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. Chris

    It's too bad his brain can't keep up with the words that come out of his mouth.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  2. ObiJuan

    On one hand I am shocked by his comments, but on the other, I'm glad he is showing his true colors so people realize what an AH he is.

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

      Juan.....can I see your papers please. Oh your not legally in the US.? Then shut your fin mouth!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
      • adam

        One would think that a card-holding, English speaking American such as yourself would know the difference between "your" and "you're".

        December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  3. bearitstrong

    I'm sure that Pope Francis is VERY worried about what Rush thinks.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  4. steve

    believe it or not...Christ is neither a socialist or a capitalist. Christ is a theist. Heaven is a theocratic society ruled by one God and no one own's anything in heaven because all of the things in heaven and on earth is owned by God. We're just borrowing it. The pope is neither the word of God or the representation of God. He is a common man, annointed by common men to 'represent' God. God is represented by one man...Christ! The pope is a descent man who wants to be like Christ. But he's not the 'word' of God. The word of God died on the Cross and rose the 3rd day. You don't earn your way to heaven by believing in the pope. You are gifted Life and a way to heaven when you repent and believe that Christ is the son of God, the word, the son of Judah, the line of David, the lamb of God, the alpha & omega, the prince of peace and the savior of man.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Name*chris

      Yes lord you said it perfect thats why i think he is the false prophet only jesus he is a common man

      December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  5. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  6. Big_D

    Too bad they didn't use his own sentencing guidelines when they busted him. This drug addled hate monger should be in jail.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  7. Robin

    When will Rush do the world a favor and die from a heart attack!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  8. larry the conquerer

    Rush has made a living off of shouting while not knowing what hes talking about.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  9. Not a communist

    Funny thing about Marxism.

    Communism was never the answer, yet the 1% in our country keep linking Marx to communism.

    The 1% never acknowledge how Karl Marx also said CAPITALISM IS NOT THE ANSWER. Everything he predicted about capitalism is coming to fruition right now. Capitalism eventually leads to capital flowing into fewer and fewer hands until you get a small group of elite running things.

    Too bad his answer was the failure known as communism.

    Anyway, for all the ignorant out there. Karl Marx did predict the failure of capitalism like we are seeing right now.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  10. Diane

    It's appalling that Rush is still on the airwaves spitting out his garbage to humanity.

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

    Rush "to judgement" Limbbaugh strikes again.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  12. adam

    I've got news for you, Rush. Jesus wasn't a capitalist.

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

      And god made Adam & Eve...not Adam & Steve....Fa$&

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

        Interesting comment. I'll be sure to tell my wife of you thoughts. Also, FYI, I am an atheist, except, unlike many people, I have actually read the Bible, instead of going by what someone else told me it said. I don't believe that Jesus was holy, but I also don't think he would support many of he beliefs of his current followers.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  13. Shocked!

    Who would have thunk that Pope Francis would be generous and in line with the teachings of Christ, and that Limbaugh would be completely selfish in line with the teachings of Pope Ayn Rand?

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

    The Evangelical right in America with there multimillion dollar mega churches but as one poster made note can't seem to afford to run a food bank.
    You know who is running the food banks secular average people from within the community.

    And some believers who don't take to a stage to proclaim their faith they show it.

    And as another poster made comment Francis is not saying making money is bad, what he is saying is that when 2% of the worlds population holds all the wealth it will eventually lead to chaos and turmoil. Who really benefits then ?

    The distance now is so wide we are turning good and decent people into criminals, is you quality of life any better if you have to go to work carrying a gun when you leave your home.
    When you lower the quality of life for everyone around you it affects your quality of life as well.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  15. ANDY

    Rush needs to go back and read his Bible and read what Jesus has o say about helping the poor and needy.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      where does jesus say to force people to do charity?

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

        where did Andy say it did? Are you afraid someone might force you to be a nice person and care for others?

        December 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  16. DavidM

    Why do you (CNN) continue to showcase this man's, ignorance and hate? No one cares what he says.

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

      Liberals don't believe in God so why do you care what Rush says? Oh that's right....just another distraction from the failed Obamacare.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  17. Foxxy

    And Rush Limbaugh is preaching pure Vicodinism. Take this nutcase off the air already.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  18. macroamerica

    Limbaugh continues to be one fat, steaming turd.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  19. John farren

    Limbaugh has chosen his god. Roast pig anyone?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  20. Dan Gray

    Rush and Sarah Palin should change there names to Mr & Mrs Limburger. Both there opinions stink.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      two names that make liberals go bonkers

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

      Can I get an "AMEN" on that???

      December 2, 2013 at 1:26 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.