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. John

    Rush would have supported Hitler.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  2. Grady

    Ratings slipping...falling into obscurity...say something provocative to cause righteous indignation and get your audience back...follow the "Ann Coulter" method of self marketing.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  3. M.E.

    Read the headline, immediately facepalmed and laughed my head off through the rest of the article.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  4. Lemon Talks

    liberals is jesus a fairy tale?

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

      Only the Mormon Jesus.

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

      Jesus was a liberal and it was the conservative Jews who killed him.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  5. silly2

    PULEEEZE! I thought this red-faced, blithering druggie had died.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  6. veep

    Money or Jesus; pick one and ONLY one.

    You can't serve both.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  7. Nick

    If the Pope is marxist, then that would mean Limbaugh is Fascist. These far left/right politics are getting ridiculous.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  8. javi

    Limbaugh.... so you liked him until he says something you dont like? Put in a diferent way; you do not like anyone that dont think like you.... right?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  9. ohmygod50!

    Ha ha ha. Rush is a fat junkie.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  10. MAMan

    Marxist? The Pope? Nope, just in touch with reality. Unlike you "Rush", and your overweight, wealthy elitist friends.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  11. Name*Tamara

    Rush you are a true idiot. I'm pretty sure followers are idiots too. You only cause in the world is to take the good words of great people and twist them into the sick person you are.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  12. Andrew

    The pope has every right to publish such an article to HIS followers in the Catholic Church. He is the head of a religious organization with membership exceeding 1 billion people. Rush is not a bad guy, but a guy trying to stir up water in a pond he don't belong in. I have no doubt the pope and his confidants studied the economic climate before issuing this. I have no doubt his arguments are worth examination and observation. Rush is included in the 2% of the world controlling the wealth, so consider the source!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  13. 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 please tell me how rush was wrong?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Jimbo Coles

      Shaddup already. Saying the same thing hundreds of times doesn't make it correct.

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

      And letting corporations run the world is Fascism.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  14. Kevin

    Why is CNN making a story of what Rush L. says about anything? Is this really news or newsworthy? I don't think the ramblings of some has been, fascist, right wing hack warrant this level of attention. Next time some idiot serves up absurd remarks save them for the opinion section if you must or maybe the Onion would be more like it.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • JLE

      RUSH, YOU SUCK! That is the pope you're talking about you pompous ass!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  15. veep

    If you ever needed proof the the US GOP is FAAAR of the decent human being track, Rush Limbaugh is it.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  16. Rolly

    Rush Limbaugh is the poorest excuse for a human being on U.S. airwaves today, will someone please shut him up?

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

    It's plain to see that Rush Limbaugh is still an idiot. The first pope in a long time that acts like he cares for the common man, and Limbaugh's got a problem with it.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  18. hughberto

    If this doesnt show you that christianity and capitalism are opposites, I don't know what will.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:27 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?

    explain how rush was wrong if you got the guts liberals

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

      I think you may want to actually read it again. Although I am secretly implying that you really need to read it in general, since you are flying by the seat of your pants with these off-the-wall comments.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  20. Anna


    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.