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. notacatholic

    Just as this media personality grasps for constant soundbites as often as possible; too shall we recognize that he does so solely for his thirst for fame,relevance and his personal Capitol gain (silver coins); not goodwill as the bible says (sounds familiar to me). Only he shall be judged for his remarks. I'll pray for your soul Rush. Luke 18:25 I'm not a Catholic but Rush sure sounds like a purchased man speaking against a religious leader as if Rush was one himself. Shame on you Rush; some opinions you should keep to yourself.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  2. BO

    The pope is a mortal man. His krap strinks and he puts his pants on one leg at a time. Half of you peons don't know what Marxism is or you would agree.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  3. 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 1:12 pm |
  4. barbarabarham

    When are people going to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. No one should take either one seriously. They are nothing more than entertainers.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  5. Mabel Schwartz

    More drivel from the overstuffed, self-righteous drug abuser.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  6. jam8canpops

    Rush needs to drag his drug saturated brains back into the pit toilet from which he came.This imbecile is an embarrassment to the human race.The idiot has no shame!

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

    First and foremost, Marx was a Satanist and the Pope is a true Christian. A Nothing like Marx's visions.
    Here are some of M.'s writing:
    "The hellish vapors rise and fill the brain,
    Till I go mad and my heart is utterly changed.
    See this sword? The prince of darkness sold it to me. –
    For me beats the time and gives the signs.
    Ever more boldly I play the dance of death.
    Yet I have power within my youthful arms
    To clench and crush you [i.e., personified humanity] with tempestuous force,
    While for us both the abyss yawns in darkness.
    You will sink down and I shall follow laughing,
    Whispering in your ears, “Descend, come with me, friend.”

    December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  8. Hahahahahahahahhaha

    I cannot stop laughing. Rush, you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means. I'm so thankful for this Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • BO

      What is your definition?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  9. a mom

    "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."-Matthew

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  10. NCIndependent

    Ahem, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, what the Pope is preaching are the basic teachings of Christ. To us Catholics, he is a breath of fresh air and the arbiter of much-needed reform to get back to the roots of Christianity. No one is going to listen to you two irrelevant blowhards.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  11. Nic_Driver

    Mr. Limbaugh may have a point, except for the intent. The pope is asking for people to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do and Rush is objecting because he loves money; he's the personification of the pope's message. I guess it shows you where Rush's priorities lie, money over people, capitalism over compassion. It seems to be a wide-spread, predominately right wing malady, one that further exposes them for what they are, the party of hate and division.

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

      I couldn't have said it better myself. You are completely right.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  12. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  13. ryanwin

    Rush is right. Not once did Jesus ever advocate a government to control people and force them to give to the poor. He only encouraged with words and kindness. If you are forced to be charitable, there is no personal growth.

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

      Noone is forcing anyone to do anything.

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

        If not, then fine, but that really appears to be what the Pope is advocating.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  14. T

    .......so the choice is .......Rush, or the POPE?...........................I think I trust the POPE about 14 TRILLION TIMES MORE.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  15. Big_D

    I can't stop laughing that the GOP is being fed what most have known all along. The GOP is immoral.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  16. bilbo

    Old news....see Liberation Theology.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  17. mark

    Limbaugfh's photo next to the Pope? Does anyone else find this offensive all by itself?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  18. Brian Smith

    Pretty sure Rush was on high on his pain killers again when he said that about Pope Francis.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  19. JAC

    The article said that the Pope is sending folks from the Vatican into Rome to deliver lunch. Maybe he can send lunch to old " El Rushbo:". But Rush would probably NOT accept the package because: It is from a leftist-liberal-pinko foreigner."

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  20. tom

    "Sad?" "Unbelievable?" Yes, Rush, you are.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:11 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.