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. indigo72

    oxycontin rush is a delusional and unbalanced individual; pity the fool.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  2. ArkansasGuy

    This is not HEADLINE news. Really CNN? You choose to have this story as your main headline.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  3. 2L

    I'm dumbfounded why anyone still listens to this guy

    December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • martiniano

      Because he is the Pope, that's why! (I'm joking, I assume you mean Gordo Limbaugh). 15 million people sometimes listen to Rush. 1 billion people listen to the Pope, not including the non-Christians like me who consider him a world leader and pay attention to what he says.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  4. P.FREDA


    December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  5. james

    if Jesus were alive today, he would be considered a marxist/socialist, deal with it republican "christians"

    December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  6. Tim in L.A.

    If the pope was marxist, he wouldn't believe in God. Rush is way too funny.....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  7. zenman5

    The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."
    I would like to see Rush try to argue this point successfully. He can't argue with the truth so he resorts to name calling and labeling. His "red herring" approach is the only play he has to get media attention. That's his approach - meanwhile the Pope will be praying for him I am sure.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  8. ralph

    Mr. Limbaugh seems to know very little about theology, Christian social ethics or Marxism. Marxism is based on a materialism that is the opposite of what the Pope wrote.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  9. Charlie Rocket

    Rush Limbaugh is the moral voice of America. LOL

    December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  10. briankendall

    I could be mistaken, but I think Jesus was a "protector of the poor," a father of orphans, if you will. Sounds like Pope Francis is getting back to what his savior preached, and making the church something it should have always been. It's unfortunate, but politics is the spectrum with which many, including Limbaugh, view all matters pertaining to economics. The church, on the other hand, should remain above the pettiness of politics. If the church doesn't protect those who are unprotected, then what is its purpose?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  11. jksu2

    "idolatry of money" would lead to a "new tyranny." – St. Paul did warn people in the Bible that the "love of money" is the root of all evil. He did not say that money is the root of all evil. Wealth, prestige, power, influence like all things is morally neutral. If you let such things control and direct your life, that's when problems start.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Dr Tod Policandriotes

      I agree. We unfortunately have a large number of people that LOVE money and will hurt others for it.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  12. 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 why wont you explain how rush was wrong?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • nullhogarth

      The question is not whether what the Pope said agrees with Marx, it is whether he is right, and whether his words reflect the teachings of Christ. I cannot imagine a Christ who would oppose this Pope's words or who would support Rush Limbaugh.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Dave Rogers

      Well, I am hardly a liberal... but this this guy who was talking about forced charity is espousing something you think the Vatican wants to do? I dunno... I'm not seeing your reasoning. You seem to be saying you're sure the Vatican wants forced charity, and that makes them socialists.

      Then it would be "the liberals" who deny that the Vatican wants forced charity? They're mentally ill by definition, of course...and the case that the pope may not want forced charity is a delusion by definition, no?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  13. Rob in Arizona

    No, Rush, no, Sarah..... Pope Francis is not a Marxist economist, he is a Christian pastor, and a good one. Christianity has a profound communal dimension. Read Acts: the first Christians gathered in prayer, held all things in common, and took care of the orphans and widows. It is anachronistic to label that as liberal or Marxist.... it's just Christian. Pope Francis knows it, because he is a student and teacher of the Gospel. Don't be surprised to learn from this successor of St Peter that making an idol of the free market economy, can leave one morally bankrupt.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      the pope is an expert in fairy tales

      December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  14. Beeto

    I guess that makes Jesus a Marxist too.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Harry Cline

      No, but he certainly was no neo-conservative.
      They hide behind God like the radical Muslim do.
      And the ones who preach the hate against America are as rich as the Limbaugh's and the Becks are and just as loud.

      Jesus was a humanist..

      December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  15. martiniano

    This Pope is a Godsent to Christianity and is the first Christian leader in my 56 years to express what I feel are Jesus' teachings. Jesus was very clear on his view of wealthy people and how the poor should be helped – saying it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven. There is no ambiguity in that statement. Rich people are not welcome in Heaven. Spin it all you want, it is not going to change what Jesus said. He told the story of the outsider who was the only person who would stop and help a person who had fallen – the wealthy upper crust of Jerusalem just walked past the person but a Samaritan – a person who practiced a religion different from Judaism – stopped and helped. These are very clear lessons from Jesus that I imaging Rush can not begin to accept.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  16. Name*chris

    Dont follow the pope follow jesus the pope is a common man with power he has to answer to jesus just like the rest of us

    December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • martiniano

      1 billion humans follow the Pope. He is one of the great world leaders. Whether you follow him or not is irrelevant to the story – does the Pope lead his 1 million people towards Christianity or away from Christianity?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  17. weedouthate

    Recent insights coming out of Israel are finding that Karl Marx just might have been influenced by the Jewish Kabbalah and that his entire model, could actually have been programed into the Plan of Creation, once humankind would have learned to weed out hate. In touch with our spiritual roots, we would draw, and surge spiritual sustenance and that the act of giving would be a heavenly act of completing the spiritual circuit. The battle today is not between Liberals and Conservatives but rather with fundamentalist trickle down hate mongers who promise sparks of redemption for craving souls, AND people who decide that enough is enough by praying to root out, composting, and processing their inner weeds in favor of tapping roots beyond the layers of cultural and religious bias, prejudice, into the source of spirituality itself. If we could only learn to to drill for the kind of spiritual oil the way we drill for mineral oil, then spirituality might just gusher and light up our souls and beyond. And this would truly be a Holiday Miracle.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  18. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  19. 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?

    liberal where are you hiding??? how was rush wrong?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Stop paying your taxes Uncle Sam sends you to the Star and Stripey Gulag.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • That's What Jesus Would Do

      So taking money from people through monopolies, coercion, false pretense and exploitation to redistribute to smaller, wealthy groups of people is known as?... ahh yes, REAGANOMICS.

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

      You seem to be unaware of the story of Ananias and Sapphira. It is in Acts. Read it and learn that Christians were asked to give up everything they owned to join the Church.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Adrian ROlando

      By this logic every government that collects taxes is Marxist. Get a grip.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  20. Jennifer

    Mr. Limbaugh cannot begin to understand Pope Francis' message, and never will. He doesn't have an ounce of kindness or compassion in his greedy, self-serving "heart".

    December 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Cholesterol, compassion – same thing, right?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:25 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.