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. Sharon

    What's sad, is that CNN has Rush's deluded rambling as the top story on their page!

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

    Black women are "nappy headed ho's" and "the Pope is a communist". But some companies still pay to keep this idiot on the air. I would boycott any company that supported Rush to begin with.

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

      SUX to be you. Rush makes over $30 MILLION a year. He must be doing something correctly.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  3. Andrew

    Jesus was a liberal.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • kws11

      No. When he thought someone needed help, HE helped them. He ASKED others to help as they could, he did not ORDER them. Much more of a conservative model than a liberal one.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • Hugh Jass

        Neither liberal or conservative has any meaning when you talk about the politics of the Roman Empire, you know. Jesus did recommend that people render unto Caesar what was Caesar's and unto God what was God's, but He broke the law when He wouldn't let them stone the woman taken in adultery, and He was eventually put to death for speaking against the government. Politically, He was a King in a land that already had an Emperor. Nothing democratic about Jesus; He gave orders and expected obedience.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  4. Fiona

    As in all things, consider the source.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  5. leah1026

    It's sad that CNN gives this blowhard any publicity. As with most right wing ideologues he's completely taken what the Pope said out of context. Over the last 30 years we've seen dramatic increase in corporatism in the world. "Trickle down" economics was sold as a benefit for all, but instead we can see now that's it's only been a vast redistribution of well upwards to the super-rich. We need to go back to to regulated economy we had from 1945-1980. Then everyone prospered, not just the super-rich. The situation we have now today is untenable. 50% of American citizens or in poverty or near poverty. Progressive taxation and a higher minimum wage will go a long ways towards restoring balance. And THAT is what the Pope was speaking about: Balance.

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


      December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  6. Mopery

    As an ignorant slack-jawed inbred W.A.S.P. truck driver, I base all of my political and social opinions on what Rush Limbaugh says on the AM radio.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Mutt Rmoney

      Yeah, I'm stupid too, and I never vote without checking to see what Rush wants me to do.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  7. ktappe

    Is there a single person who listens to Rush anymore? If so, please speak up because 100% of the comments I have seen here so far side with the Pope. I'm serious.

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

      Come on! If they could read they would have never listened to Rush to begin with.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • kws11

      That's because the liberals have so damaged our job market and economy, that most people really DO want the wealth of rich people taken away and given to them. After all "THEY didn't build that!". According to Obama, HE did, and according to the Catholic church, God did.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • American7

      "But Limbaugh, whose program is estimated to reach 15 million listeners," –the article above.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Kay

      I don't listen to Rush but I agree. The Pope does it right. The problem is that more negative people want to have their voice heard than positive people. :o) Too bad because some of them probably have wonderful things to say! :o) Thank you, BTW, for adding yours in. It made me happy to something not negative for a change. :o)

      December 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
      • Kay

        Nevermind, I thought you were being supportive of a wonderful man. 🙁 My bad.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Mutt Rmoney

      Don't say nothing bout my rush or I"ll punch you inna mouth

      December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  8. William

    What Pope Francis is espousing is already laid out in novels - king of Bat'ha by Hashim - and sequel - Tales from the East by Ivanhoe. Both based on direct experiences

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  9. palintwit

    Sarah Palin supporters are the very definition of low information voters. They watch Fox, a proven source of misinformation. Studies show Fox watchers think they are well informed but are factually deficient.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • kws11

      I think the president has become our primary source of misinformation.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
      • Marcia

        Why are you bringing Obama into this-keep your mind on the subject and give your hate of Obama a rest-He is NOT the source of evil and does NOT even belong in this discussion of Pope and Idiot

        December 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
        • KIA

          I do think Obama is evil!

          December 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
      • KIA

        I agree

        December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  10. kws11

    Rush should pick his battles, and so should CNN. My world isn't exactly rocked by the news that churches think rich people should be generous, and may have trouble getting into heaven (that "camel through the eye of a needle" thing). At the same time, have YOU been to The Vatican? That place isn't exactly operated on an austerity program. FACTS: Rich people could be more generous, the Catholic church thrives on opulence and luxury, and Rush Limbaugh is a conservative. So, what's new here?

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

    How is Limbaugh still alive? I'd had assumed he'd either overdosed on painkillers or eaten himself to death with his gluttony.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  12. BO

    DEFINITION: The political and economic philosophy of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in which the concept of class struggle plays a central role in understanding society's allegedly inevitable development from bourgeois oppression under capitalism to a socialist and ultimately classless society.

    Fits the Pope to a Tee.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  13. Roland

    By the way any believing Christian that reads the bible knows that Jesus was basically a Marxist he said things like the rich man has as much chance as reaching heaven as a camel going through the eye of a needle and he said things like give away all your possessions and follow me as I go wandering around in the desert.

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

      Golly. Don't quote the Bible out of context you M0R0N.

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

      Glad to see you are reading the Bible, Roland, and not just the parts that tell people how to get rich. Yes, Jesus is closer to a Marxist than to a conservative Republican. I'm not sure why self-proclaimed religious people aren't paying attention to those messages. I'm glad Pope Francis is.

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

      Marx was 200o years away when Jesus was speaking and reminding the rich to take care of the poor-kind of like me supporting the food stamp program to keep American children from going to bed hungry(1 of 6)- I don't think Rush will ever see heaven or even believe in Jesus-

      December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • KIA

        Marcia – Do not judge. Only God knows who will and will not go to Heaven!

        December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  14. Polkovnik

    Pope Francis is teaching what Jesus taught. If Francis is a Marxist, than so was Jesus. Perhaps Rush didn't quite grasp the teachings of the Gospels when he converted to Catholicism.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Mutt Rmoney

      i thot rush was a Jack mormom

      December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  15. Leona

    Why is Limbaugh's opinion of the Pope is CNN homepage worthy?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  16. johnQ

    Everything Rush does is to generate money for himself. He thinks making critical comments about the pope will get him noticed. The sorry thing is it will and he will continue to get support from his sponsors because people tune him in to hear the next stupid thing he will say. CNN just made this idiots day and his pocket book bigger. The best way to get rid of him is to ignore him.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  17. Carolyn

    The catholic church has always gone with the flow especially when their coffers get low, but it doesn't mean I like Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  18. Josephine

    Put a sock in it Rush!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • BO

      Truth hurts.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  19. T

    .So really, very well put, Rushie........................The choice obviously is to be a good Christian, a good Catholic.............you cannot be a follower of Rush and the Tea Party mantra.......................

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  20. nwcommenter

    The pope is right.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:14 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.