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. Fr33th1nk3r

    Nothing can be more satisfying (or hilarious) for a non-believer such as myself, than watching the Pope, a presumptuous and unneeded political officer for God, arguing his version of a 2000-year old fantasy with an imbecile, on his more authoritarian version of the same collection of fables.
    All this "God" has to do, if he is real, is step in and tell one side or the other who is right, and who is not serving His will....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      I am absolutely CERTAIN, that IF this "Jesus" is real– that he would take sides with a fat and pompous airbag, who criticizes drug addicts, but got caught shopping for Oxycontin doctors, and whose image of a cigar-smoking wiseacre is the very picture of bigotry in America. He supports keeping the poor.......well....poor.....and opposes any shift in philosophy that favors the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  2. Smitty

    ...And apparently, so was Jesus.

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


    December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  4. 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?

    liberals how is rush wrong on this?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • !3Directors

      Changing the rules of the game so that you are constantly on top is perverse.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Rose Harrigan

      Where exactly is this "forced taking and redistributing" in the Pope's message? As far as I am concerned, he is doing nothing more than what Jesus Christ would do and say if he walked with us today. You heathens who don't believe in anything always seem to have a lot to say about what others believe.
      Give it a rest. Captialism is making more of us poorer everyday. My portfolio has not recovered since the debacle of the 2000 election. I do not favor marxism or communism, but the same opportunities that favor the wealthy should be available to everyone. In many cases, people who do not have enough money to buy food or clothing are paying the same sales taxes as people who have no problems buying those items. 10% sales tax to a poor family is a direct forced taking of $1 our of every $10 poor families have. National flat sales taxes and value added taxes are no better.
      Oh yes! Rush Limbaugh has rotten cheese for a brain and his mutterings and ruminations don't make any more sense than many of our representatives and senators do. He and they are lobbyists for the rich and corporations that are owned by the rich. Small shareholders are extremely "small".

      December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
      • CharlySage

        Here, here, well said!

        December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  5. JohnM

    Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant.

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


      December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  6. Nothienuf

    These two should go on a comedy tour like Abbott and Costello. No offense to people of Roman Catholic faith, but seriously (pun intended)... what a tandem! I think if the Pope just spoke with Rush instead of praying to GOD all of our problems would be solved.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  7. TomShelton

    Next thing you know Rush will be calling the Pope a PINO ... pope in name only. Rush should have put down the mic long ago.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Jay

      "But Limbaugh, whose program is estimated to reach 15 million listeners, called the Pope's comments sad and unbelievable."

      What's sad and unbelievable is that Rush has 15 million listeners...

      December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  8. ART

    Hey Rush no more OXY for you

    December 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  9. jinx9to88

    People talk how Obama is splitting this country then you hear the clowns Glen Beck and Rush talk. All Rush and Glen talk about is hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Moses

      so to differ with the Pope is to hate him?????????????????????? my my

      December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      • Matthew Grant

        He did not state that you need to re-read the comment or improve your reading comprehension.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • Earthling

        Not really paying attention, are you?

        December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  10. Bewildered

    Why is CNN giving this Limbaugh front page headline – a neurotic and delusional and looks like he is about to explode

    December 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Doug

      CNN would rather put Rush on the homepage than discuss anything negative about Obama.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  11. JohnRJohnson

    You may not like Catholicism. You may even dislike this Pope. But you have to think for a moment about why Rush Limbaugh is attacking him. Limbaugh is attacking Pope because he's Catholic or because he hates the Catholic Church. He's attacking the Pope because the Pope has made numerous public statements which have called out the flaws of capitalism. He's attacking the Pope because the Pope has expressed sympathy and support for the poor and elderly. THAT'S what had made Limbaugh mad. Limbaugh's life's work has been dedicated to preserving the status quo. Keep the rich wealthy and the poor poverty-stricken. Do nothing to hurt the rich and do nothing to help the poor. Anybody who expresses a philosophy opposed to that is a "marxist". The saddest thing of all is that Limbaugh has millions of sycophants who like what they're hearing.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • JohnRJohnson

      I meant to say "Limbaugh is NOT attacking Catholicism".

      December 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • weix giekfrink


      December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Matthew Grant

      I agree, some people in this country will just mark you as a communist or a Marxist if you criticizes the status quo. Which just shows a weak pathetic mind who mind is locked in the current paradigm.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  12. Seth Hill

    Mark 13:14 "When you hear The Awful Horror broadcasting from a high tower (let the listener understand), run to the mountains!" (New Cyberpunk Translation).

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  13. David Thornton

    My, my. But I guess Rush sees no issue with giving a Trillion Dollars (think about that for a second) for the hero capitalists on Wall Street who have pretty muck bankrupted the greatest country on earth. Since Rush feels the Pope is "non compus mentus", we shall have to sit back and wait for the hedge fund managers to speak up for the poor. Of course, it is all their own fault anyway, Right Rush?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  14. ed

    Why do I care what any of you think??????? These comment sections are ridiculous.

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

    The Pope is correct. But it doesn't take divine inspration to say what he said. Any mortal human being with a concern about his fellow man feels the same way.

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

    So now Rush knows better than the Pope. Rush always thought he was God, and now literally.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  17. Mandor

    You know, as an atheist for the last 25 years... this is the first Pope who I actually respect and who I wouldn't mind if he was right about things. Limbaugh trashing him is nothing more than a ringing endorsement to my ears.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Matthew Grant

      I am an atheist too and I have to say I agree with this pope. Even though I think he should start looking at the mass holding of wealth the catholic church holds and maybe help the poor more with all that wealth. But at least it is a start

      December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  18. get out

    HAHAHAHAHA...Who listens to this idiot anymore, know he's calling the pope a marxist?

    I guess Rush a marxist communist when he lived at home as a kid and didn't work or pay for anything, how does this moron still have a job??

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  19. charlesjames2013

    My, my, I guess Russ needs a little spiritual media share by getting his name next to the pope, maybe this will boost his ratings. Capitalism at its best, what Russ lauds is what others have observed namely, "The minimum wage has halved in value over the past 3 decades, while corporations just go on profiting year after year and the wealth divide is the greatest in the US over any other nation.Nearly half the population of the US lives below the poverty line while a small fraction of the population has seen their wealth grow by 500% in real terms over the past 3 decades." All the pope is saying is that the mantra of capitalism is "in greed we trust", not God. I think Russ would do well reading Marx less and the Bible more.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  20. beevee

    Who is this moron Limbaugh and what does he know about religion at the level of Pope. he should shut up and not criticize the Pope. Why does the media even bother to publicize this stupid's opinions and who cares what he thinks.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:19 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.