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. palintwit

    I think a lot of tea party patriots are going to wait for Sarah Palin to weigh in on this one before making up their own minds.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  2. Lainie11

    Religions are philosophies with a set of dogmas. Any time that set of dogmas/philosophical direction veers off the path, it's no longer what it claims to be. Francis is preaching Marxism as the Jesuits and Maryknoll Priests all embraced it. It's just reaching North America in recent years.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  3. Majorbatguano

    but isn't the Catholic church one of the largest property owners on the planet ?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Salvador

      Not only on the planet but the whole universe. It all belongs to God!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  4. rockysfan

    No, Limbaugh, he's preaching the Bible. Try following it sometime. Oh, snap! My bad! You only follow the rules of Rush and to he ck with the rest of us right? Blow somewhere else!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  5. Brad

    No matter what anyone says, there are always flaws in every socio-political system because from theory to practice, people get in the way. Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, Anarchy, etc. There is no such thing as Utopia.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  6. Skyler

    Wow. Never thought I'd come down on the side of the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  7. Salvador

    Sounds like Rush "can't handle the truth!" Give it up Rush, your capitalist ideas are dead wrong!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  8. Lemon Talks

    in this comic book issue from marvel its.



    who will be the victor to control the fortunes of the world.

    ~~~~~~~~excelsior Stan Lee

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  9. carlos

    rush limbowel...enough said about this toilet mouth.....and not the cleanest toilet......

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  10. joe

    I can't believe CNN is willing to dignify this garbage by reporting it.

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

    LOL – love it – Lim"burger" should crown himself POPE – what an absolute waste of humanity this joker is....but what is sad is that so many following like lemmings running off a cliff.............................talk about a lack of intelligence....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  12. falk

    Anything for attention and ratings. Pathetic.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  13. whocares

    Why is what Rush Limbaugh thinks or says big headline, "above the fold" news? CNN, do you have any credibility left? Guess what? That's not news or important.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  14. Sharkartist

    Rush Limbaugh is a fat-headed windbag! All he ever spews is vitriol and sensationalist blather. I'm not a Catholic, and frankly, have been opposed to just about everything that church represents. I don't subscribe to any organized religion's dogma. I however find this new Pope to be refreshingly human, sincere and loving. Traits that Mush Limburger will never know.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  15. mark

    Here is an idea, all you evil American Capitalist Catholics stop contributing your ill gotten gains to the Catholic Church. Also, note to Francis, why not guard the Vatican less so folks who want to live there can get in easily?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  16. chrislocke

    Also, people who say that the church should NOT influence your vote are naive. If the church preaches ethics (Which it does), ethics are practical, real life rules which dictate your actions. How can that not define your politics? How can the commandment by Jesus christ himself to give up your wealth and care for the poor not influence who you vote for, if amongst your choices of candidates are people who say "steal from the poor and give to the rich"? It's not possible to be a good Christian and vote for someone whose policy is 100% diametrically the opposite of the actions you're required to take to save your soul.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  17. radar8

    Mental midgets, like Rush, truly believe that capitalism is a system of governance. It is not. It is simply a system for producing wealth for some and poverty for others. Capitalism has no conscience, does not care about people.
    While a good system for making money, capitalism has gone too far and is destroying our society. The wealthy are willing to destroy the environment and the entire social structure simply to make more money.
    Money and wealth aren't bad. What is bad is putting money in front of social concerns and the health of society as a whole.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • BD70

      Exactly. Which is why less government is a terrible idea. What will fill that void? Capitalism?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  18. Nick

    If the Pope is marxist, then that would mean Limbaugh is Fascist. Look up the extreme ends of the socio-political spectrum Rush. Corporations control Fascist governments.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  19. Harry Cline

    Can you even begin to imagine if Jesus walked among America today. He'd be in prison within a week.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Mulletor

      Or killed

      December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • sonny1973

      Yes and he would have a free Obama phone, health care, place to stay, free food, free clothes, yep capitalism sucks.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  20. mckinney_man

    Well the pope thinks a one world government would make things all better? All I can say is LOL. He should stick to the matters of spirit.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      And yet there is nowhere here that says he claimed a one world government would be better.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Salvador

      Not just any government but the King of Kings. No earthly government will ever suffice, but the One is Spirit is the one the will succeed regardless of what you think.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:44 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.