradition of apostles on interpretation of scriptures, and ended up having multiple and individual interpretations and scattered. Jesus said to Peter, On him, He would build his church. And the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Catholic Church follows Peter's apostleship, and in discussion on merging Orthodox Churches, which split off a 1000 years back on one theological and many administrative grounds. The theological issue is resolved centuries back. Administrative issues are being sorted out.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
        • Liss

          That is the most ridiculous post I've seen all week. Thank you for that.

          December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  16. Rick

    What is sad is that Rush Limbaugh thinks that the term "Marxist" is still relevant.

    And while we're on the subject of terms, someone should tell Mr. Varney that capitalism is an economic system not a political one.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  17. phineas furburger

    limbaff is a idiot. just saying. people that listen to him should be neutered.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:56 am |
  18. tony

    Saying they were more popular than Jesus is what got the Beatles disliked in America.

    Now it's Rush's turn . . . .

    December 2, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • tatanka

      Rush deserves the reaction more.

      December 2, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • mark scott ducharme

      you equate the Pope with Jesus. How? Why?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • Robert Constant

        The Pope is simply following the teachings of Jesus.

        December 3, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • kwhisperer

      While a few records may have gotten burned, it's ludicrous to suggest the Beatles were loved in the US. (And how can you possibly put Limbaugh anywhere near the level of the Beatles??)

      December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • igaftr

      Yeah, the Beatles are so unliked in America you NEVER hear any of their music being played.

      Lennon's comment about that was taken the wrong way by many christians. What he meant was that they reach more people in their time than Jesus reached in his.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • cross eyed mary

        Like u no

        December 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • David

      The Beatles were disliked by WHOM? The Xtians. Who freakin' cares? They continue to be the biggest thing in music to this day. The Xtians have to have someone to hate. Always.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Lynnard-FL

      And this has to do with WHAT, exactly?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  19. Mercury

    Perhaps, but then, Limbaugh is a fascist.

    And for you reincarnation enthusiasts, Rush was born several years after the death of Joseph Goebbels.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  20. Cwhat'sNew

    This really shows the true color of Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 11:55 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.