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. Ruppert Jenkins

    I've learned through many decades of watching Popes, that it matters very little what they say. They almost never get what they want, and they almost never influence any government policies. I basically agree with Rush with this, but I think he is worrying a bit too much about any consequences.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  2. hrladyship

    Please stop giving this has-been a platform. He's no longer relevant.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Ruppert Jenkins

      Oh my, you're pretty hysterical. And ignorant. That "has-been" has TENS of MILLIONS of listeners, wields huge influence, and makes more money in a day than you do in a year.

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

        And he'll end up a pile of rotting, stinking flesh just like everyone else.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • Pat Ukaleley

        Yes, but you leave out two important points. He does have about 15 million listeners, but by definition, they are pretty much all idiots.Trust me, 100 % of people I have met that admit to listening to Rush are bona fide idiots. Secondly, idiots and their money are soon parted – thats Rush's business model. And a very successful one too.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  3. MER

    Who anointed Rush? He still a fat stupid pig.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Ruppert Jenkins

      Ha ha. It's also very likely that dozens of YOUR heroes are fat (Rosie O'Donnell, Michael Moore, Al Gore,etc) but my gut tells me that you never ever seem to notice the weight of THOSE people.

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

        @Ruppert Jenkins

        Nice reaching. You truly are a Rush listener aren't you!
        Seriously though, all you just did was make it known that you are prone to jumping to foolish conclusions about someone just because they insulted your little hero. You have no idea if MER likes a single person you listed. You're just flailing in the dark (which appears to be a common and sad pattern for Rush fans who seek to blindly defend him). At least MER stated something that was only expressing his personal opinion. You instead leap to the conclusion that because he thinks Rush is a pig he must be automatically be a liberal. It's ignorance like that that undoes your arguments before you ever had a chance. It's a visible and common trait with too many tea party supporters and it's why they will likely stand zero chance in American politics in 2016. Hopefully no overly liberal candidates will either. It's time for new ideas in America. Either way, enjoy your wasted time defending Rush though... Pssst, he doesn't give two flying rat nuggets about you by the way, he just wants ratings and more fools to buy his books.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • MacGregor

          And you're a liberal dooshbag too.

          December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  4. PaEMTP2

    Time to go out and dig up ol' Reagan and round up the Contra Rebels, Ollie North and the death squads … the Commies are back in town looking' to take over the U.S., Mom and Apple Pie!
    Limbaugh your a damn fool!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  5. mb2010a

    Well, we all knew Rush was going to hell anyway...but I think he may have just sealed the deal.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  6. AHA

    Must be a slow news day.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  7. Manny in Cali

    Love this Pope. Rush is an ignorant junkie full of hate. CNN, why is this a headline? Rush's opinions are about as relevant as Kim Kardashian's.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  8. october surprise

    I would think that this over blown neocon gas bag would have other things to do. What's the matter with calling out the rich as greedy pigs? I think what they should be concerned about is what happens when the really poor decide to start taking the rich out and I don't mean to lunch.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  9. paul g murphy

    and i thought Joe McCarthy was dead long ago.I see the Far right wing is still bugged by the Paranoia bug a boo.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  10. Mark

    Just when I thought Rush Limbaugh couldn't get any more stupid......
    Here's Your Sign Rush....

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • paul g murphy

      Really ......

      December 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  11. ScreamingInsaneWorld

    Has anybody here ever actually READ, in the bible, what Jesus' said to his followers? How people should actually live their life as a Christian? "It's easier to push a camel through the eye of a needle than to get a rich man into heaven" Anyone recall that one? Oh wait, you guys just pick and choose from the bible what's convenient to you right?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  12. Rush is a plutocrat

    Pope Francis ROCKS!!!! Finally, the chuch is seperating itself from money...FINALLY Pope Francis is a good and strong soul..and a wonderful leader

    Rush is a plutocrat preaching the word of greed and corruption

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Dom

      Rush u r a true Moron.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Are you Serious?

      Puhleez.. The church will never separate itself from money.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  13. Torete4444

    Always finding how to "hang" unto any news and try to have some airtime.
    What an A........Hole!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  14. Meohmy

    Obviously, Rush has never read the Good Book.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  15. DCKeene

    I guess if the Pope came out for the use of Oxy and multiple marriages, Limbaugh would be waiving the Vatican flag.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • T

      I agree. Although I am not a Catholic but I have been moved in a very profound way the Pope's actions and words almost from the moment he became Pope. His emphasis on God, the human condition and the role of the Church encapsulates the very spirt of the Gospel.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  16. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  17. Emma Morrow

    Liberals can't listen to Rush because he uses big words.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Joel's Bar

      Hey Emma, this liberal challenges you to a spelling and vocabulary contest, anytime. Get back in your hole. Or take up the gauntlet. Means glove, by the way.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Rush is a plutocrat

      BIG words of greed and corruption...Rush is anti jesus

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

      Only big words for you.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • paul g murphy

      Now if Rush could only read the dictionary instead of having it read to him.

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

      I thinking eating too many BIG meals is his problem. He's in a sugar induced coma.

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

      Rush didnt even graduate from college.

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

      Like "give me some more Oxycontin"?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • USMC Vietnam Combat Vet

      Why would anyone listen to this Vietnam War Draft Dodger?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  18. Perry

    Here is a direct quote from Pope Francis' Evangelii: "208. If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affec- tion and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an oppo- nent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centred mentality to be freed from those un- worthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruit- ful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth." Page 163. Can Rush say the same?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  19. Tom

    Did Rush make these comments before or after rehab....its getting harder and harder to tell anymore. In short the Draconian economic policies espoused by Rush have just had the light of Christ shined upon them. We, by virtue of the Gospels are compelled to care for the margins of society not the profit margin of mean spirited capitalism. The 1%ers have ruled for far too long. Say "No" to Rush

    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.