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. Stringpuller

    Seemingly brilliant PR move by Limbaugh, he was probably hoping outlets would latch thusly onto his ridiculous and controversial comments. Must be a slow news day, so I guess that's good thing, but putting his message back into the spotlight only serves to lend it credence and disseminate it further. Why can't CNN be more rational and just ignore such foolishness?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  2. Rembrant

    He gets paid to say idiotic things. Pay no attention to this fat drug addict fecal matter on the radio and this will stop.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  3. sactonana

    I am an Independant voter, who has just now, swung a few degrees further to the left, after hearing Limbaugh's outrageous diatribe. I'm find this pope not only refreshing, but a real game changer for the future of the church. He is the man for this hour!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  4. Eric

    I am not Catholic or even a religious person, but I feel confident in saying that the current Pope has done more for humanity in improving the material, spiritual, and emotional well being of individuals around the world, than Limbaugh can, and will ever do, throughout the remainder of his radio host life. Limbaugh, please stop spreading hate while others spread love. -U.S Army Vet/ Student

    December 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  5. Lainie11

    Rush is right on target. The underground Catholics will never view Francis' rhetoric as anything else.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  6. Pat

    Pope Francis I is promoting Communism? I think Rush Limvaugh should read "Das Kapital" again. Karl Marx was very anti-religion. He called it "the opium of the masses". Not exactly the kind of viewpoint that Francis would want to sell.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Grand

      Rush doesn't know the meaning of half of what he spews.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  7. CNN needs a back bone

    deleted comments abound.... NSA needs to monitor Rushes members

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  8. Luther Elijah

    Well, Rush you would also call the Hebrew Prophets and Jesus Christ a Marxist. What you treasure is where your heart is. Do you treasure money, power and capitalism over biblical truth?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  9. Lemon Talks



    who will win????

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  10. Appalled Too

    Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Carney, Ms. Plain, and other armchair Christians seem to embrace Jesus' teachings to care for "the least" as long as that "care" is limited to an impersonal check in an offering plate. For Christians who want to put their faith to work, Mr. Limbaugh seems to think that's best done by aking the rich richer. Mr. Varney, failing to connect one's faith with one's vote is to waste the most sacred privileges of America: freedom of religion and freedom of expression. And Ms. Palin...well, Jesus was a liberal, by your definition.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  11. jesustheman

    CNN, the Channel for Neo-cons and Neo-libs on Wall Street parasites' payrolls, are simply using Limbaugh as a tool to "discredit" Pope Francis, before too many people actually realize that what they want is Marxist, God Forbid!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  12. dee0002

    Boy - can't make it much more crystal clear how far "Christians" have come from Christianity. Next up on right-wing Christian agenda, Jesus was a marxist. Reject his teachings.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Fsclcnsrvtv

      You mean Christ wanted a world full of welfare recipients? What happened to "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day...teach a man to fish, you feed him for life..."?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  13. Jason

    “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.”

    Apparently Stuart Varney believes in the separation of state and church.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  14. Shari

    What's sad and unbelievable is that Limbaugh is still on the air. The man is a misogynist and a bigot.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  15. Benjamin

    Given a choice between the Pope and Rush Limbaugh, I'm going to side with the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  16. FactCheck

    The Pope is pretty much saying what Jesus of Nazareth said. So now the Jabba the Hutt and his friends are taking on God. He need not fear going to H*ll, of course. There isn't enough acreage available for his head, his belly, or his butt.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Benjamin

      Unfortunately, said talking head is doing this almost solely for his wallet.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • youngkim3000

      Good one! That was a funny response!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  17. Jason

    The last sentence is the key here:
    "He's been sending a Vatican contingent, including the Papal Swiss Guards, into Rome to deliver food and charity."
    This attempts to link Rush's statements on the pontiff's political agenda with the assumption that Rush (and all conservatives) are anti-charity. I know this to be false and would be willing to bet any amount of money that conservatives outgive liberals in nearly every charity outside of planned parenthood. Charity is not an economic system, it is the responsibility of individuals. Economics is the province of the state. That is the issue here.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • michael

      I'll take that bet anyday. The middle class and even the poor give more than most rich.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  18. jpnitey

    I am not Catholic and distrust all of the various sects of Christians, each of whom purport to be the "truth" and in many instances despise other such sects. Thing is, this Pope is actually trying to emulate the words of Jesus spoken two millennia ago. The Pope a "Marxist" – oh please!
    Limbaugh might appeal to the evangelical right and the "Tea Party" but he fortunately is on the fringe and does not represent this writer or indeed most of humanity. He is patently sad and laughable at the same time.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • lamillers


      December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  19. dick E. Normus

    Fatso speaks again. What a loud mouth putz.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  20. Bob

    Well, Rush, I guess true religion isn't right-wing after all.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:35 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.