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. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  2. 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?

    how was rush wrong please explain liberals

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Grand

      No , it does not. The Pope was also talking about the world, not the US specifically.
      Get over yourself. You, and Rush, are not special.

      You didn't read it , you are just another partisan hack repeating everything Rush said.

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

      No, the tenet of Marxism is that the state should be the one to do this and not the Church. Do you not recall the "Religion is the opiate of the masses" line from the Manifesto? But at it's root, Christianity is about mercy and charity in the name of Jesus. Do you not actually read the Bible? Do you just rely on mega-church Cliff Notes versions?

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

      It most certainly does not talk about forced charity. Why would you make up such a lie?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  3. ireporter.sean@gmail.com

    Rush LimBLAH!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  4. Joe

    Why is this front and center @CNN? Rush Limbaugh is not news nor are his comments important....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  5. Sylvia

    I I cannot believe that you are giving Limbaugh more coverage basically than the Pope. What a criminal he is. These stupid Rush followers are of course the same people that follow idiots like Sara Palin. Rubbish. All the people that are criticizing the pope don't even know what Christianity is suppose to be about. Why cover such aberrations of our society? Why not try to elevate your "news"? Why do you have to compete so much with Fox? Disgusting. This is not what we want to hear during our Xmas season. Focus on the positive... not the Walmart tramplings, racists, and hate mongers. If you ignore them, maybe they will disappear.

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

      "I cannot believe that you are giving Limbaugh more coverage basically than the Pope. "

      How did you come to that conclusion? In the last few days, the pope has had four stories, Rush has one.

      Not that I really care about either, but really.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  6. rosie

    China launched a moon mission today and THIS is what CNN thinks is news????

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

      Which story is generating more comments?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • martiniano

      The China rocket launch was news last week.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  7. RobertC

    Hmmm, what everything I have been hearing from the Pope are the teachings of Jesus. I guess Jesus is a Marxist, then.
    And, I guess, then, that Rush isn't Christian,

    December 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  8. Lemon Talks

    is the pope an expert in fairy tales liberals?

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

      I don't know, but you seem to be a cut and paste expert.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • martiniano

      Lemon, did you read Acts like I suggested? Ananias and Sapphira. You cannot call yourself Christian unless you have read and processed the Bible for yourself. You have not, obviously. So how can you consider yourself Christian?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  9. skb8721

    Limbaugh will be remembered poorly by history; not so Francis.

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

      In 2000 years Francis' name will be in the roll of Christian leaders. In 20,000 too. Limbaugh will be forgotten in 100.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  10. Tony H

    What you expect from a Jesuit?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  11. paul reynolds

    Why is that Drug Addict WartHog still Relevant..!??

    The Fake Messiah has a grand total of ZERO actual Political Credentials!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  12. Lemon Talks

    god created adam and eve not adam and steve

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

      Since you dragged this tired cliche out, it actually was Adam and Steve. Eve was fashioned from Adam's rib, so she had Adam's DNA, making her genetically a male.

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


        December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  13. Re-Horakhty

    Rush stands for one person's interest...his own. No shocker here. On the other side, the Pope is right, trickle down does not work; and he should know. The Vatican has enormous coffers, and gives peanuts to charity compared to what they rake in. The 'Church' is exactly like the very 'rich' person who should allegedly do more to help others.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  14. chicagoboyrn

    No takes this jerk/bully seriously anymore...C'mon you have to be a pure m0ron to even listen to this guy. The things any would do for a 15 minute shot of fame! Sad Rush....Sad!

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

      I like comments.....

      Do you like Obamacare mess??? I think you do.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  15. Lemon Talks

    any liberals here think the catholic church does bad things?

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

      Did you learn to hate from Jesus? What verses taught you to be so full of hatred and anger towards your neighbor? Was it when Jesus said "Screw your neighbor like you screw your lightbulb."? Of maybe when he said "Do unto others as is in your best interest, for they are nothing but trash upon the earth but you, Lemon, are most special."?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  16. Steffie

    Long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, there was another man who spoke up against inequality. His name: Jesus Christ. I guess Mr. Limbaugh would qualify him, too, as just another marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  17. karek40

    Jesus said, The poor you have with you always. The implication of that statement is man/government cannot eliminate the poor. Paul also said they don't work they don't eat. Perhaps we should relook at our welfare programs and create government work sites similar to the WPA of yesteryear.

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

      We'll have birth defects & diseases with us always as well – should we give up medicine?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • martiniano

      You are cherry picking Jesus' words and taking them out of context. Here is what he said: But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11"For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12"For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial.…

      Do you see that Jesus was speaking up for the poor, saying stop harassing her and pay attention to me because I am on my way out – at least this poor woman did something to help me while you stand about harassing her.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Iowan

      Jesus also said, "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of Heaven"

      I think you may be equating poor with lazy, and that is just not a fair assesment. There are many hard-working people out there who also happen to be poor. As long as we have a free economy, we will always have the poor. That does not mean we should not help them as best we can.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  18. James

    I am tired of the "communism vs. capitalism" cold war mentality. It has locked us into a false paradigm for decades. Practical solutions, not ideology, should dictate decision makings. The reality is that the high level of poverty is bad. It is ethically degenerate and it drags down society economically. Despite this we fools debating whether or not we should address this problem because it does or doesn't fit some constructed ideology they cling to.

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

      Very well expressed. Thank you!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:36 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?

    liberals expalin how he was wrong???

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

      Are you guys supposed to be the Christians?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Are you going to ape this sh1t on every page on comments in this story?

      Go ahead and stop paying taxes. See what happens when you stop letting the big bad government take your hard earned money in order to re-distribute it.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • TL13

      I second this

      December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  20. mc2323

    Well, it's clear which of these two men believes his word is infallible.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:28 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.