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. haddock

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

    Too right, Francis.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      he has a masters degree in fairy tales.

      hes very smart

      December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • jrzy

      So we gie our trust to corrupt politicians ?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • radar8

      "trickle-down economics," is code for.... The rich will get richer while the poor get poorer. NOTHING trickles down. Even though the top 10% have 80% of the wealth in this country, the poor actually give more to charity than the rich.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  2. mikeinmiami

    Rush Limbaugh should take some more Oxycontin and go lie down.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  3. yuri pelham

    The anti Christ speaks.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  4. Lemon Talks

    how many here have actually read Evangelii Gaudium before you attacked rush?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • radar8

      I guarantee that Rush did (couldn't, actually) read it.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  5. steve p

    This is the lead news story at CNN.com? Slow day, eh?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • dragonfire0477

      meh...Rush is such an easy target for ridicule. All of his problems are a result of his own making. If he'd just shut up, his problems would largely go away.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  6. John Pepp

    Rush Limbaugh has jumped the shark in my book, the Republican Party would do itself a favor if they kicked him out of the Republican Party.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      you are not a republican what do you care?

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

      Republicans would be extremely foolish take advice from a Lefty. Without Limbaugh fans, the remaining Republicans are little more than moderate Democrats.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
      • honestuck

        Maybe they can form a third party?

        December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  7. Leopold Kiefer

    Marxism is a mode of analyzing history, nothing more, nothing less. That was socialist speak rush was outraged about. Historical Materialists, Unite!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  8. Jim

    Read the bible Rush...the early Christians were all socialists. Read first, then open mouth to extract foot.

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

      Yes, and their power grew to such an extent throughout medieval Europe that they burned anyone at the stake that dared disagree with their teachings. Enter Obama....

      December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  9. paul reynolds

    Is this a Story about the Pope being Marxist..!?

    Or about Lush finally believing He is the All-Knowing, All-Seeing GOD..!???

    December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  10. Mark

    When will someone shoot Limbaugh??? I will certainly supply a defense attorney although more than likely the shooter will receive the Congressional & Presidential Medals of Honor and be elected to national office in a landslide. Better yet, just shoot all the members of the GOP!!!

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

      a bit harsh in your reply-if everyone just ignored him and refused to buy from his sponsors he would disappear quickly-but hopeful this silly comment comparing the Pope to a Marxist just because the Pope actually preaches what Jesus said will do it

      December 2, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  11. R Burns

    And WHO takes Limbaugh seriously? As far as I know, this broadcasting commentor is no kind of religious leader. Far from it!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  12. Stephen

    All from a pill popping addict

    December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  13. Rock Reynolds

    Wow! Nazi Rush wants to take on the Pope.

    I'm 60 years old. I grew up believing in Capitalism, because throughout the 50's and 60's, employees were treated fairly, and anyone could get a job. Even an ex-con could get a job at the factory. Keep your nose clean, show up for work, do your job, and you KEPT your job.

    But now, the veils have been lifted from Capitalism, and I now see Capitalism as the Nazi system of choice.

    In the early 60's, folks were worried that computers were going to take our jobs (If you can find it, check out Alan Sherman's hilarious early 60's song, "Automation": "It was automation, I'm told. That's why I'm fired, and I'm out in the cold. It was IBM. It was UNIVAC. It was those machines going clickety-clack, dear...").
    We were told that computers would give us more leisure time. That prophecy turned out to absolutely true!!! But, they "forgot" to tell us, that leisure time was going to be UNPAID.

    I predict the fall of Capitalism within the next decade. Reason – "Rate of Return". The Nazis that run Corporate America are beholden to the stockholders to provide a 5% annual rate of return. This 5% objective has been "easy" to accomplish by firing herds of employees. But Corporate America is now so squeezed for performance, that the layoff of employees required to maintain the "Rate of Return", is absolutely destroying customer service, and companies are now folding. Good!!!

    As for Marxism, Marxism has never been implemented by any government. Governments call themselves "Communist", but there has never been a true "communist" society.

    I have never been a fan of a Pope. But this Pope is saying lots of "non-Pope" things. This Pope has intrigued me. Is this new Pope real change, or just the same old "window dressing" that we've seen so many times before? I'm actually hoping that this Pope represents real change.

    I'm on the Pope's side in this argument.

    Roger Reynard

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

      Could not have stated it any better!!!! LONG LIVE POPE FRANCIS!!!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  14. Lemon Talks

    there are pages and pages of nonsense in Evangelii Gaudium say how wonderful islam is.

    liberals care to comment?

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

      Big deal,
      Its no worse than Christianity.

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

      The Pope is trying to live what Jesus said-you disagree with Jesus???

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • William Jackson

      ILemon In 2 paragraphs the Pope says we should respect the beliefs of Muslims who are open and understanding of the beliefs of others. There are no pages and pages of paeans to Islam. So I must conclude you are off your med's or possibly just a liar.

      December 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  15. NeoKat1

    Of course! It's easier to criticize the Pope than to actually open up your pocket and help the poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  16. pws1121

    Yes, I believe capitalism is wrong. Where individuals invest in businesses to only get a return on their investment or to capitalize on the pain and suffering of the underpaid working class. That is why I now subscribe to "isms". We feel it is better to give up some our individual freedoms in order for an "ism" or state to take care of us. The state will make decisions on how much crops will be grown, how the food is dispersed, what will be manufactured, what people will be paid and how and on what the money will be spent. In our system of "ism", individualists such as capitalists will no longer exist because the state will control investing and growth.

    Today, under the Obama administration, states rights are being undermined by a centralized government; that is, local decisions are being made by political elitists in a central government in Washington. The American citizens want a government that takes care of you from "cradle to grave"; they voted for it and now that's how it's turning out.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  17. Charles

    I knew it wouldn't be long before the so called Christian Conservatives would raise their ugly heads. The pope is now a target in their sights.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  18. Bea

    Pope Francis has won people over by living humbly and teaching by example. Rush Limbaugh is a bloviating windbag who does nothing but spew Right wing nonsense. How dare he speak ill of this Pope??? He's the best thing to happen to the Vatican in many years.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  19. Dave - Phx

    LOL and the religous right will listen to Rush more than the pope.

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

      You are correct, Rush is there Jesus and Reagan is their God.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  20. Ann

    Limbaugh is making a big mistake by going after the Pope. He's gonna lose a lot of Catholic listeners. The Pope isn't talking about politics or government. He's speaking to the individual...that we must all care for the poor and that greed is wrong. That's nothing new to Catholic teachings.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Airwear78

      You probably have never heard Rush with the exception of articles such as these. Who cares about the pope? Does he have anything to do with the next choice you make throughout your day? Pope attacks capitalism...enough said.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • jinx9to88

      The problem is that alot of people claim to be Catholic but are not. GOP always shout out religion and church but how many religion and churches turn their backs on the poor and hungry? GOP needs alot less talking and alot more action.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
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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.