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. Journey

    Ted Cruz 2016

    December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Goose


      You kill me.... you really do.....

      December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Scott

      You are, next to Palin fans, the stupidest person in the world. Congratulate yourself......that took a lot of work (from your parents)

      December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  2. peaceandlove

    Limbaugh does it again. These right wing, republicans, tea baggers, whatever, are all the same. Let's just throw around words like "Marxism" and "Socialism" just to scare their ignorant blind sheep followers. Have we so quickly forgotten how greed for money almost ruined everything a few years ago? We are still suffering from that. I am not a christian but I believe in most of the teachings of Jesus including helping the less fortunate. How can someone "spin" that into a bad thing?

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

      Who is greedy in your opinion? The bankers, the homeowners? Certainly your not greedy. I prefer to use the word self-interest. It is always the other guy who is greedy........not us. Capitalism and self-interest will create the best life for the most people than any other system on this earth.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Mosihasteen

      If you knew the definition of socialism, you would have no alternative than to side with Limbaugh. Though he never uses that word, the Pope is encouraging that philosophy. Somebody should tell him it doesn't work.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
      • paouser70

        there you go again – thnking you speak for other folks. Hypocrite.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • Mosihasteen

          I do speak for other folks. I's sure plenty here agree with me, . . . . so . . . . .what?

          December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Mosihasteen

      Easy! Jesus wanted you to give of the goodness of your heart, not have your sins repealed by the government for taking your money and giving it to people who don't necessarily need or deserve it.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  3. Ralph_in_FL

    He was having a bad day. Must have missed his oxycontin.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  4. Pete Seria

    I give Limbaugh credit, he knows exactly what to say to stay relevant and spin up his base. Oooooh, Marxism. I'd say 95% of Limbaugh's audience don't even know what Marxism is. He is playing off their fear. And people blindly follow instead of thinking for themselves. It's comical. Hollywood, reality TV, politicians all do it every day. Why not Rush too? I hate the guy, but he knows EXACTLY what he's doing. By and large, people want to be followers and part of a group, and they all think their group is better than your group. They will follow anyone that tells them what to think so that they don't have to think for themselves. It's sad.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  5. GOD

    Why would ANYONE care what Rush Limbaugh has to say?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  6. ironman59

    This clown will say or do anything to make a buck. Given how many times this guy is a loser in his personal life, he should never open his mouth about others personal beliefs. He is exactly why the gop is so out of touch with the world and the American people. Religion is evil enough on it's own but at least this pope is trying to fix some of the basic stupidity of the church. Rimbaugh just needs to keep his puckered up lips shut.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  7. Dave Rogers

    Well, Rush says a lot of things... Most of them as dubious as the next... The only reason this is news is that Rush must have gotten a new publicist or something. It's not like you don't expect Rush to call people "socialists".... or to define socialism in such a way that the Pope is one... Heck, everybody right of Joe Pine is one.

    I dunno...Rush was pretty funny back in the day, what with his "Gorbasms" and Abortion Updates with flushing toilets, and all. These days, I think his meds are a big part of his show.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  8. stewart

    just shows how far rush has his head up his butt

    December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  9. 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 1:47 pm |
    • James Thomas

      Tell me one time that Rush is right about something... Oh and by the way... How many commandments has Rush broken? I can count at least 6 out of ten in my head right now..... He's really the guy to look up to and listen...

      December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • bob@bob1213421.com

      1) no, it is NOT a tenet of Marxism.
      2) no, the Evangii is NOT about forced redistribution.
      you're an idiot for even saying the things you did

      December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  10. tatanka

    "Talent on loan from God."

    I think the part of half his brain tied behind his back is true, though.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  11. pm ohio

    Sad thing is that millions believe everything this moron says. They blame the eroding of 'Merica on Liberal values, but it is really the under-educating of our People. The day will come soon when the 99% will get tired of being lied to and fooled by social issues when the rich are robbing us blind. Shameful.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I'm sorry: Who is this fat loud mouth and why do I care what he says? I didn't know he was still around. #NotRelevant

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

    Dear CNN, you are probably the only ones who still listen to this fat blowhard good for nothing.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  14. Wow

    If these poor misinformed windbags ever studied Christ's teachings or early Church history, they would be horrified. Jesus and all Christians (for the first several hundred years) were socialists.

    Pope Francis is just reiterating what the Catholic Church has always taught

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  15. The Deepening

    Rush Limbaugh just wants attention any way he can get it. I think he's out to lunch and not to be taken seriously.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  16. So what

    Why is this a headline? EVERYTHING that druggie windbag says is sad and pathetic, this is nothing new.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  17. yoda99

    If Rush were the local Sheriff and Jesus returned to walk across the water, Rush would have him arrested as a paranoid schizophrenic with suicidal tendencies before Jesus could even get down to the river's edge!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  18. tednugent'sdiapers

    The Pope nailed it! Watch the teabaggers at Fox Entertainment go nuts!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  19. QS

    Only conservatives could have the audacity to claim that their preferred economic approach of greed and avarice is under attack and is simply being misconstrued by liberals (as well as a "Marxist" Pope) to make it seem like those things are bad.

    Oh conservatives – if your selfishness wasn't so obvious even I might be tricked into falling for your ideological rhetoric like so many seem to do. But thankfully, it is that obvious and the more you try to dig in your heels and take pride in that approach, the more people will continue to see you for what you are and vote accordingly.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  20. Joseph Back

    I wasn't aware that looking out for each other was Marxism. The Pope is preaching from the Catechism.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:46 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.