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. rush is a toolbag

    eat it cnn you cant censor everyone

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  2. Jonah

    Rush nailed it. I am catholic, but also sad to see the pope has bought into the Marxism clap trap. Marxism/communism just does not work.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Dr Tod Policandriotes

      Based on what? Failed corrupt governments. Yes, those ideals do not work when you have arrogant humans running things that steal the money blind so they can live high on the hog. In theory, they work fine, but with selfish humans in charge they WILL NOT WORK.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  3. RUkidding


    Two separate things. Not sure why a puesdo-"political commentator" makes judgements about religion. Render to Rush what is far rightwing and leave the rest of the world alone. Hold your rants to what you think you know about, misinformed wingnut hate speak.

    Leave the people who suggest caring for the poor, being more tolerant, and sharing your blessing alone.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  4. Helivet

    How would such a committed fascist understand what a Marxist is? Rush needs to change his last name to Goebbels since he functions as a self-appointed "Rightwing Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda".

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  5. John Pacella

    Rush "Blockhead" Limbaugh, how can anyone even listen to him, much less assign any credibility to his rants?
    In case you didn't know:
    1. Limbaugh has been married four times. One of those was officiated by another right wing ideolue, Clarence Thomas. That marriage ended in divorce as well.
    2. Blockhead was arrested for illegal drug possession. "In April 2006 Prosecutors explained that the charges were brought after they discovered he received about 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months, at a pharmacy near his Palm Beach mansion."
    3. He continued to buy drugs illegally using fake prescriptions: "In June 2006, Limbaugh was detained by drug enforcement agents at Palm Beach International Airport. Customs officials confiscated Viagra from Limbaugh's luggage as he was returning from the Dominican Republic. The prescription was not in Limbaugh's name."

    The man is a liar and a criminal. Flush Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  6. Brianna

    Okay so correct me if i'm wrong...because this is an atheist quoting the bible here...but if I recall "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Is that just one of the MILLIONS of things we're choosing to ignore from the bible? Just toss that over with that whole Leviticus said we can't get haircuts thing....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  7. charmacraven

    Why is this being reported and putting Rush on the front page? Who listens to him? He is a waste of air and space.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  8. judy clay

    That does it! I'm through with CNN. The fact that Rush Limbaugh's opinion of the pope is your headline at 1:30PM on 12/2/13 is not only idiotic, but condescending and pandering. Everyone associated at CNN should be ashamed for having anything to do with this. No one cares about Limbaugh except the FAUX "readers" you are desperately trying to recruit. I'm done with the lot of you and will be happy to pass this info along to others so they won't waste their time with your terrible web site. 'News', yeah right.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • david hellstrom

      bbc.com is a bit better..

      December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  9. blf83

    Is Rush back on his drugs?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  10. Lemon Talks

    a liberal told me jesus was a fairy tale and that christians pray to majick men in sky?

    is this true?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  11. Steve - Dallas

    CNN: With everything that's going on in the world, why is THIS drivel your lead story??

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  12. Walt Heisenberg

    Psst, hey Rush, Jesse's got your fix in the usual place.


    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  13. narutogrey

    Why is Rush only going after this Pope? Pretty much every single Pope (even before modern times) has preached something similar.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  14. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  15. 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 explain?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  16. Rae

    I think it's time we put the appropriate label on Rush Limbaugh. He's a shock jock. The conservative answer to Howard Stern. No more, no less. And should be considered with the same amount of seriousness. Which is none at all.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  17. Allen

    By what or whose authority is Mr. Rush Limbaugh qualified to criticize the Pope I think people should try and adopt Pope Francis's way of thinking and follow by example i know i will try to.


    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  18. A Little Common Sense

    You know your god is man made when he hates all the same people that you do.

    – Mark Twain

    Looks like a ton of conservatives are having a fit and disowning/demeaning a position they used to hold in such high regard because the person holding that position is telling them their god doesn't hate all the same people they do. The level of cognitive dissonance is both hilarious and sad.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  19. Doc Vestibule

    Never seen the comment section explode so quickly!
    Wow! Rush really managed to grab attention this time.

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

    Keep talking Rush, the official spokesman for the GOP. Pope has a 79 percent approval rating among Catholics.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Harry Cline

      ...and about 90% among those who claim neither a faith or political affiliation.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:33 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.