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. Cartman42

    Thank you Rush Limbaugh!!! It's about time someone stood up to this do-gooder Pope, and thank you for championing what really matters... Money! Screw the poor and sick. Fight to take away health care for them, because the only thing better than an oppressed poor person is a dead poor person. I applaud you for standing up for the REAL core values of the Republican Party. It sickens me how a lot of Republicans pretend to care about the poor and minorities, when nothing matters more than MONEY, sweet wonderful MONEY. Your words are a breath of fresh air in this stench filled country (the poor are very dirty too...). Thank you again, and may your words of true Republicanism reach the ears of all so they will know that the petty lives of the poor are completely valueless, and if ANYTHING comes between the GOP and a slightly higher return on investments, you will be there to fight for the already fabulously wealthy!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • cross eyed mary


      December 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      watch out, i am not sure everyone will spot the sarcasm there cartman.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
      • NelsonLeonard

        If they don't, they shouldn't watch Stephen Colbert!

        December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Anne C.

      I love you Cartman42. You are the most "wonderfully" sarcastic person on this earth. Wish I had said what you said.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  2. DarqueSide

    Yet another reason for this agnostic to like and admire this new pope. Thanks, Rush – keep being the mouthpiece of GOP hate... the DNC appreciates it.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  3. Anne Campbell

    Why, oh why did I bother to read anything that has Rush Limbaugh's name attached to it? I only get frustrated that we still bother to even open the blog, post or stupidity, whatever you want to call it, but this time he is attacking a religious man who only wants to make life better for all poor people, not just his people. I am not Catholic, but I believe as the Pope does, "all men, women and children should have enough to eat, something to wear and a place to go to worship". The place to go to worship is not at the feet of Rush Limbaugh. This will probably shock Rush and his Rushanites, but it is true.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  4. Cowl Mike

    wait just a minute.....

    noramly liberals are attacking the catholics

    but in this case the liberals are siding with religion? what about all that sky fairy stuff?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      You make the mistake of thinking liberal equals atheist.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • NelsonLeonard

      Hold on to your hat, Cowl. I am a Catholic liberal. Do I go along with everything "liberal"? No. But then I do not go along with everything in any belief system, including statements by some Catholic authorities.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  5. Liam

    This is one of the very few times I actually agree with Limbaugh on something; hell must have frozen over. Pro-Life, Abortion hating nutters are Marxists. Too bad Rush also happens to fall into this category. 😉

    December 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • cjacja

      Yes, this is good, not only pro-life but RELIGIOUS. I think it is Limbaugh who does not know who Marx was. In fact I'm pretty sure he doesn't

      December 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  6. Rush Limpburger

    The new pope talks the talk and walks the walk in regards to the poor. He is ver y humble. Rush on the other hand is a fat, bloated radio talk show host that is vastly overpaid to spread the gospel of hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  7. Mr. Bo

    Same man who used Doctors for his prescription binge but that is okay? You are not Catholic so where does your misinformation come from? What religion does he claim

    December 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  8. CHUCK

    Capitalism has been and always will be redistribution of wealth. From all of us to the top few. The rate of that exchange has quadrupled in recent years. Right wingers are brainwashed into thinking that something will trickle down to them.The "pursuit of happiness" was never intended to be a lifelong struggle with debt until you die..If the model of capitalism in the USA had the goal of balance instead of "the sky is the limit to profit" at the top of the pyramid then everyone would benefit..great wealth could still be generated and at the same time the middle class would have a chance to be reborn. When the theory of capitalism has the human element added it becomes as corrupt as any other system if not more so.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • nclefty

      Write on!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  9. Mel Stricker

    I wonder how Bill O'Reilly (a very Catholic person on FOX) likes what Rush has to say about the leader of Bill's religion.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  10. Scholar

    I don't think the Pope would approve of the so-called "philosophy" of Ayn Rand one bit.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  11. Rosslaw

    I am liking Pope Francis more and more. He should put the comments from "Rush", the most aptly named drug addict of all time, on his personal resume.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  12. Sara

    What a little attention seeking weasel. These pseudo Christians are CINOs and as Jesus said he'll probably spit out of his mouth. Limbaugh should be called out by most Christians because he's nothing like Christ and follows men/money versus Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  13. Leonardo Padron

    Rush must me desperate for some PR. Back off of the pain killers you.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  14. Liz

    A right wing commentator is whining about someone mixing politics and religion? Really?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • ThisIsRubbish

      What does that have to do with anything? Did you even read the article? The point is that the Pope is ignorant. He means well, but he's ignorant. He, just like the rest of the world's politicians, is merely a puppet. It's sad, but he's not the first heretic Pope, and he won't be the last. "The Chair is Empty"

      December 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
      • cedar rapids

        And you base this claim on what specifically?

        December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
      • Liz

        Did you read the article?
        “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.”

        December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • cjacja

        Francis is anything _but_ ignorant. There is just a fundamental split between him and the Republican right wing. One group has a goal of "How can I personally have more money" and others ask "How can I help make the world a better place?"

        Don't call Francis ignorant because he does not share your goal.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • NelsonLeonard

        Don't let your hatred of Catholicism (or just Catholicism of late?) influence you. I wouldn't count on the Pope paying much attention to your post. I am only doing so because I do not want to clean the garage, today. LOL

        December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
      • Stalk Forrest

        The Pope is ignorant because he wants to help the poor ?
        Seems to me, YOU are the IGNORANT one.
        I shouldn't be surprised.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  15. Karen

    You know you must be doing something right if Rush hates it!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  16. Tim

    Rush and Sarah Palin: 2 peas in a pod that really need to go away. to call Rush a retard is an insult to those with disabilities, but I gotta do it anyway.my apologies.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Scholar

      Both Rush and Sarah demonstrate conclusively the "Peter Principle". They reached and surpassed their level of competence some time ago and now they are demonstrating their incompetence in their present positions.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Scholar

      I really hope that the SNL writers get informed of these two, Palin and Limbaugh. I can see the skit now.
      They offer us so much in the way of unanticipated mirth, sort of like an old Keystone Kops one-reeler.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • joe

      use of the term "retard" is offensive.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
      • G to the T

        ...unless referring to a road that was recent paved...

        December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  17. SurelyUjest

    Finally Christians comming back to Jesus's and then we have the devils advocate working for the rich and empowered to hold the status quo. Thanks Rush, once again you prove yourself the last of old gaurd mouth pieces.

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

    Francis vs. Limbaugh? Rush is too puny and his babble mere entertainment.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  19. David

    Welllll . . . . wait til he figures out Jesus was Socialist. Now what?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Sara

      Jesus was more of a Marxist. He wanted wealthy people to give up the thing they loved the most, their possessions, and give them to the poor.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
      • Bill

        Jesus asked some people to do that "OF THEIR OWN FREE WILL" not by "GOVERNMENT MANDATE"...which is what Socialism is.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • Stalk Forrest

          Government is giving all the money to the rich.
          The rich fixed it that way.
          Part of this you don't get ?

          December 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  20. David

    Rush, still in a drug induced stupor! Don't touch his capitalism, he needs to buy more drugs!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:17 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.