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. mike

    Evidently, Limbaugh hasn't really read Marx either, so who cares?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      did you read Evangelii Gaudium?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  2. D987654321

    So...we're supposed to believe that Limbaugh read all 50,000 words the night before he got on the mic and lambasted the Pope?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • DB

      He doesn't care if you believe it it or not.

      What matters is that his audience believes it.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  3. Bulos Qoqish

    So Rush Limbaugh takes Pope Francis to task for "abandoning the true message of Scriptures, which confirms the morality of laisser-faire capitalism and which defines socialism as a 'sin'".

    His Holiness the Pope needs to learn up on the Bible; and where better to do so, than from profound thinkers and scholars like Rush Limbaugh?

    I mean, who's the POPE as an "authority" on "Christian" thinking, compared to an AM talk radio host? The impudence of the man! He's only wearing the "Shoes of the Fisherman", as opposed to a nice new pair of Gucci loafers from an upscale Florida boutique!

    Thank goodness we have a deep thinker and philosopher like Rush Limbaugh to educate Pope Francis on "the 'real' message of the Christian Bible", namely, "God is a Republican, and Jesus was the Original Tea Partier".

    Now toe the line, Francis! You've been given your orders! The slightest deviation from them, and Rush will excommunicate you with the worst, most damning Mark of Cain that a "Christian" could POSSIBLY be tarred with :

    "You're a 'Democrat'".

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • ana

      Glad to see at least one other person recognizes Limbaugh as the supreme arbiter of all theological debate and economic policy.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  4. Apple Bush

    There are so many posts on this so fast it is not possible to participate in any conversations.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  5. Todd

    What the Pope is preaching about is for reform of the current business values and ethics, NOT Marxism. Gosh, when you hold extreme views like Limbaugh, anything gets twisted. If Rush has such good ideas, why doesn't he run for president, only problem is nobody of sane mind would vote for him!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  6. DaveinFlorida

    Who listens to the ramblings of a drug addict anyway?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  7. tony

    Let's see all the pro-christian sponsors pull the plug. Or will they go on record as helping pay for Rush to criticize Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  8. billym67

    I don't believe in god or the bible, as a book of facts, and I think organized religion is usually not a good thing, but if Rush and the morons at Fox don't like the new pope, I'm all for him!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  9. ADK



    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • tony

      Like the Chinese Communists who practically own us, because they are so successful capitalists?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  10. DB

    Limbaugh will say whatever he has to say to keep his audience foaming at the mouth. His listeners are angry, ignorant people who have been led to believe that their problems are caused by lazy poor people and lazy minorities. Railing against "Marxism" is all part of the act.

    But let's not lose sight of the fact that the Vatican is sitting on a horde of treasure that would be envy of any king...and as far as I know, the Pope has not made any plans to auction it off with all the money going to help the poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  11. John

    I don't really know what fascism and socialism are but I plan to blame Obama for everything anyway. You know – Liberals and stuff. Liberals hate everything that is good and love welfare and criminals. Obama wants to destroy our country but we patriots are going to take us back to the 1950's when we didn't have minoriies causing trouble and there wasn't no missegination.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  12. Bob C.

    Seriously ... who gives a crap what a (supposedly) celibate holy man thinks about anything? The Catholic Church is at least 2 centuries behind the times.

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

      The real question is 'Who gives a %&*$ what some pathetic, washed up reactionary thinks about anything and why is this a CNN headline?"

      December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  13. Jim

    I wonder of the Pope was just talking about the Vatican and the billions of dollars they bring in every year, and that doesn't seem to "trickle" down to the parishes, unless of course its a molestation lawsuit they are settling. I also find it ironic that the left is always screaming about separation of church and state until the church comes out with an extreme liberal view then they embrace it

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

      Church giving to the poor and needy is an EXTREME view? WOW Just goes to show how crazy the Right Christian view has become.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  14. Ken Paul

    Why is CNN giving Rush Limbaugh all this free publicity? He is an entertainer who panders to a certain radio market. Suggesting he is anything other than this is appalling.

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

      Because they know if they mention rush people will tune in, only way CNN can boost their viewership

      December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  15. KarmaBurns

    Rush is a sad and sick addict. The man completely misses the true reading of the Gospel or what Jesus preached. Rush is a Pharisee and the Pharisee's worshipped power and money in that day. I am not Catholic but I will go with the Pope's take on the Gospel before money-loving Rush's. Rush wants us to go back to slavery, women in submission, only the rich getting healthcare and human rights. He would have been extremely content in 1850.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Syd

    Limbaugh is a tool.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  17. Doug from Seattle

    The republican's are so focussed on democrats supposedly taking Christ out of Christmas that they fail to realize that they are taking Christ out of Christianity!

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

      Beautifully said, Mr. Doug! Ghandi always said he would have been Christian had he actually met one.

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

    The Republicans will keep this pope in check. He is out of control and needs to learn who the boss is.

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

      Who would that be? LOL

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

      Excuse me ? The pope is just talking reality. The capitalist system has huge problems and he names them, the first step to
      work on it and improve the situation and you call think a pope needs to be kept checked by a delusional talk show radical who is only good to be material for comedians ?? Nice ...

      December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • btizzle

      You left the word "Bag". We all know you meant Tea Bad Please.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • btizzle

      You left out the word "Bag". We all know you meant Tea Bag Please.

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

    Seriously CNN - there is no other news at the moment? Rushbo's random pronouncement of the day gets the top spot 48 point font headline on your website? Surely there's a kitten in a tree somewhere in Minneapolis ... even a new Miley Cyrus sighting would be of greater import than this.

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

      I live in Mpls and can report that our trees are cat-free at the moment.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  20. james

    The Pope is preaching not Marx but Obamanism. The redistribution of wealth will lead to the socialist state where private property is eliminated. Except the property of the church. That will be grandfathered in because the churches have so much property.

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

      Capitalism has created new middle classes in many countries of the world and is reducing poverty. Put that in your pipe pope!
      You are a loser!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
      • Todd

        Are you talking about those jobs where people kill themselves for $1-$2 an hour in China or probably less?

        December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Observer


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

      You ride the short bus don't you?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • KarmaBurns

      Think you are middle class, don't you? Awwwww, your disgust of those "beneath your station" is truly sad.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • ralph

      Do you know what socialism is? Watch the nfl.. As for healthcare (obamacare) that is the the govt. regulating private industry. Do you have a string that someone pulls and you repeat the bs you just spouted?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • John

      Paying taxes is wealth distribution. I don't want to pay no taxes to no minority president who is just going to give my money to the Liberals. We poor and ignorant dolts need to stick together and fight for the rich people to keep getting richer. Rush isn't racist, he's just speaking the truth that White People are the bestest.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
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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.