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. carlos

    him and the kardashians..........enough of this fecal matters......UGH!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  2. Gwow

    Fox News flash: it is time for the haves and have-nots to enter the steel cage for the match of millennia.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • BC

      Rush for President!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  3. JJ

    LMAO! The Phat Phck said WHAT? LOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  4. npofahl

    What I find sad is the fact this story is front page CNN news. As if this is legitimate news. It is anything but. Nothing more then grandstanding by a self important, greedy, sour, and incredibly unintelligent Limbaugh. I don't know who's more foolish, Limbaugh? Or those who listen to his swill.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  5. John

    Limbaugh morality

    RACIST. ................................ANY DOUBTS?

    MORALITY..................................HE QUESTIONS THE POPE...............THE MOST IMMORAL MAN IN THE US

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  6. Humbled

    It's going to be really difficult figuring-out to whom we should pay attention. A man who has lived a life of humility taking care of the poor and less fortunate or some pompous, Jabba-the-Hutt look-a-like who has spent his whole life telling stories for the sole purpose of selling anything that pays for his narcissistic lifestyle.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  7. Jeff

    I have no problem with Limbaugh. He is paid to say ridiculous things. The problem I have is with the morons who actually listen to him and pay attention to what he has to say.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  8. Bob

    "But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," Um, God?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  9. Mike

    “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.”

    LOL – To try and suggest that people don't already blatantly use religion to influence politics and how you cast your vote is just pure ignorance. Many religions/churches will even send you an approved list at voting time of who they think you should vote for.

    Disclaimer – I am in fact a Christian and don't have any issue with religion, just the way many people want to use it as a weapon. I also do not consider myself a Liberal or Conservative

    The real problem here is that statements like this are going push many conservatives to really put some thought into their voting in the coming years. Pretty much the Pope has just crossed the GOP machine and put their financial views in somewhat conflicting with their social/religious views, where as before you could trick yourself into believing that you got the best of both worlds. Which of course there is no such thing in politics with either party.

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

    If that moron Lush Rimbutt doesn't like it it must be the right direction. Go Pope!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  11. alvinoid

    Limbaugh v Pope ... seriously, don't give the fat windbag a moment of time. He's fighting for relevance of which he has zero. I'm an non-religious but it's nice to see a leader speaking out and exhibiting the true nature of charity. If there is any doubt about the lack of compassion in capitalism, then just examine Walmart and other similar companies. Whereas there are some decent examples of better balanced companies that treat their employees reasonably (ie Cosco), most are only interested in making money. Capitalism has no soul, no real conscience or concern for the common man. Corps love our money, yes, our health and well being, no (unless it is profitable). But the real issues here .. Limbaugh – uneducated, laughing stock, fat-a$$ – irrelevant other than a blip in the history of rhetorical ignorance and bigotry.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  12. Jimbo Coles

    Hell will floweth over the day this fat bloviated piece of dung spins off this mortal coil.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Martin Miller

      Catholics and others who understand Jesus message should march 'en mass' to Limbaugh's compound in Florida and 'facilitate' his meeting with the devil. I'm not even religious, but Limbaugh - the liar for the ages - makes me believe in 'evil' that is not explained by clinical or social psychology.

      Pope Francis appears to be closest to Jesus message, morals, and values in the history of all Popes.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  13. gregdougall

    The Pope is Preaching LOVE. Try it some time.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  14. Lee 927

    The Pope should respond: "Limbaugh is preaching pure stupidity!!"

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  15. mcdanel1771

    Further proof of how little time some folks have spent actually reading the words of Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  16. Stacy

    Why do we keep allowing evil, poisonous men like Rush Limbaugh to have this much attention? He's like a 3-year old throwing a tantrum. For once we have a pontiff who actually believes in word and the teachings of Jesus Christ and wants to steer the church and it's believers in that direction. Jesus was a radical, not only in his time, but in ours as well. I pray for the safety and well-being of Pope Francis. He's upsetting the long established status quo at great risk to himself.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Love

      Thank you – nicely said, my friend!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  17. Paul

    I am curious what Jesus preached. Read the book God's Politics by Jim Willis.

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

      Or maybe just read the words themselves. You'll find them in the New Testament.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  18. southernwonder

    rush is right.
    vatican lives off of tax exemptions and handouts. it advocates the same lifestyle others so it can have company and not feel guilty.

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

      Rush is wrong. And so are you.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • David

      Yup. You are a southern wonder.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • ManWiththe1000PoundBrain

      Or, maybe it is true that Jesus emphasized helping the poor (which he did) and people like Limbaugh and yourself are trying to justify your own immorality.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • KAS

      So the Vatican is no different than the folks on Wall Street, the Banks, GE, Apple and well, every other business out there. Got it.

      So much for capitalism and not relying on handouts from the taxpayers.

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

        The Pope is promoting the teachings of Jesus. What a shocker.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  19. CNN needs a back bone

    rush is a bigot

    December 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  20. Tone LG

    REALLY??? CNN still bites on Rush Limbaugh's pathetic attention grabs???, HEY CNN, RUSH LIMBAUGH'S SHOW IS DEVIL WORSHIPPING!! QUICK, GIMME A HEADLINE!!! Seriously, how is this nutjob considered newswrothy???? Can we PLEASE get back the air force trying to get us into worl war 3 wih China? Is THAT not more important than Rush Limbaugh??????

    December 2, 2013 at 1:42 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.