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. Deborah

    The meek shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • sybaris

      quoting bible verses is like an 8 year old stabbing at you with their imaginary Star Wars light saber..........cute and ineffective

      December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  2. disanitnodicos

    The only good Marxist is a dead Marxist, preferably surrounded by lots of other dead Marxists.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  3. strangerq

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


    He hit the GOP right where they live and that's why Rush let out that high pitched squeal.

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

      Exactly. The wealthy are just not that benevolent

      December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  4. Greta

    Interesting seeing liberals come out in support for the Pope. I'm sure having Rush Limbaugh as the person disagreeing with him doesn't hurt. Wait until the Pope promotes the rights of the unborn or traditional marriage... you all will scatter.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  5. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  6. Gary

    The only thing sad and unbelievable is that Lush Blimpbutt has 15,000,000 listeners.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  7. Rita Thornton

    Why is this man still able to say anything on National Radio and why do the respectable TV journalists report on what he says. They should be reporting on who his sponsors are so we can make sure we don't buy their products. I couldn't possibly listen to him long enough to be able to hear who sponsors him. He is a disgrace to our country.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  8. Lemon Talks


    fox news : High court ends Liberty University lawsuit over ObamaCare


    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  9. Craig

    Rush Limbaugh. Pure Stupidity.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  10. Skeptimist

    Limbaugh's comments often remind me of the new kid on the beach who thought he could hide from the rising tide by digging a hole in the sand.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  11. Mosihasteen

    Rush is close, but no cigar. There has never been nor will there ever be 'pure Marxism' in the world. Though I like this pope, he should understand the foolishness of his statements. The Catholic church is the largest on earth not because of doctrine, but because of the money that allowed it to extend its reach around the world. Pope Francis is hostile towards the very thing that has allowed him to be where he is today. Leave economy alone. Bravo for evangalization.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  12. indianriver

    Giving control of the economy makes EVERYONE poor as shown over and over in our political-socioeconomic history. For someone to succeed, others must fail. The battle between haves and have-nots will NOT cease regardless of system in place. The battle between haves and have-nots has existed since the one caveman returned to his cave with more fish and game than his neighbor, leaving the neighbor wanting more and green with envy. There will ALWAYS be a difference. Movement towards a central authority to control these disparities is REGRESS, not progress.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  13. Not a communist


    Uhhh.... sorry Rush but you have it all backwards.

    The money we are taking from the 1% is our hard earned money.

    The 1% didn't earn it. The majority of them got their excesses by manipulating politicians and laws in their favor.

    Most of us no longer look at the 1% as world capitalist classy job creators.

    We see them as thieves. Not just monetary thieves, but thieves who stole the human spirit and replaced it with a subservient drone mentality.

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

      Speak for yourself, I am not part of your "WE"

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

        Thank god. Good luck on your own tool.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  14. cnrski

    Limbaugh and Palin.....perfect examples of NOT BEING ABLE TO FIX STUPID!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  15. lulany

    Looks like Pope Francis chose his name well. St-Francis was also heavily criticized for his views on wealth and sharing with the poor. Not that Limbaugh's opinion actually matters. Unsurprisingly, the strongest opposition then came from the same place it does now. From the rich who don't want to share.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  16. Fr33th1nk3r


    Has there ever been a more satisfying matchup for non-believers? All this "God" needs to do is step in and say who is correct and who is spreading false teachings....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Kolton M

      I was just thinking something along those lines.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  17. Rlg

    Who made Rush Limbaugh King of the World? And when did he really say anything that make sense?

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

      Nobody made him king of anything. The pope is closer to being that. And just about EVERYTHING he says makes sense. Its just the manner in which he says it that bothers people.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
      • paouser70

        Speak for yourself – You like to throw that at folks; follow your own advise. who do you think you are – rush?

        December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • Mosihasteen

          OK and your point is what? You're just driveling onward. Are you saying people enjoy Limbaugh's delivery and amiability?

          December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  18. JustStopIt

    Oh come on. Christianity is voluntary Socialism or maybe Communism, but definitely not Capitalism. You do for others and the focus is everything except "I". Of course, I don't equate Catholicism to Christianity either.

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

      Wait until December 26 when Rush Limbough denounces Jesus and Adam Smith for acknowledging that government has a role in society.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  19. Pam

    What's sad is that Limbaugh is still on the air spewing his lies and hate.

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

      If you had a radio show, what would you say? If you lied all the time, would you have an audience?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • paouser70

        could be – rush does..

        December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • Mosihasteen

          OK – prove to the rest of us he 'lies all the time'. Or are you just turning a deaf ear to what you don't like hearing and calling it "lies" for convenience sake?

          December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  20. rrock

    Thank you Rush for digging yourself a deeper hole. Hopefully you will not be able to climb out this time.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:48 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.