December 2nd, 2013
11:29 AM ET

Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. Ankonagirl

    Would someone please stuff a sock in that bafoons mouth!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Rush Limbaugh The BLOWHARD sux!


      Put a sock in it you pill poppin loud mouth!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Rush Limbaugh The BLOWHARD sux!

      Sorry Ankon, I meant to write that as a post to limbaugh, NOT YOU!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  2. Mark Causey

    I was surprised at how long it took for the Christian Far Right establishment to retaliate against the pope for his stance on "unfettered capitalism". I guess their chistianity only goes so far...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Doug

      Sadly, you're right.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
  3. Pilgrim1

    Those are pretty big words coming from a fat pompous drug-addict...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  4. Will

    It's pretty HOT in Hell Rush...ijs.. Maybe you might want to choose your battles a little better... Ya feel me?..

    December 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  5. jefecito

    Three words for Republicans that listen to this idiot. Latino Catholic Vote

    December 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  6. cindy

    rush limbaug is a drug addled antique with absolutely no importance whatsoever except for the few pea brains who listen to him

    December 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  7. Barack

    Rush Limbaugh preaches pure hatred.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  8. proshooter

    No Limbaugh you bigmouth, psycho, he's a Christian!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  9. Mark Gale

    Does any one care what this guy thinks anymore.
    I believe Rush has lost touch it must be the OXY.
    But then again GOOD Christians do not commit adultery or take drugs.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • cindy

      you are absolutely right, seems to me that all republicans claim to be christians but veryfew act like christians

      December 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Lynnard-FL

      What concerns me is those who are part of his hatefest. Some are dumb enough to think this buffoon speaks the truth!

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

        Some? All too many on the Right still think he's a genius.

        In the kingdom of the Blind, the One-eyed-man with a radio show is king.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  10. TubThumper

    Economic systems are separate from political systems. However capitalism has intertwined itself irrevocably with the Democratic form of government, much in the way that a Socialist government would have direct influence and control over an economic system. However the redistribution of wealth in a Capitalist/Democratic system is upward to keep the wheels of greed on the bus for the small percentage of private beneficiaries of public wealth.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  11. DB

    If you feed the poor they call you a Saint. If you ask why there must be so many poor people they call you a Communist.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • NelsonLeonard

      What Dom Helder Camara, Archbishop of Olina and Recife, Brazil, said was so true. Thank you for posting it. Probably both the Pope when he was a Cardinal and the Archbishop were questioned by those in power as to what they were doing or saying to help the poor. Both men certainly saw horrid examples of poverty. Maybe that is what drives the Pope to say what he is saying. He is now in a huge position of influence and he will do what he has always wanted to do. Draw attention to those who are struggling, more than many of us can begin to comprehend..

      December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Doug

      THANK YOU!

      December 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  12. HZ

    Jesus definitely didn't support being unkind to people but the bible also supports some aspects of capitalism like private ownership of property and requiring men to work if they want to eat. I'm sure Jesus would not be Republican if he were on earth right now. I'm not sure he'd be Democrat either tho. Probably all the leader types would hate him just like they did 2k years ago.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • DB

      That you believe only Capitalism allows for "private ownership of property" and that only Capitalism "requires men to work if they want to eat" only highlights how ignorant you are.

      Do you realize that 2000 years ago, Capitalism didn't even exist?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Citizen

      You are referencing St. Paul, in opposition to Jesus. This is a common error in what is called Paulian Christianity. Jesus never said if you don't work you dont eat. It is a philiosophy poorly thought through, since the retired and the very yonug would stave to death. But then, St. Paul never had a family.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
      • Lynnard-FL

        I believe that had more to do with those who are ABLE working. "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat." (2 Thes:3-10) NIV.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  13. tatanka

    I'll take the Pope's "Marxism" over Limbaugh's "ideology" any day.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  14. 66Biker

    Mentally deficient and morally bankrupt. Oh, we're talking about the the Pope? Yeah, him too.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • NelsonLeonard


      December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  15. kyler33

    And I so care what Rush thinks about nearly anything. Don't know how I'd function without his profound wisdom...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Tom

      Amen to that. Wow, how to tick off 75 million US citizens, some of whom probably supported Limbaugh before this remark.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  16. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    More nonsense from Rush Limbaugh, why does anyone still pay any attention to him?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Bill Burge

      Yes, apparently 15,000,000 of them each week.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • Lynnard-FL

        Scary! All those brown shirted, goose-stepping followers... wait! someone else in recent history had followers like that... hmmmmm.....

        December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  17. steve-0

    Uh...Jesus was a Marxist before they had a name for it. I guess the Pope is just a Christian..unlike Limbaugh and every member of the Tea Party.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Citizen


      December 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • John

      You, Sir, are correct in every word.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  18. Anbesaw

    The chemical ingestion by Rush had reached the dangerous level of making him be put at the mental hospital.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  19. I AM

    I didn't know Rush was still alive. His ideas have been dead for many years now.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  20. J Pucci

    No Rush, it's not called Marxism, it's called Christianity !

    December 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • John

      I could not have put it better myself. As long as there are right-thinking people like you, this country (and Christianity itself), still has a hope of surviving.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169
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.