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. LeRoy_Was_Here

    It is Rush Limbaugh who does not understand capitalism and socialism. Rush's mistake is in thinking that trickle-down Marie Antoinette capitalism is the only kind of capitalism there is. America was NOT practicing trickle-down economics during the period from 1945-1973, which some economic historians have called 'the Golden Age of Capitalism'--you can Google on that!--which was when America truly had a thriving middle class. And MUCH lower inequality. I think that is the kind of capitalism that Pope Francis would be more approving of.

    Rush would benefit from taking a good solid college course in economic history. If he paid attention, that is.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  2. apragmatist

    the hate monger at his best. what can you say about a 4 time married drug addict who preaches hate on a daily basis? LOSER!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Citations please?

      Citations please? Where is this "hate" shill?

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

        "Nappy headed ho's" ring a bell?

        December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          I remember it. It sounds like Limbaugh, but it wasn't Rush Limbaugh who said that. It was Don Imus, and Imus lost his job over it...Look it up...

          December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  3. Joe

    I was listening to the Pope last week and was thinking the same thing. I usually don't agree with Rush, but he got this one right.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  4. Tyrone Shoelaces

    Why is Mr Limbaugh front page news? His opinions are not worth consideration.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • Joe

      Like it or not, Rush is telling the truth.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      because CNN knows his name or sarah palins will make libs go nuts, and click on the article a million times making them advertising money

      December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  5. Roland

    He gets paid hundreds of millions of dollars to say stuff that is inflammatory he even gets headlines on CNN.Who is the idiot him or you who pay attention to what he's saying?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  6. Bartleby

    I don't like Rush, but at least it is a critical voice. The media has so far given the Pope a free pass:

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  7. Derp

    ...And I should care what either of these men say? CNN is now TMZ with less humor.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  8. Jen

    Old story, read about this last week. CNN, try reading trending stories of the day instead of regurgitating last weeks news. It's as if you are shooting for "same news, second wave through the papers".

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  9. Pablo

    Problem is that these people in the hills and hollers of "Merica who do listen to Rush on those 50 watt AM stations across the country are disposed to disagree with the Pope regardless of what he says (primarily Baptists), and this solidifies their position that Rush speaks for them.

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

      The real problem is that Rush continually pretends he is an expert in fields about which he knows very little. I taught economic systems for 40 years at the college level and what the Pope is espousing is NOT Marxism or even close.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  10. papabear

    The bible asks us to contribute 10% of our earnings to stewartship. I know some wealthy folks who do, but most don't. Instead they build and build their castles in the sand. I don't think we'd be discussing this issue if ALL of us contributed this much because if we did, there wouldn't be an issue. There's nothing wrong with capitalism / self-actualization, but when greed, power and pride kicks in, then we now have the haves and have-nots. Just my opinion...

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  11. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about FORCED CHARITY, OR TAKING PEOPLES MONEY BY FORCE which i am sure the vatican would love to do.

    and then redistributing the money.

    taking money by force to give to other people is infact a tenet of marxism.

    why is this hard to understand for some?

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

      Its actually not; in a pure Marxist system money doesn't exist. Do some research before you make a fool of yourself

      December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Rascal262

      You're argument against taking money by force to give to other people would carry more weight if I didn't have to pay for your kids education, and your police force, and your library, and...

      December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  12. Jeff

    This is your lead story on the website for what reason? Nice job when you go to CNN.com main page with the contrast of the two pictures. One dark and evil, other smiling and happy.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  13. SensePls

    Ok. Wait a second.

    Since when Capitalism is part of Christianity?

    Why is it bad if Pope likes a different system?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  14. MockingBirdKiller

    The Pope basically is preaching socialism. The reason Socialism never works is because the elite in society buy off the politicians and get exempted from any kind of socialistic policy or law. The middle class are always the ones that get left with the bill. If Pope Francis came out and said we need to get corporate money out of politics, I would agree with him. However, Socialism is not the answer.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Frank G

      What are you talking about? The elite in society in America already buy off politicians to get exempted from laws. It only fails when they go to far with it like Madoff.

      So in a socialistic society the elite buy off politicians to get exempted from socialistic laws and in our capitalistic society the corporate elite buy off politicians to get exempted from laws. Sounds like the same issue to me

      December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
      • MockingBirdKiller

        Basically. What we have now in America is corporate socialism, otherwise known as Fascism. Corporations and government are not bound by the same laws as the public are. That is Tyranny.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Ben

      What you're describing is our current Society as designed by Republicans.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Dustin

      But your description of the consequences of socialism also applies to what's going on right now with superPACs and campaign contributions. Many systems can lead to elites buying out politicians.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  15. Mosihasteen

    So, the pope is decrying the 'culture of prosperity'? I think he should start by looking how easily the clergy in most parts of the world live, especially his own. He and his predecessors have had all the accouterments of a king. Stick to the spiritual, Your Holiness, the world has enough problems without you fiddling with economies.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Rascal262

      Because he sets the agenda for the GOP platform, which affects your future regardless of which party is in power.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  16. needNewGov

    Wow, a religious leader who actually acts and talks more Christ-like. It's a concept I wish more would follow. As for Rush, he's a far-right entertainer and needs to keep feeding his followers. Why he matters to the rest of the world who knows.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  17. cdrfish

    Like millions of other people, I have spent much of my life looking for a religion or political movement I could really believe in. The Catholic church is the last place I expected to find what I was looking for, but maybe I need to re-think things. . .

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  18. crappygovernment

    'Social Justice' = communism, you airheads!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  19. Mp jojo





    he's never wrong.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  20. cooper5

    Sometimes our integrity is measured by those who hate us.

    Anyone despised by Rush is admired by me.

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

      Ha Ha! Me too!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • noly972

      I agree. If Rush has a problem with someone, it's likely a redeeming feature in anyone else's eyes.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:27 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.