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. Jules

    Pope Francis answers to a much higher authority than Rush Limbaugh. I'm sure he doesn't give a whit about what Limbaugh has to say and neither do I.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  2. Lela

    What can be expected from people that believe they are better then the Pope and the poor ?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  3. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    ....you think they'll be able to blame this on Obama ?

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

      Yes, they will try to blame President Obama. They, conservatives, have been doing this since his first election night. We have to be mindful of that.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  4. Susan

    Rush is an obnoxious ignoramus; everyone please ignore him ... my vain hope that he'll just go away.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  5. DustyOnes

    As a Catholic and Catechist I will tell you that Rush is right in a base aspect. There is a Socialist foundation in the Catholic faith.The care for the poor, equality, healthcare, human dignity, fair pay and working environments, and charitable giving by wealthy people and Nations to help those in need .Generosity is called for by the Church, not Marxism or Communism. The best one-two punch in history was JPII and Reagan bringing down the Soviet Union.

    Wealth Distribution is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. Charity is. Some people get this wrong and go over the edge. Hopefully the Pope hasn't. He spent 20 years fighting Liberation Theology in South America. I will read all 50,000 pages.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  6. Fug Xu

    "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

    He's just expressing the truth from one side of the coin. We are victims of extremes from both ends, can't have 2% control everything, but then again you can't have someone distribute all the wealth till everything is "equal." There needs to be equilibrium or everything just turns to excrement.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Fug Xu

      Not equilibrium, synergy. meh.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  7. Tommy

    Money is only valuable because we let it. If we wanted to, we can ignore currency and turn every banker and Rush idolatry into immediate reality check.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  8. Lemon Talks

    a liberal told me jesus was a fairy tale?

    is this true?

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

      Probably. If I know Humans and their love to exaggerate the truth in order to gain power and influence...i would assume the Bible is the largest exaggeration on planet Earth. Aliens in the universe might have crazier followings but we haven't discovered that yet/

      December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  9. Greg

    Popes have been preaching for years about helping the poor. I am a former Catholic who does not believe the pope speaks for the divine creator but he doe have the right to sermonize as he wishes.

    Limbaugh, who is worth hundreds of millions from huckstering things like Snapple, is the lap dog of greedy capitalism in the US, disguised as populism. I think he has contempt for the working man in America.

    Neither man speaks for me but it is common sense that if too many people get too poor, then we will have another French revolution. In that case Rush's gated compound may not save him. We need a few reforms like heath care for all in some manner, education reform that matches people to needed job skills (not French literature or Latino studies) and tax breaks for those who don't offshore jobs.

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

      Limbaugh thinks he is holier than JESUS.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  10. JohnChristian in Michigan

    I have been a Christian all my life of 50+ years. Jesus teachings are not that of Capitalism. He does not condemn Capitalism or any other form of Government but he does condemn mans behavior. Greed, sloth, hate, lies and self gratification are those that he condemns.

    How does anyone claiming to be Christian listen to such a person?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  11. Ed

    RUSH SHUT UP! When are they going to take you off the air. You have nothing to say. You are a fat ugly slob.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  12. Lemon Talks

    a liberal told me the RCC does bad things like hide child molesters, is this true?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • jill sing

      No the church did not hide the bad men – the leaders did and I would think that this Pope is trying to change that?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  13. skb8721

    Someone should ask Limbaugh if Jesus would have supported the dog-eat-dog, cut-throat capitalism he is defending.

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

    Thank God I'm no longer a Republican. And I mean it. Thank you, God. The Republican party has lost all sense of morality.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  15. jesustheman

    call me a proud Marxist Catholic, then!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  16. Edward

    By all means, Rush, keep bashing the Pope. Every blow you strike drives the wedge between the the GOP and the Reagan Democrats every deeper. You may very well drive conservative Catholics back into the Democrat fold.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  17. boocat

    And we should care what this windbag says because??????

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  18. rush is a toolbag

    He has to be paid to make the statements he makes no one in their right mind believes or listens to him. I said no on in their right mind obviously a good portion of this country is not in the right mind.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  19. paouser70

    rush is just plain dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly on a daily basis – not to mention hateful, nasty and a blight on humankind.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  20. icu

    Need to start a drive to remove this guy from the airway. Their is enough pollution out there that we don't need anymore from him. God have mercy on his soul. Stop listen to all the station that he is on. We have enough. Take him off the air or we will put your station out of business

    December 2, 2013 at 1:30 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.