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. skoshidogg

    All religion is fantasy but I sure like Francis a lot more than the Nazi’s who preceded him – besides, Rush is a washed up old geezer – who cares what he thinks?

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

      Rush has been married four times and has no children. I guess we should be grateful.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • loveroftheworld


        December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  2. DL

    That's a real coincidence – Rush is preaching pure hate

    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  3. Ed

    The truth is plain and simple. Jesus preached it was up to the individual to give to the poor – not a government or economic system. The focus of Jesus and the Catholic Church has always been the individual – what the individual should do. Jesus did not tell Rome or Ceaser what they had to do or what economic system they should use – he preached to the people and told THEM what they should do. Even if you agree with the Pope – the pope runs a Vatican government and economic system. Hhow does the Pope then justify the Vatican being so rich while there is one poor person on earth??? Maybe the Pope should lead by example vs. making speeches.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Greg Smith

      @Ed, in case you haven't been paying attention, the Pope has been leading by example. One that trends away from the hitorical vatican excess of his predecessors.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
      • Ed

        The Vatican still owns billions in art, businesses and real estate. This is a vast amount of wealth that could be used for the poor. The pope living in a smaller room or riding in a cheaper car doesn't do anything to help the poor – selling the excesses of the Vatican would actually be doing what he is preaching for "others".

        December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Baptist_Deacon

      Agree. Liberalism, Marxism and Socialism are all about what the government should do, Jesus preached what the Individial should do. When the pope is telling goverments what they should be doing, he is straying from Christianity.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • CJ

        People would be lost by the wayside if our Government didn't protect it's people. You think that just having people give to others would save everyone? And the fact that so called Christians spout this angers me beyond anything. I try to watch the Christian televangelists at night and I'm just sickened to my soul. I see preachers on their putting this same anti-government, anti-healthcare nonsense out there which in turn helps the rich get richer, bc the rich corporations want less government, less regulations. It was bc of this lack of regulation that our country was robbed blind, and then they blamed the poor, and want this fixed on the backs of the poor. And you in turn, promote this either purposely or ignorantly.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Baptist_Deacon

      As a citizen of the US, though, I have a right to tell my government what they should be doing.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
      • CJ

        This Pope is saying more for Christianity and for Christ's real teachings than I've heard any Christian leader say in a long time. Certainly not the ones I try to watch on TV. Being a Christian leader, you are going to be held to a higher standard. You need to educate yourselves, stop putting forth the propaganda that is put out there that government is evil. There is a real agenda out there by the big corporations to have people believe this, less government means they can rob us even more, they can do what they want, no rules, etc. It is what happened and caused our recession. I'm all for having our Government be changed and held to a higher standard also, we need total transparency in our government on where our tax monies are spent, etc., etc. That's why people like Limbaugh are so dangerous.

        December 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  4. ADK



    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  5. Bob

    Well if Rush is against it then I know I'm all for it. Go Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      you pray to the magick man in the sky?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
  6. Baptist_Deacon

    The pope's statements are based on a misunderstanding of what Jesus actually said. He did tell the disiples to "remember the poor", but he also told Judas that "You will always have the poor" in response to a woman pouring expesive perfume on his feet. Jesus did not expouse any kind of ecenomic system over another. Most people base their opinion that Jesus encouraged communism based on an event that occured after Jesus assended into heaven. During extreme persecution, the early church had to "hold all things in common" to be able to surrvive. Christianity was outlawed and as a result the believers were extreemly poor. They pooled their resources to be able to buy food and shelter. This practice was not something that was recomended by Jesus, it simply was a temporary solution to a temporary problem. The pope is taking advanage of the average person's lack of knowlege of the bible, to preach his social gospel. He needs to remember, if you are a friend of the world, you are the enemy of Jesus. I suspect this new pope doesn't care.

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

      That's right, you being a Baptist deacon, know more than the Pope.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • CJ

      You are the one that is ignorant in this. Jesus said if you do for others and the least of those, you do for me. He said to LOVE GOD and to LOVE others, all the commandments are bound up in this. That means we help the poor. We just don't sit on our false high thrones in judgment of others and think this is all that religion is about.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  7. Fred Evil

    Rush? This is Jesus. He's a liberal. Deal.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  8. KoreanGuy

    The Pope's actions seems to mimic what historical Jesus would do if he were walk the Earth today. Rush's actions mimics what a loud mouth, radio jock, 3 times divorced, cocaine addict would say. So this article is really just stating the facts. Nothing really eye opening for me.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  9. Jon

    Rush you are the one who don't know what you are talking about. Money creates problem in the world. It is unfortunate that we became slaves in it. Be poor and you will be in paradise, suffer and you will be save. This is the only ticket we have, to be in Heaven and not your precious money.

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

      ...says someone typing on his iPad at Starbucks...

      December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  10. powerfail

    If Republicans want to be in the running in 2016, they will need to shut Rush up. He and Palin are terrible representatives for the party.

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

      Then maybe he should continue to talk.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  11. edgarleon

    Limbaugh fails to understand that religion (or church) does not have to agree or follow or align with any specific social or economical position. It is not marxist or capitalist or socialist, it is supposed to be humanist.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  12. Wisdom

    Rush, you're massively embarrassing yourself with these comments.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  13. JH

    You go Rush! And exactly where on the financial totem pole were your parents and grandparents? Up there with the Koch's and Walton;s? Oh, that's right, it took one, two or three generations for all of you to reach your pinnacles of wealth. What!? They were all once among those "lower class people" they so want to keep down now. (Even 'middle class' is 'lower class to them).

    So Rush, you like this 'keep the poor in their place and push the middle class down'. How would that have worked for the previous generations of Limbaugh's, Koch's and Walton's?

    Now let's get to major point in the 'beliefs' of Rush and his GOP ilk: If the story and teachings of Jesus Christ were told to you, but without saying the main person was Jesus Christ the whole lot of the GOP, particularly the Tea Partiers would be calling that 'fella' communist, Marxist and worse. Telling us how bad our lot will be if we follow His ideas. Likely they would try to deport him, cause with a name like Jesus.. he's probably one of them Mexicano's who came here illegally.. like maybe Jesus Gonzolaz, or Jesus Ruiz or some such.

    When will the contingent of people who consistently vote GOP, and against their own best interest's wake up?

    Really Rush, even the Pope isn't off limits to your blowhard bad breath?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  14. SurprisedByNothingAnymore

    Apparantly Fox News doesn't know the difference between politics and economics:

    “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. "

    The pope was criticizing capitalism - not democracy. Oh, wait - I forgot that the 1% think they are the same - money can buy anything!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  15. Barbara

    “The Vatican wouldn’t exist without capitalism…I’ve been to the Vatican. It wouldn’t exist without TONS of money.”

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

      The Pope also criticized the way the Vatican has been run so far – and thus he introduces changes.

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

      Sooooo, you don't understand Capitalism, Marxism, the Church, or money. It might be time to log off the internet and crack open a book.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • jack

      The vatican doesn't exist because of capitalism, it exists from generous donations of the people, big difference.....

      December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • ryanwin

        Generous donations, yes. Not forced donations.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  16. Lomunchi

    Re Limbaugh: Why are 15M people still listening to him?
    Re: Il Papa: I'm glad he only has control over the church and not our governments.

    What anti-trickle downers don't look at is that North American and European poor have color TVs and Cell Phones and welfare where as the poor in the more government controled societies wait at the trash heaps for their meals to come in.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  17. Gerg Livingston

    I don't often agree with Lambaugh but he's right on this one.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      You know Jesus was a 'liberal,' right?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  18. Is he for real?

    So....GOP. Here we stand. On one hand you have the Pope, the highest position within the Catholic church, also the one closest to god. On the other hand you have Rush Limbaugh, the redneck, filthy mouthed, drug addict. Now choose one. The world is waiting!

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

      Fortunately, those aren't our choices. Limbaugh's an idiot and the pope's just doing his job. We'll all be OK.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
      • Is he for real?

        Yay someone who has common sense!

        December 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  19. Linda Lapointe

    There is not limit to stupidity and Rush is a perfect example.

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

    wow liberals act like an entertainer like rush limbaugh has done worse things than the RCC.

    am i reading this thread right?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Susan Bosworth

      Actually they have both done the same – with little boys.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:05 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.