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. Kenneth

    Really? This is your headline article? There are so many more important news items, who really cares what this moron has to say....CNN looses credibility when you promote stupid stories like this.....Please return to real news....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |

      Well with all the crap going on, sometimes it is nice to have a bit of comedic relief. No one takes Rush seriously so when he says something outrageous we can all have a chuckle and realize it does not matter. Hit your space bar a few times and you can scroll down to all the stories that share the gory details of bad things are these days.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  2. sorbo1980

    This is a crazy statement coming from a news organization:

    “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."

    Capitalism is not a "political system," but an economic one. How can Varney report the news if he doesn't even understand the basic definitions of words?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  3. hotstuffpdx

    Only an American Christian would criticize the teachings of Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      People say a lot of dumb things on this blog, but you are the winner for the dumbest.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  4. Saboth

    When you get down to brass tacks, Christianity really does resemble "socialism" or "Marxism". The tenets teach us to wash the feet of the poor, and if you have plenty, you should give to those less fortunate and help those in need. It's quite curious how so many right-wingers are Christian but feel that the poor and sick should just die off rather than receive any assistance.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It's the same kind of mindset that is unable to differentiate between pro-life and pro-birth.
      Screw them babies once they're out of the womb – then they're just social parasite, right?

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

      Actually, "right wingers" give more to charity than all other political factions combined....just sayin'

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

      Because they are hypocrites, like Rash. The Pope isn't.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  5. Gary Longaberger

    Limbaugh is in an economic & political 'Limbo', oblivious to anyone but rich corporate America. His fertilizer rhetoric could plant about 100 acres of corn, still being swallowed by white Southerners with the same DNA. Rush has somethings in common with the devil, both like rich greedy corporations and hate the poor. The pope is no more a 'Marxist' than you are a devil, but Rush does show his devil side with this diatribe. The difference between Rush and the Pope is Rush has no credibility.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  6. joelc

    I wish that someone would put a permanent plug into Rush mouth. He is a proven idiot, liar, drug addict and all around sorry person. How dare he confront the Pope like this. I expect all advertising to be pulled from his show.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  7. MikeM

    Shame on CNN for treating comments from that idiot as news, especially with such a high profile headline. Only the intellectually challenged give any credence to the likes of Limback or Beck, yet normally credible sources like CNN continue to give them a voice.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  8. middle america man

    I'm only daydreaming of course, but wouldn't it be neat if Popes were more like they were back during the Crusades? You'd never hear from Rush again...

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  9. KPII

    Wow.. This guy is too much.
    But being addicted to drugs has truly affected this guys mind.
    He wouldn't know Jesus if Jesus was a guest on his show.
    It's time for a real Republican to stand up to this crazy man.
    Jesus did throw the money changers out of the temple and administer to the poor.
    I don't think he would commend Rush for his hateful spews.
    But the Pope is undermining the very vile constructs of most of Rush's ramblings, so I"m sure that's it,

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  10. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    Being a Catholic I am very concerned by some of the Pope's remarks. His remarks could take the Catholic church in the wrong direction just as Obama has taken America in the wrong direction.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  11. Borealbob

    Hey Limbaugh--take your blood money gathered from the feckless sycophant more ons that listen to you and shove it up your Rush---–you go to heck soon- just go.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  12. steve

    As a Republican who can't stand Rush, this is just another reason people like Rush are wrong for the conservative movement. Hey Rush: Leave the religion to the religious and go preach hate somewhere else. You make me sick.

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

    Wait, Rush Limbaugh is still around? I guess it's true the lemmings will always need someone to follow. Poor lemmings, if only you could think for yourselves you would see this vile man for who he really is... an opportunist who makes money off his specialized brand of crazy talk. Hat's off to you, Rush, your b.s. still sticks! Poor lemmings, my heart just breaks for you 🙁 Btw, CNN, why is this newsworthy?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  14. TomGI

    I don't care what Limbaugh says but I don't care what the pope says or does either. To me it's like offsetting penalties in football.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  15. tdurnin

    The GOP has been confusing compassion for Marxism for far too long. Limbaugh's comments feed the right wing agenda to create as much fear as possible in the people they "represent".

    By creating false evils and demons the voters to whom they speak cannot possibly step back and rationally evaluate an issue. When one is obsessed with imagined threats, survival drives thinking and decision making (think Maslow here).

    Pope Francis is living the Gospel, not the feat driven Gospel spewed by so many Fudamentalist, but the Gospel that is reavealed by a simple and honest reading of Jesus' life and ministry.

    The path if history is littered with countless bodies bold enough to stand up and proclaim that Truth. And it is the likes of Limbaugh and Beck that have called for their slaughter.

    This is not a new story. Proclaiming the Gospel has always been a risky business and always there have been those who will call for their destruction.

    Pope Francis may indeed be martyred, literally or figuratively. And he will do so with a smile of compassion and forgiveness.

    Limbaugh will, no doubt, continue to proclaim a Gospel of fear and damnation. He will use theHoly Words to his own ends or abandon them when his purpose is no longer being served. He is, historically speaking, in good company. Even others who have occupied the chair of Peter would embrace his wrathful judgement and righteousness.

    When a man like Pope Francis comes into our lives we begin to understand ourselves and the world in greater clarity. We begin to understand goodness and we are moved to respond.

    These repospinses threaten folks like Rush and Glenn. Clarity and understanding have always threatened those in power. This is no less true today than it was 2000 years ago as Jesus was confronting false authority.

    And while they may, in their time, know victory. Rush Limbaugh stands firmly on the wrong side of history, stands firmly opposed to those things that are so clear and self evident in the hearts of thoughtful, thinking and humble Christians.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  16. Don Lee

    Jesus taught *exactly* those things which Pope Francis is advocating. Look it up. It's easy to find.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  17. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  18. Sister Julia

    Rush is correct in his analysis. Must be a slow news day for CNN to have tis front & center.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Sister Julia

      * this

      December 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  19. Silvia

    Rush Limbaugh represents everything wrong with the right wing conservatives of today. Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln are turning over in their graves. It's a shame that so called Christians like him only chooses to qoute and believes what is convenient for the purposes of promoting their ideals. Christianity is founded on love and charity but that has completely been muddled in modern society. Rush Limbaugh is full of hot air and hinders intelligent dialogue on how to improve society for the next generation. He is a plague.

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

    St. Rush, defender of the wealthy.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:52 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.