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. Guest

    Obama is the Marxist we should be most concerned about.

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


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

      The hyperbole approach is getting tired.

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

      You tell 'em, guest. Shake your fist in the air and tell 'em again.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  2. Erik Kaiser

    I stand firm with Rush. The pope is a joke just like the Catholic religion. I once was a Catholic until I realized these morons supported Hitler and his ilk in WWII by making a deal with the Nazis so they would not be killed. Not only is the pope disengenious but he is bigget. What religiong requires to be its own sovereign nation from within another nation ? If they believe in god and equality then dont preach it like the pope does try practicing it. The Catholics are way out in left field with the rest of the lefties. If I were a Catholic I would get out of that nutty group of dooped fools.

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

      I think you're talking about all religion.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • Erik Kaiser

        No I am not speaking of all religion. There are Christian groups like Methodists & Lutherans that I know of that do not support imposing any restrictions on people based on the bible. In fact nothing in the bible gives anyone the right to do so in the name of God. Nut jobs who do not understand the bokk they are reading impose these beliefs on there own not by what God asks of you as a Christian. You live your life by the bible and practice what you preach. From that idea you will attract others to your good life. Not by legislating Christian idealogy in the name of for the people. Christians who behave in this type of a manor are clueless and are no diferent then the muslims.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • The Troof

      With a last name like 'Kaiser', maybe you shouldn't be bringing up WWII and the Nazis...

      December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  3. Simon

    This is not newsworthy! Tons of crazy people say crazy things all the time! What is CNN doing putting this on their main page, it just lends some idiot legitimacy!

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

    Uh oh. Rush must have run out of his oxy ... he is getting a bit testy, isn't he? The Pope is telling us to care for the poor and to not be obsessed with money? How dare he! Nevermind that this is exactly what Jesus told us to do and he is pretty much just actually following the teachings of Christ. I mean, I know that it isn't exactly cool to expect Christians to actually follow the teachings of Christ these days ... but good for the Pope. If you don't want to live the life Christ called you to live, then by all means, denounce Christianity and join another religion or become an atheist. What you don't get to do is try to rewrite Christianity to suit your own lifestyle - yes, prosperity gospel followers, I'm talking to you. Jesus cared for the weak and poor. He embraced the outcasts. He said you cannot serve both God and mammon. It is such a shame that so few Christians actual agree with the values of Jesus.

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

      Good for you. You hit the nail right on the head! It is painful to watch the republican party bury the poor deeper into poverty while in the meantime support giving the rich more money. Then they turn around piously and say what "good Christians" they are. They must have a different Bible than the rest of us have..

      December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  5. lolz

    Rush is horrible, but I have to agree here... I just don't understand why anyone would want to work really hard and become successful if everyone's getting handouts anyway... why bother? if you're getting free stuff, why try?

    Instead of poor people thinking they need more money, because some people have it – how about looking for inner peace? Hey pope, how about you teach your disciples to not care about material things? Teach them that money doesn't buy happiness, it buys things. Teach them to take care of themselves. Or not, and just hope that I'll be willing to give a portion of my paycheck to someone who doesn't even try....

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

      you have completely misunderstood the Pope's message. Using Limbaugh as your source, without your own research is sad.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  6. Michael

    Change is always difficult.
    It is fought for by those who have nothing to lose;
    welcomed by those who believe in something better to work for;
    resisted by those who already have everything and feel threatened by the thought of having to compete;
    screamed at by dinosaur types whose refusal to evolve dooms them to extinction.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  7. Mark273

    The republican pope has spoken.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  8. CBliss

    I grew up in the Catholic church. Until she passed away a few years ago, I would go down and take my Grandmother to Mass every Sunday morning. There were several times when cards were distributed during the service with neatly typed notes to various political officials, all of which were in blatant support of the Republican agenda.. We were asked to sign our names and deposit them into the collection baskets along with our weekly contributions to the church. The church would happily pay for the postage to send all of our cards. Both my grandmother and I disagreed with many of the issues we were asked to sign off on. If we failed to sign our cards, we were often asked to have it completed by the end of the service or even given dirty looks by those collecting. I remember during one service, we were told that if we voted for anyone aside from President George W. Bush, we would be considered sinners and unfaithful followers of the Catholic church. So yes Sarah Palin, the church has always tried to influence politics, the way its parishioners vote...Pope Francis is beginning to restore my faith in the church. To me, Christianity, Spirituality, etc...should be about helping others, the giving of ourselves in service out of love for our fellow human beings. No need to clutch your conservative pocket books, The Pope is speaking to those with Godliness in their hearts, not Rush Limbaugh nor Sarah Palin.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  9. ACe

    I hope ALL Catholics around the world come down hard on Rush "Oxycontin Druggie" L*mpb@lls & ask their folloers t boycott his sponsors!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  10. Bob

    "Francis's critique of unrestrained capitalism is in line with the Church's social teaching."

    Is this the same people that teach theories of heIIfire, the trinity, and purgatory? Which are all false. Hmmm

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

      Just because YOU think Hellfire isn't real doesn't mean that the churches teaching is wrong. Personally I hope hell IS real, I certainly think that there are many people who have earned a first class ticket to the place, starting with Limbaugh.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  11. Guest

    Our president is the Marxist we need to be most worried about.

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

      Really, Stock market at record highs, food stamps cut, people required to pay private companies money every month, taxes for the wealthy at record lows........ WORST MARXIST EVER!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
      • Kelly

        hahahahha... so true.. so true

        December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

      Yeah, that single payer medical and support of the workers over the capitalist makes him a Marxist. Wal-Mart does not pay its people enough to eat so the government picks up the slack for them. Obama may be a Marxist but he is hiding it well.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  12. Vstarguy

    Limbaugh, a small voice, a big wind in an ocean of greed what else can be said about this iconic "good ole' boy" farce!.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  13. Michael

    How dare the Pope condemn Rush's wealth. We all know how charitable Rush is. He donates all the money he can spare on the Tea Party republicans. I can remember seeing a video clip during the first year of the recession commenting to his audience "I don't know what recession they are talking about. I made 40 million dollars last year". Rush is the embodiment of Capitalism. He lives for money and power. How could the Pope put the poor ahead of that?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  14. BSH

    CNN is awful. What an entertainer says about the Pope is not news.

    Besides which, Limbaugh has some work to do if he wants to be considered a good Christian, in keeping with Christ's saying that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Rush, as a very successful entertainer, is very, VERY rich.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  15. tateman

    Good ole Rush. Still the same big fat idiot spewing hot air. It's nice that some things never change.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  16. momzna

    In a sense he is right. Marxism/Communism to the great extent is the New Testament rewritten with different terminology.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  17. Mari

    The POPE is not a politician. Sadly he has been touted that way in the past. The POPE is supposed to be a vessel for Christ on earth...he really isn't anymore or less than you or I BUT for politics which have infected the church. Has anyone read the Bible lately?? Which calls us to give to the poor and feed the hungry...in fact in certain pages instructs us to turn our backs on our riches and spread the Good News...stop trying to make faith political and look to the Bible if you want to understand why the Pope has said what he is saying.... He is not a pawn of the right wing rather a SERVANT of Christ....

    December 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  18. wells

    "As an essential part of its fight against all forms of terrorism, the international community is called to undertake new and creative political, diplomatic and economic initiatives aimed at relieving the scandalous situations of gross injustice, oppression and marginalization which continue to oppress countless members of the human family. History in fact shows that the recruitment of terrorists is more easily achieved in areas where human rights are trampled upon and where injustice is a part of daily life.”
    Pope John Paul II

    December 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  19. GT58

    Well Rush needs to read the book of Acts. It describes the new church as members sharing what they had with each other.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  20. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 1:56 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.