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. disanitnodicos

    Impeach the commie pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  2. Rally

    Rush is that fat kid in the grocery store I want a lolly pop, what does he know about Christianity. He is a bigot, self centered monster who stirs up the pot so he can make millions off the backs of his audience. Anybody that listens to this crazy guy needs counseling.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Thomas Calderon

      You just said what I was about say thank you.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  3. ahoushma

    How much did CNN get paid to put Rush on the top of the front page?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  4. JW

    This is absolutely hilarious. When religions are shouting at anyone who will listen that gays are evil and Obama is the devil, the GOP hypocrites certainly don't mind tying their religion to their politics. Pat Robertson, anyone?

    Now, suddenly, the leader of one if the world's largest religions starts speaking some sense and it's "how dare they tie religion and politics together?? Who does The Pope think he is???" Hypocrites, much?

    Well, guess what Catholics? This guy speaks the word of GOD and is INFALLIBLE so choke on it. You didn't question their anti- gay policy so fall in line like good sheep now. He's the Pope. You can't just listen to him and believe when it suits you. It's the INFALLIBLE WORD OF GOD that you are hearing. Obey.

    It just goes to show how far apart we are as people that when The Pope starts saying some actual Christian stuff I agree with, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh's heads explode with righteous anger and conspiracy theory.

    Word of God, people. Choke on it or go to hell.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Joel's Bar

      the Pope is a human being. Not divine. Not related to divinity. And certainly not infallible. I'm a Christian, not a Catholic. The Pope is human. Which means he's fallible. Which he will affirm himself. Stop foaming at the mouth. You damage the cause of Christ.

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

      i bet your gay and that the reason you agree with him

      December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
      • Abe

        the reply was for JW

        i bet your gay and that the reason you agree with him

        December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • DCKeene

          Such intellectualism, Abe. Now go change your diaper.

          December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Rush is a plutocrat

      It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

      Why do you think that is? It isn't because the Rich have the money, its because they lose their soul with the power they have with it..and become selfish and Greedy with it..

      December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Tim Jones

      Where is the love?

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

      Well said...... thank you.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  5. Eric

    I guess Limbaugh is lucky he doesn't live in a time when he could be (and likely would have been) put to death for saying even less than this.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  6. Truth

    The poop(e) is Marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Shhhh

      Your Truth is faulty. Just like Rush is.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  7. Flash

    CNN, you suck.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  8. Zoey Kay

    Wow, I didn't realize that the teachings of Jesus Christ as shown in the Bible was Marxism!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Lemon Talks


      December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |

        She is not deaf; please use your inside voice.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • Biolaw

        Not very familiar with the teachings of Jesus are you (...feed the hungry, heal the sick, etc.)?

        December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Zac

      I don't think Christ ever preached about the need for governmental regulations, just the need for individuals to be charitable. I can hand my own money to charity, but I will never vote for someone else to be forced to do the same.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • RJ

        Well said Zac

        December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
      • ppjpslc

        uhhhh render unto Caesar?

        December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • richunix

      Maybe Mysticism, but not Marxism.
      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  9. Johnny

    This is hilarious. Most of you people attacking Limbaugh for what he said are the same people who regularly malign organized religion and Catholics in general. You are only attacking Limbaugh today because you hate him more. Makes you pretty sad.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Chuck88888

      Bingo! Plus, CNN knows it's base. Whenever they want to drive up "clicks" they know they just need to mention "Rush" or "Palin", and the useful idiots come out of the woodwork like clockwork.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • cynthia

        Wow, you don't even suspect how ridiculous you sound. A right winger, limbaugh apologist, FOX disciple accusing others of being influenced by a news organization (of course calling FOX a news source is really stretching the facts). If there was a home for ignorant-by-choice hypocrites you'd have a prime room. sheesh

        December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  10. Tamarde

    It should be opposite: POPE is not Marxism, but Carl Marx is POPEism.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  11. Deez

    The Right is now turning on their own.

    It's great to see them eat themselves!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  12. Olga

    The best endorsement to Pope: Rush L doesn't like him... Long live the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  13. ACe

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

    December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  14. bobB

    Who cares what that fat blowhard thinks? Stop reporting on him. Stop giving him the attention he craves.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  15. Bill

    Interesting that Stuart Varney does NOT know the difference between an economic system and a political system.
    The pope is NOT criticizing a political system. He is criticizing an economic system.
    Two totally different things.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Walt Clayton

      Don't you think Rush should "come out of the closet" is the source of Marxism?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
      • Walt Clayton

        "out" and say Jesus is the source of Marxism that is... of course I say "Lead us on" dear Pope and toward the highest truth and good.

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

      ALL ECONOMIC SYSTEMS ARE POLITICAL!!! The idea that you can have an economic system functioning apart from politics is pure fantasy, nothing more.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  16. Batman

    The Pope is truly spreading the teachings of Christ – by Actions and Deeds. You don't have to be Catholic to appreciate this, every religion I know of sends this positive message.

    Except Rush of course, how would he understand something this simple philosophy. To him Conservative=Rich get Richer.

    I wish I had even 0.1% of this Pope's faith.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  17. yeah.toast!

    This is just another non-story thrown out like raw meat to be devoured by liberals so that they can get their two minutes hate for the day out of their system. Liberals are mindless grazing cattle. They are not intelligent enough to actually realize that the ENTIRE government is pure evil. Rush is evil. Obama is evil. Bush was evil. But liberals and conservatives feel the need to choose sides. It's more fun to insult someone who disagrees with you than spending time looking up something called FACTS. The media has done an amazing job of dividing us. The weak minded fall for their bias every single time.

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

      How is NASA or the Peace Corps evil?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
      • Walt Clayton

        Gosh... if the Pope is, then they must be too.

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

      Thus far, toastie, you're the one here spewing hate.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  18. Pete

    The only people dumber than rush Limbaugh are the people who publish news articles about him.

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

      Then , what does that say about people who comment on that article?

      December 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
  19. Church of Suicidal

    The mouthpiece of the Party of Stup1d.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • yeah.toast!

      And the left isn't? You're actually pleased with the current administration? I could tell you to grow up or wake up but people like you are too far gone. You type a short monosyllabic sentence of insults and move on because that's all you can do.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Church of Suicidal

      Am I pleased with the current admin? No. There are many things that could be done better. Do I think those things would have been done better by the candidates offered by the Republicans? Don't make me laugh. Remind me again about the Republican's comprehensive overhaul to our health care system. For that matter, show me any Republican plan that doesn't boil down to "the poor take it in the neck".

      December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  20. Lemon Talks



    FOXNEWS TOP HEADLINE IS The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to ObamaCare brought by a Virginia-based Christian university, ending for now one of the biggest remaining legal fights against the health care law.



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

      Because the Supreme Court ruling is a no-brainer. Oh wait...so is Limbaugh.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Saboth

      Why is a crazy lawsuit by a wingnut evangelical college more newsworthy?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Deez

      Oh, so Fox is attacking Left? Go figure!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:00 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.