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. Landru

    Rush Limbaugh did not come to this conclusion on his own. He just isn't bright enough. What he is report may in fact be accurate but it is truly sad that Rush Limbaugh has the audience to make headlines reporting this. Basically every word that comes out of his mouth is just a diatribe against anyone who is not an ultra conservative Republican.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  2. Chantal

    I'm sorry but who even cares what this irrelevant imbecile still has to say? I guess speaking about highly popular public figures is supposed to make us care but CNN, really? Let Limbaugh sink into the miserable hole of has been journalism that he has dug for himself.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Landru

      We aren't that lucky

      December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  3. bruce

    What a terrible article. Does anybody with a brain respect anything this guy says? Why would CNN give this idiotic fringe individual front page coverage like this? It must be a slow news day.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Mopery

      They want the web traffic, only people stuck in airports ever really watch their station.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
      • ME II

        ... so that's why the airlines suck so bad.

        December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  4. Apologetic

    Poor Rush, he misses the point again. The #1 commandment is "You shall have no other gods before me". Clearly today peopl are idiolizing money and power, which ironicaly people would have neither if it wasn't for the grace of God. The Pope is explicitly stating we need to spend less time lining our pockets and more time caring for each other. This is Rush being Rush just trying to get more listeners, becuase he thinks he is god.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Uncle Sam

      Good point. While I have been raised in the capitalistic society, I can see where it undermines the principles brought forth in helping those less fortunate. I know many people who forego the opportunity to make as much money as possible in order to serve others. But the vast majority of people could care less about others and concentrate on making more money. It is their right. But the world would be a much better place if people would care more about their fellow man.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  5. ME II

    I haven't read the Evangelii and I dislike Rush most of the time, but I have to say that the "fifth-century St. John Chrysostom" quote does sound Communist in the sense that it seems to advocate community ownership of all wealth.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  6. Enough of This

    Seriously? This is FRONT PAGE BREAKING NEWS in a "mainstream new outlet"?

    CNN, once a respectable news outlet, has degenerated into a rag and is no longer a legitimate news source. I am blocking it permanently and if you feel similarly, here is the easiest way to do so on a Windows PC:

    1. Open up the following file in a text editor (eg. notepad):

    2. Copy and paste this line to the end of the file: http://www.cnn.com

    3. Click file/save.

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

      Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Pope Francis is Right

      Get your twisted news at Fox and let them guide you to the world of bigotry.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  7. BC

    Rush, along with all his followers, are from the school of thought of "looking out for #1", rather than compassion and concern about the welfare of others. The only time him and others like him give to others is for tax purposes or to somehow feel better about themselves. You can live a life of personal responsibility and freedom while still caring for others less fortunate. I truly believe that the majority of the wealthy of the world only do what is in their own best interests. Unfortunately that is how it will always be, and that is contrary to what the bible teaches. The pope was just reiterating this basic biblical teaching. And it makes the wealthy uncomfortable, just like it did when Jesus preached it.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  8. 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 1:45 pm |
    • Sense

      Lets set things straight first they do not take money from someone by force. You have no clue of how things work.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Emmanuel Goldstein

      Looks like Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh aren't really into this Christianity thing.

      Perhaps the Stupid Party will hold its next convention in Hell!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  9. Phelan

    Who? Rust? Rusk? Rube? Can't remember...Oh, him! I thought someone had skewered an Ash stake into his mouth a while ago. Too bad.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  10. AmericanPatriot

    Christ was Marxist too.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Careful Thought

      Of course Jesus was surely not a Marxist. He was a carpenter who most definitely haggled over price at his job and every market where he bought food. Have you BEEN to the Middle East? I have.

      Make sure you don't confuse "caring about the poor" and "stealing money from others to take care of them." As a matter of fact, when asked by Judas why the woman was wasting expensive perfume washing his hair, Jesus didn't agree with the idea of taking that wealth, selling it and giving it to the poor as Judas suggested. If He was a Marxist, that's exactly what he would have done.

      The more important story is this: We all passed Obamacare out of a concern for the 30 million people who don't have health insurance. Now, more are losing it BECAUSE of Obamacare, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is now saying that even in 10 years, there will be just as many uninsured as before. So, if that was the main reason to do this, it's not working.

      But that wasn't the reason it was passed, and no one was surprised in the white house that millions of people are losing their insurance because of Obamacare.

      But the top story on CNN is an off handed comment that a guy on the radio with a potential audience of only 5% of the population compared the Pope to Karl Marx. Wait? Don't the liberals kind of dig Marx? Isn't that a GOOD thing?

      If Someone compared a new pollution to Reagan, William F. Buckley, Jr. or Milton Friedman, no conservative would say, "Hey, that's not fair you can't call him names like that" they admit their admiration for their leaders. The left hides from their allegiance to Marx, Engel, Lenin, Castro and other leaders of the left.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • Pope Francis is Right

        Careful Thought, try to Focus you are off topic.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  11. canniwander

    So Stuart Varney is upset a religious order is trying to influence his vote. Has he been utterly asleep for the years since Reagan took office and destroyed the separation of church and state? Has he not been to church in twenty years to hear his Pastor/Priest/Rabbi/Whatever tell him of the evils of so and so's legislation?

    He destroyed credibility by leading off with "I go to church to save my soul". He is either a liar or a hypocrite; most likely, both.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  12. Peter

    Rush's ratings are in the tank.

    His audience is aging and/or dying.

    As usual, he is trying to say more and more outrageous things in order to get attention.

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

      I'm 23.....stop lying. You are uninformed like every other Liberal that voted for the azz clown in office.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  13. BC

    Liberals= losers

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

      you're the loser.

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

        American Patriot? Lmao...now that's funny coming from a Lib tard

        December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  14. OrionStyles

    We should give Rush Limbaugh and Rob Ford a show together... get them all hopped up on on drugs + alcohol and send them into public functions to see what kind of carnage they can create.

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

      I'm sure Obama can give them advice....lol

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

      So a typical Monday, then?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
      • BC


        December 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  15. Lemon Talks

    normally CNN give the RCC the middle finger because CNN is run by educated intellectual liberals who do not beleive in fairy tales.

    and i agree with CNN on that.

    but just to make rush look bad they will side with the catholic church this one time.

    and the liberal sheep do not even notice it

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

      Limbaugh is a moron all the time.

      He usually attacks young women though, and not the Pope.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
      • Emmanuel Goldstein

        That's not fair.

        Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer who makes (well, he MADE) a lot of money off of Limbots.

        It's the Limbots who are the foos.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Peter

      Upper CNN management are hardly flaming libs.

      Look them up.

      Being "liberal" is all a matter of perspective.

      Some people thought Romney was a liberal!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • BC

      You can't say educated and liberal in the same sentence and keep a straight face.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  16. veep

    I would like to know if there are ANY decent Christians out there that think Jesus would EVER defend Mr. Limbaugh's conduct.

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

      Sure, I think Jesus is all for speaking the truth. The pope is no different than any fallible man, for we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. The pope is dead wrong on this and many other things.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  17. Skyler

    "The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."


    Pope nailed it.

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

      Nailed it? Like I did your mum?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • Mopery

        2nd grade is calling, they want their insults back.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  18. Mopery

    Uh oh, looks like Rush is on the oxycontin again!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  19. John Pacella

    Rush "Blockhead" Limbaugh, how can anyone even listen to him, much less assign any credibility to his rants?
    In case you didn't know:
    1. Limbaugh has been married four times. One of those was officiated by another right wing ideolue, Clarence Thomas. That marriage ended in divorce as well.
    2. Blockhead was arrested for illegal drug possession. "In April 2006 Prosecutors explained that the charges were brought after they discovered he received about 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months, at a pharmacy near his Palm Beach mansion."
    3. He continued to buy drugs illegally using fake prescriptions: "In June 2006, Limbaugh was detained by drug enforcement agents at Palm Beach International Airport. Customs officials confiscated Viagra from Limbaugh's luggage as he was returning from the Dominican Republic. The prescription was not in Limbaugh's name."
    4. He is an academic fraud. His only education, beyond a mediocre high school career was flunking out out college after three semesters. According to his mother, "he flunked everything", and "he just didn't seem interested in anything except radio."

    Blockhead Limbaugh is not more qualified to offer opinions on economic theory than Dubya was to comment on Iragi "nucular"
    weapons. He is nothing more than an uneducated, frug abusing hypocrite.

    Pope Francis, on the other hand has devoted his life to helping others. Unlike Blockhead, Francis is well educated (degree in philosophy, professor of literature and psychology) and has NEVER betrayed an oath (like divorcing 4 times).

    Limbaugh is a liar and a criminal. Flush Rush.

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


      December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Aaron

      Well Said...PERFECT!

      December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  20. wttexas

    We pray for our church leaders,,the job is difficult enough,,and here you come ,,with open mouth,,maybe you are the anti Christ,,,

    December 2, 2013 at 1:44 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.