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. Mark Peterson

    Limbaugh thinks everyone else is all about money simply because he's all about money...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  2. John the Bon

    The white whale lives.

    When will Ahab finally kill it?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  3. anti-rush

    Have some more pain killers rush your a idiot,,,better shop for a new doctor

    December 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  4. Sid Airfoil

    Rush can disagree with the Pope, but to say that it is "unbelievable" that the Pope would call for the rich to help the poor is just silly. Christ was poor, and sacrificed everything that he might otherwise have had to help the poor. And ultimately he sacrificed himself completely in order to save others. If Christ is the Christian ideal (which obviously he is supposed to be), then Rush is one of the worst Christians there is. Indeed, it is time for Republicans in general to recognize the fundamental contradiction that they are trying to live: Capitalism is based on self-interest, Christianity is based on self-sacrifice. They cannot be reconciled. It is refreshing, at least, to see someone like Rush clearly choosing sides rather than trying to rationalize a compromise between these opposite philosophies.


    December 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • ManWiththe1000PoundBrain

      Yes, so many right wingers totally miss the point of the teachings of Christ. It's not about bigotry and selfishness and is about selflessness and helping those in need. Limbaugh is simply trying really hard to justify his one immorality.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
      • mm

        You're very correct. Although, to make this an issue endemic to right wingers is incorrect. There are plenty of left wingers who are completely removed from the teachings of Christ as well.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • Between The Hammer & The Anvil

          Care to name one ?
          How about Obama ?
          How "Dare" he try to give people medical help.
          Must be a socialist........So was Jesus.

          December 2, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  5. Harry Cline

    Gee Rush lighten up. Show some of that claim compassionate conservatism will ya.
    Remember a good many of those rapist priest are conservative.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  6. Cinman

    Rush boy, what the Pope said was pure Christianity. What you say and stand for is pure greed. Guess who gets to go to hell?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  7. EarlGrayHot

    Rush-just shut up. Only a moron would pay any attention to what he says anyway.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  8. mark

    Ok so you all do as I say and not as I do. Allow me to ride around with my entourage and security detail while you all eat corn nuts, how much more hypocrisy can one display? I speak of humility but I am the most prideful religious freak in the world!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Boston Bill

      You're talking about Limbaugh, right?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Antonio

      Mark, you clearly don't understand what Francis has been doing, have you? He's abandoned the papal apartments, he's been turning down security details, and even publicly reprimanded a German bishop for living a life of luxury, suspending the bishop from his duties and converting the home into a homeless shelter. He's not just talking the talk; what you claim is an utterance of ignorance.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Treebeard

      You don't read much, do you ?
      Brainwashing is strong with this one.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  9. Jamie Estevez

    Limbaugh is an idiot. There is nothing Christian about most self proclaimed American conservatives, their religion is capitalism and their god is the golden bull of Wall Street, not the Lord Jesus Christ. They are idolaters for Christ himself said hat you cannot serve both God and Mammon. If I do have any problems with the Pope it is his lax approach to important moral issues and liturgical tradition...but I do not have a problem with his economics. Capitalism is usury. Capitalism and Christianity are largely incompatible.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  10. Bootyfunk

    jesus was communist.
    read the bible.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Dennis

      Bootyfunk, I pray that when you pass away, you'll have made amends before judgement time.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • NelsonLeonard

        Most of us will have to make amends before judgment time. Posting a comment that had been debated before is hardly a great sin. I will say that since Communism usually denies the existence of God I find that hard to reconcile with Jesus' constant reference to a God.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • magnum12

      Jesus wanted the poor to be provided for by those who were in a postion to do so by what was called the Law of Consecration and not by government social programs. He was not a Communist or Marxist because neither believe in God. And He never talked against the rulers or against capitalism. Render to Ceaser what is Ceasar's and render to God what is God's.

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

        What happens when people don't listen to the message? Maybe God has to work through government instead because the people refuse the message. Whether Christ wanted individuals or governments to provide for the poor makes little difference when looking at the spirit of the message which is take care of those in need. If the government sets a better example of Christianity than the people in churches what is there to complain about.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
      • Treebeard

        Nail on the head buddy.
        If I am so rich, I can use my wealth and influence, to
        control government and enact laws to make
        sure that I get richer off of the backs of the working class.

        Yes, I am living in "Capitalist" heaven.
        Then I can go to church and be absolved of all my sins.

        I LOVE AMERICA !!!!

        December 2, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  11. Brian

    It stings so much Rush because you know the pope's right

    December 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    “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.”

    +++ so varney wants to screw people over and play dirty in his political life but wants to be warm and fuzzy when he thinks of religion so he can get through the pearly gates. how does one separate what they do politically from their personal views?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • NelsonLeonard

      Stuart Varney is pretty much a Fox puppet.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  13. Lenny Pincus

    Gosh, the right-wing anti-Catholicism is sure rearing its ugly head. Reminds me of the Republican religious objections to Al Smith and John Kennedy.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  14. Nazxul

    Sounds like the Pope takes the gospels literally. I guess that's marxist. But right wingers have always has a problem with the gospels. Look at the Reagan administrations war on the Catholic church in central and south america during the 80's killing hundreds of thousands including priests and nuns.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  15. Say What?

    I agree with the Pope, modern capitalism is wrong and should be replaced! trickle-down economics is wrong and I'll even go as evil.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • dd1950

      Does Rush even know what a Marxist advocates? A violent revolution of the proletariat (working class) against capitalism. NOTHING in Francis' messages is anything other than 180 degrees away from violence. Rush-get your terminology right. Francis may be a socialist, but then so was Jesus of Nazareth.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  16. Dave Jaipersaud

    You can bet your last dollar that if by some miracle Jesus appeared one day in front of the House of Representatives in Washington and tell them helping the poor and less fortunate (ie. the 47%), all the Republicans will call him the son of Satan or Marxist in Chief. Imagine that! They will put money and ideology ahead of god. This is a prime example of how greed and excessive money can corrupt. No wonder this country is going to the dogs.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  17. Mike

    Talk about two gas bags in one article!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  18. A Christian

    “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.

    How can you go to church to save your soul when you can't even follow one of the most basic commandments.

    Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

    Hypocrites really.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  19. Davel

    I've been saying it for years now..... Trickle down economics is a class-room theory that only works on the chalk board. Once you apply it to real world economics it fails miserably because of greed. As for Limbaugh, he and his ilk are ideologically crippled. the slightest deviation from their ideology and you're practically labeled a terrorist. Ironically, I would label label members of Al-Qaeda as ideologically crippled as well.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • MiddleGround

      It doesn't even work on the blackboard without patently absurd assumptions. Just like supply side economics.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
      • Scott

        I disagree here. On the chalkboard it actually does look good. However, this abortion has destroyed the US more than we know. It took 30 years for Reagan's policies to show their ugly face and destroy what our grandparents rebuilt in the 40-70's

        December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  20. Don DaMiddle

    Go get'em Rush!
    Let's see just how small and fragmented you can make the GOP.
    Welcome back to moderation... brothers & sisters of the Catholic Church.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:11 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.