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. RS

    CNN thinks Rush Limbaugh is top-of-page news.


    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  2. Bill Carney

    CNN ..... This is not news, it's sensationalism and the uninformed, mindless dribble of a desperate man seeking relevancy and a ratings boost ...... much like CNN!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  3. OldSchool

    Well, if he pi55ed off Tubby he must be doing something right!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  4. CaliforniaAC

    The Pope is preaching basic Christianity: Jesus Christ - the word of God.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  5. Curious

    Why is Rush Limbaugh even relevant anymore? Who really buys into this charlatan windbag? He makes these outrageous statements merely to pump up his notoriety and draw listeners to his repulsive radio show. Stop giving this guy and audience and let him crawl back under his rock permanently.

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

    Some Lady: "You should start listening to Rush Limbaugh."
    Me: "Rush Limbaugh is a fat stupid turd."

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

      Fat stupid turds are going to be angry with you for that.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
      • Fat Stupid Turd

        I take offense to that!

        December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  7. Jules

    And the Pope's ideas come from where? Oh, that's right – Jesus Christ as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Limbaugh should get a red letter Bible where the words of Jesus are in red so he knows once and for all where the Pope's views come from.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  8. babooph

    Rush ,idiot that he is,does not know what a Marxist is.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  9. drowlord

    I have a lot more respect for Pope Francis than Rush Limbaugh. Being, as I am, a conservative atheist that should be an indictment of Limbaugh. Pope Francis is perhaps the fist important Christian leader to personify and endorse Christian ideologies in my lifetime.

    I have mixed feelings about the Pope's message on this topic. It's clear to me that the USA, specifically, abuses its political, economic, and military strength to enslave people in some countries and exploit many others. In the end, I don't think our reasons - luxury goods, mainly - reveal good character when scrutinized.

    But, good intentions or not, abundant wealth in the USA is a direct cause of technological innovations that benefit the whole world. Or would, I guess, if the poorest countries weren't procreating in the irresponsible manner that they are. Demonize industrialized nations to your heart's content, but you'll never see wealth in a population where unskilled and uneducated people have huge families starting at a young age. There simply aren't many opportunities for wealth or success with those burdens.

    While the rich countries deserve criticism, in my opinion, the poor countries deserve more. It's dubious to fuel a rich vs poor conflict, when the poor continue to cripple themselves with decisions that will lead to failure regardless of the greater economic and political landscape.

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

      Being an arch fiscal conservative myself,the Republican party & the T party are useless,Bill Clinton was more conservative than their heroes..

      December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      Actually if you read the writings of his predecessors, you would find that there is nothing particularly innovative here. Popes have been annoying fiscal conservatives for decades. What is new is both his emphasis on the message and the way the media covers it.

      I would also point out that as a general rule, a drop in birth rates has followed an increase in economic prosperity, not the other way around.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  10. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    funny, foxnews has a headline saying the "NY Cardinal affirms church opposition to Obamacare"
    ...round 1, of Tea Party vs actual Republicans...annnnd...
    ...fight !

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • 1nd3p3nd3nt

      ..or worse, dear lord, it could be the Tea Party vs the religious right vs the capitalist true-believers...
      ...are they even trying to win elections anymore ?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  11. Jeremiah

    Why do we give ignorant comments by one man the top spot on a major news network? Stop feeding into this CNN. He's one individual who doesn't speak for anyone else. This pope is the best thing to happen to the Catholic church. Remove this as the top story and move on. There's absolutely NOTHING to see here.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  12. k*in*canada

    Why give Rush more exposure by headlining his idiocy? CNN, this is NOT headline news.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  13. dt

    Rush is right on target again. We all know Jesus hated poor people, and kept as much profit as he could for himself. Pretty sure somewhere in the Bible it says something like "the richer you are, the easier it is to get into Heaven." And, "charity is for chumps."

    Oh wait. It was the EXACT OPPOSITE. Funny how MOST of Rush's listeners consider themselves religious too.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |

    Lemon Talk..............actually........ the Catholic church does not teach that snakes talk. We don't take a literal interpretation of the bible. Maybe we should not take you comments literally either.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  15. David

    I wouldn't say 'pure Marxism' but close enough. And I like it.

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

      It is far from Marxism. Its very simple really all have an obligation to help their fellow men, especially those who live relatively near them). This obligation cannot be replaced by state sponsored social welfare agencies (Though perhaps they can be supplemented by them).

      December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  16. Carole

    Does he enjoy looking like a fat dumb piece of doo doo?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  17. JL

    Rush went straight to Marxism, didn't even stop off at Socialism for a little while!
    Hey Oxycodone boy your going off the deep end, take another pill!

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


    December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  19. chrislocke

    What the pope wrote is right in line with the prophets like Isaiah, who criticized the ruling class for their wealth and opulence while people in the streets went hungry, making fun of the women who care only about clothes and getting drunk at parties rather than share the gold, etc. IT might be because Pope Francis has read the bible from cover to cover and thought about it... something Rush might try.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  20. Lemon Talks

    a liberal friend of mine said jesus is not even real and the pope is a expert on fairy tales

    December 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Harry Cline

      You think that's bad a conservative frind of mine said they only go to church to ask God for more money.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • The truth is out there

      How do you that your friend isn't on drugs of some kind?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:37 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.