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. Jim

    We really shouldn't care what a man who claims to speak to an invisible friend or a fat talk show host have to say.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  2. Jann

    Why does CNN continute to report non-news? Who care what Rush Limbaugh says? Why are you keeping this clown in the news? Is it any wonder CNN's ratings are tanking?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • betty

      And yet you read it. Seems to me they are doing what they are supposed to do and getting a response from people.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  3. seafoodwatch

    They both make money by running their mouths.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  4. Jeremy

    Yeah, I always thought they have made economics something that only certified people can understand. (scam)

    December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  5. Nate Scott

    What is sad is that anything Rush has to say gets on CNN. Report some real news CNN.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • betty

      Got your attention didn't it? Seems to me they are doing their job.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  6. ChuckChucklesAgain

    The correct news is the Supreme Court deals a Death Blow to Christian colleges.

    Libs, can see now how ObamaCare is comming to an end ???

    December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • RCC

      Limbaugh has always been a mouthpiece for business and idiots who cannot think for themselves, Rush forgot what he was supposed to do with his second coat if he is a Christian

      December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  7. oneSTARman

    Can't you just picture Rush's head spinning around as the the Green Puke shoots out of his mouth

    December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  8. interesting

    Rush has such massive influence, the question is why? Because he is a great light of truth that people follow. That's why everyone on the left hates him. Rush tells the truth.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • KDW

      Rush tells what you want the truth to be. Truth is inherently subjective after all.
      The greater point is that he spews selfishness and hate. He actively divides society in a time where technology should be breaking down the logistical barriers that have kept humanity divided over the course of history.

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

    how many here attacking rush for his comments have actually read Evangelii Gaudium ???

    why wont anyone answer me?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • sammiclark

      Who cares! Everything this drug addict has to say is NOTHING but hate! He is a useless member of society that should be in jail based on HIS OWN WORDS. "All drug addicts should be in prison". When he goes to prison and serves his time for HIS ADDICTION then maybe he will have something to say.

      Besides, how can a man married FIVE times claim to know ANYTHING at all about morals much less politics!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Rascal262

      Because you've amply demonstrated you misunderstand the definition of "marxism". We have no time for you.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • al newman

      Lemon: please first read the Gospel of Matthew.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  10. paul reynolds

    How and Why is that WartHOG Drug Addict still even Relevant..!???

    FACT: Your Messiah "LUSH" has a total of ZERO actual Political Credentials – No Education, Degree, Experience, Results!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  11. Ian

    Today at dinner, grab the gravy boat, pour all of it out onto your plate, and assure your dumbing down GOP buffoon guest it will eventually trickle down to them.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  12. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  13. Merle Fischlowitz

    Perhaps Limbaugh should review the gospel in "New Testament" 1 Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is the root of all evil."
    And the Hebrew prophet Michah: 'What does the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with they God.?" No one had accused either Timothy or Michah of being "Marxist." Limbaugh's ignorance extends as much to his mis-interpretation of Marxism as to his distortion of Christianity.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  14. Milwaukee Eastsider

    It's pretty irrelevant what Rush Limbaugh says. He made his career out of red-baiting & race-baiting. Everyone who disagrees with him is a Marxist in his own book. Especially someone who criticizes capitalism like the Pope did. I guess it's not politically correct for him to say anything against capitalism....right Rush? Why don't you go back to your drugs

    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  15. nuts

    the Christian Taliban mouthpiece hath spoken....
    Mr Jesus embraces rush and the gang hating on others cuz its the religon of peace and love

    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  16. Scott

    Pop Quiz....Who will the hateful jerks on this comment section slam when left with a choice between organized religion and Rush Limbaugh???? Heads may explode.

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

      religion is a disease, choose the cure.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  17. al newman

    Flush never has understood either or Christianity or Marxism. Wish we could bottle all that gas belching from his mouth. We'd be energy self-sufficient.

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

    To which the Pope replied, "Who is Rush Limbaugh?".

    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  19. Non-Christian

    This pope is awesome!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  20. MillieNeon

    Marx was just one of many people who spoke up against slave wages and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. And now, any time someone thinks labor should get a better deal then being at the whims of the super wealthy who want to pay less and less in wages so they can gorge themselves on more and more, someone like Rush screams "Marxism". Ridiculous. The super rich have plundered our treasury with war profiteering and moving jobs offshore so they can drive down wages. And they've been successful. Look at the difference in terms of value of wages now and 20 years ago. The middle class is collapsing. Without a strong middle class, this country can't maintain democracy and freedom.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:12 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.