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. BO

    No truer words were ever spoken.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  2. Katrina Wogoman

    Oh... shut up, Rush. Who can possibly take you seriously....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • rush sucks

      most republicans without a backbone or a brian

      December 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  3. Nathan

    It's interesting to see people talk about 'the left' and 'the right' as if the world is black and white. Limbaugh is in his own little world, incapable of seeing anything except his own views apparently.

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

      His echo chamber is vast.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  4. BRC

    I don't think people are giving Rush enough credit on this one. I thin khiw statement was truly "Christian" in nature, and in fact, deeply in the spirit of giving. He willingly and openly handed those who disagree with him and oppose his views more evidence that he is a closed minded simpleton. And really, is there any act more Christ like then acting to the benefit of all, even those who you oppose. To not just embrace your adversary, but to give them a gift, that is true meaning for the Holiday Season that is approaching. Well played Mr. Limbaugh, well played. Now please stop talking.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  5. 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 1:11 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Okay, it's is Marxism. Are you happy? Is that the newest conservaderp buzz-word?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  6. Frank

    When Jesus said it would be easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, does Rush think he was extolling the virtues of capitalism?

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

      jesus neve existed he is a fairy tale wake up

      December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  7. otis coblis

    Rush owns you libs..24/7

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

      Does he have a receipt?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  8. Johnny 5

    The Pope works for a bearded man in the sky that nobody has ever seen, which includes the Pope himself. Don't let Francis get you down Rush, he's got mental issues.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  9. floorme

    Doesn't matter how correct in theory He IS– Just by putting Linmbaugh's name to it you get the knee JERKS automatically discounting his statement–

    Oddly- The pope also called on rich people to share their wealth, this coming from the CEO of the largest world BUSINESS ( catholic church) seems a bit hypocritical– not to say the church doesn't do some PR shows, but it's engine run on the same fuel as capitalism- MONEY-

    December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  10. Alabama Liberal

    The worst thing about Limbaugh is that I don't think he believes a word that comes out of his own mouth. He has created a market niche and he's become a master at coming up with ridiculous statements to boost his ratings and revenues.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      I don't disagree with you. The problem is his followers DO think he's telling the truth.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  11. lewtwo

    I could not stomach the Catholic propaganda in the video, so I did not watch the entire thing but there seems to be no connection between CNN's video and the story about the "Voice of the GOP" ranting.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  12. Obvious

    Oh, LOOK. Suddenly, it's just great for a church leader to be involved in politics. Is there ANYTHING liberals aren't hypocrites about???

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

      Right ... and no suddenly its just terrible for a church leader to be involved in politics. Isn't there anything you conservatives aren't hypocritical about? Chill out dude, most people accept that church leaders have freedom of speech.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  13. Francis supporter

    Rush and his rich friends are just worried that the Pope is going to jeopardize their gravy train. Sorry, Rush, we see you exactly as you are.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  14. Snow

    The Pope is way too much in line with Jesus' teachings of how a christian should live life and behave towards others..

    No wonder Conservatives/GOP'ers/TeaParty'ers feel so threatened!!

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

      We are suppose to take care of our brothers (neighbors)....never in the Bible does it state that the government should take care of the poor. Read your Bibles, then you won't have to depend on what someone else tells you.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  15. Pepou27

    I laughed so much reading this that I spilled my coffee all over myself !!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  16. Alan

    Befuddled drug addict.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  17. Mark

    Is Fox News' Stuart Varney saying that the right-wing Christians, including the newly minted Billy Graham organization, have not already connected politics and religion?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  18. truth

    " it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" – Jesus

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  19. brucellosis

    @CNN ... really? Rush Limbaugh's opinion is really worthy of being the top story with a huge headline ?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  20. Kevin


    December 2, 2013 at 1:09 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.