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. Eric

    So let the Vatican's treasury be known to all.......including art works, precious metals and stones........since god does not value material items, but does value how others help others then this is a great opportunity for the Catholic Church to lead.......

    December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Grand

      He's leading. What is Rush doing? What are YOU doing?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Pray for Rush or send him back to drug rehab he's in bad shape.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  3. Mike

    Look like Rush (and those who think like him) doesn't understand the basic message of Christianity (or of other religions, for that matter).

    December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • pm ohio

      There has always been a big disconnect between the values of the Tea Party/hard core conservative views and talking heads like Rush...and the religious right who's views and values are generally based on Christianity. Both differ greatly from the Catholic Church which was here long before Rush and will be here long after the damagi ng effects of his mis-used power has worn off.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
      • PaminIA

        The religous rights views are that women should be submissive and barefoot and pregnant, minorities should know their place and that men rule the world, the poor should shut up the sick should die and everyone should do what they say is right. Doesn't really sound very Christian to me.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • MarylandBill

          Glad to see that you are not painting a caricature of an intellectual position you disagree with... oh wait...

          December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  4. 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?



    December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  5. BD

    I have always been told never to discuss religion or politics. These comments appear to promote them as one.

    The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven

    December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  6. William1444

    rush and republican phony christians would call Jesus a marxist because Jesus told the rich to sell everything they have and give the money to the poor and if they have two coats, give one to someone who does not have a coat. And Jesus told the jews and the money changers they took a house of god and turned it into a den of thieves.

    The comments of Jesus are relevant today when addressed to republican phony christians.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  7. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  8. chalie16

    What does it matter to Rush whether the Pope is a Marxist, how does that personally affect him or anyone?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  9. Denae

    Why is this headline news? I mean, does anyone really take him seriously? I am a conservative and everyone I know in our circle thinks he is a joke. So I'm not sure anyone really thinks anything that comes out of his mouth is remotely true or close to it. Just ignore him and he will go away. ha ha I am a Christian. Not Catholic. And I think the Pope is AWESOME and I respect the Catholic church in many ways! Rush needs to shut his trap.

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

      Unfortunately, there are many people who take what he says to heart and believe every gust of hot air that comes out of his mouth.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  10. Lemon Talks

    is jesus make beleive like liberals tlel me?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Harry Cline

      He may have only ever been just a really good teacher. Money is not the root of all evil, it's the 'love of money' that is.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • PaminIA

      No Jesus is not fake but he would be considered a liberal by today's standard. He loved his fellow humans treated them all with respect and dignty, didn't belittle the poor, he healed the sick fed the hungry and comforted those in need. Does that sound like any conservative you know? Cuz it doesn't wound like any I know. All I hear from the neocons is SCREW THEM and leave me alone.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  11. Lee

    Most people, especially those who are not Catholic, would never have heard of this writing if Rush had not opened his big mouth. It would have been nothing to others except those who already thought this way. By giving it attention, Rush has made it into something it never would have been on its own.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  12. william k. fitzwater

    Well in a sense Rush is rejecting a foundation of the Godspell. Where saints shared thier resources in equipping the saints. Jesus decried that it is easier for camel to pass thru eye of needle than a rich person enter into the kingdom of heaven.
    Jesus teachings point to social justice and distribution of wealth . The second point of wealth redistribution is a sore point for Rush no doubt has considerable wealth & clout.
    @nd point is that Communism attempted to redistribute wealth and it failed miserably. That doesn't mean wealthy are suddenly given a free pass and can allow free wheeling capitalism. That also has failed miserably .
    I think the pontiff is saying a good balance between the haves and have not would go a long ways in helping the less fortunate .
    This is where wealthy rail at the idea of giving thier hard earned gains but some do and those people are appreciated .

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

      Yes, this is it exactly. Most aren't saying take all the rich peoples money and give it away. What I'm saying is instead of the CEO of my company making $60 million dollars a year and me making $29,000 how bout he make 10 million and I make $35k you bring up the wages of those making the least 15 to 20% cut the tops pay by at least that and everyone wins. The rich are still rich and the poor can buy food, with out government assistance.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  13. natalie seiling

    Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin.....now there's a marriage made in ????? And to think she could have been only a heartbeat away from the Presidency and he is still on the airwaves? Scary!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  14. chrism

    Most liberals take issue with government forcing the conservative agenda – they say it should be up to individuals. However, this is actually exactly the same complaint on the other issues the Limbaugh is making – that charity is not up to the government, that it is up to individuals and the government should not forceably redistribute wealth.

    Personally, I agree with the pope and therefore with "liberals" when it comes to helping the poor, but agree with the pope and therefore with "conservatives" when it comes to values, such as pro-life and upholding natural marriage.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  15. SaneGOP

    Marxism and Catholicism merged together, eh? Either Rush is proving the right rarely understands what Marxism is, or perhaps hi thinks the pope will pave the way to secular utopia. What a ridiculous comment in a long string of ridiculous comments.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  16. Nothienuf

    Imagine all the people living life in peace....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  17. Raygun

    Limbaugh sums up the Republican Jesus / political-right in the US over the past half century. What's "funny" is how Ronald Reagan loathed and exploited the religious-right, but he is still glowingly regarded by them as their saviour.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  18. Jules

    Dear CNN: This is important why??

    December 2, 2013 at 1:33 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?

    WAIT HOLD IT. HOW IS RUSH WRONG????????????????????????????????

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

      is NOT forced...

      December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • PaminIA

      This Pope's preaching comes directly from the bible. You know that book you wave around saying is all holy and our nation was founded on. If you don't believe in helping the sick, feeding the poor and caring for others then you are NOT a Christian you are a Republican.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Alison

      If I hadn't seen you post the same thing at least twice, which means you've probably posted it more than that, I would attempt a conversation with you regarding this topic. But I can already tell you are incapable of such things. Enjoy.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  20. Dr Tod Policandriotes

    Rush is just a radio host, nothing more. He is a blowhard and a prescription drug addict. Sure, I will listen to him because he is stupid funny and almost always full of crap in his moronic views. I can only take so much of his ranting, but I could listen to this pope anytime, he is speaking the right things. I hope his actions speak loudly also.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:32 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.