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. Topher

    Or better yet, let's not listen to either of them and instead look to Christ for direction.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  2. unowhoitsme

    ...and Rush would wash the feet of prisoners, touch the man with leprosy, and love the poor people around him? Only if he was on drugs!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  3. randy graham

    hey rush, do you realize that marxism considers a lower form of communism to be socialism, which is because they can't get to true communism which is when no one is in control of the pot (or common distribution), but because of human greed someone has to control it–hence socialism. maxism considers another form of communism which is a higher form, where you work, contribute and get what you need. Didn't Jesus practice a true form of communism? get your head out of your -. think before you speak. thinking however is also marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • spinster

      And you are all for the compulsory (gov't controlled) redistribution of the assets of the rich. And you will be for it when they get the upper middle class perhaps. But will you be so fond of it when they come to take money from you? When they reach down to the Western middle class to force you to give another 10, 20, 30, 40% or so for globalized redistribution, i'm sure the howling will be loud. Its ironic that the Pope is calling upon the government to do the Church's work by way of mandated 'charity'.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • randy graham

        hope you ain't talking to me. i just said there is no way it will happen. it can't–whenever humans get control–bad s- happens. greed

        December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  4. ChuckChucklesAgain

    Not big news, many in the Catholic Church are full fledged Marxists.

    This latest Pope is trying to drum up business for the Church by playing the latest demographic trends, being a populist to the common man in the street.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  5. caw

    Wow...this could be fun. Considering the Catholics are one of the biggest supporters of the GOP for their stance on abortion, Rush is doing his best to destroy the Republican Party from the inside.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  6. Cmahone

    This Pope is Illuminatii,even though I am Catholic, I will not follow this pope

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

      As expected, many of we Catholics cringe when someone actually asks us to follow what the gospel says about Jesus's teachings. For many of us, the church is more about support for our self-righteousness rather than helping our fellow man. We wag our fingers or just look with disapproval on anyone, including our fellow Catholics, who trips up in the slightest on executing medieval dogmatic minutia, because critquing in this manner allows us to feel superior.

      Fortunately, many more Catholics have been following the core of the gospel message all along, so the church will do just fine. In fact, it will do much better. Thank you, Francis, for beginning to guide the church in a more useful, constructive direction.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • GOP_R_Traitors

        Jeff...You do know that one can "follow the teachings of the Gospel" WITHOUT having the subscribe to a religion, yes? After being taught the gospels, it was supposed to be evidently clear that one was then prepared to do the works. It was not required to get fill ups every Sunday. All Religion should be like Medicine, teach the person what they feel they need to survive, and then let the person live their life. If they cannot live their life without constant reminding and reinforcing of poor teachings, then the teachings aren't worth C-R-A-P. If you set the people up to have to come back to you to get their dosage, then you have only successfully created a zombie.
        You know "Teach a man to fish..." parable.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Tminotas

      You won't follow him because he is trying to preach for the common good of all, to support and show compassion to the poor, to stop the exploitation of humans for work? Isnt that what god and jesus want. God sent moses to free his people from pharaoh's slavery. this is kind of what the pope is trying to preach. When the rich rob the poor this is what we capitalism. In a capitalist society the rich get richer and the poor keep on getting poor. Yea some Christian/Catholic you are.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  7. woodie

    Rush Limbaugh was an idiot, and now he is a world-class idiot.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  8. Jim

    ...so that he sits as God[a] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
    2 Thessalonians 2:4

    December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  9. Soulpsyched

    Slow news day everyday for cnn

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

      The problem lies with you. You are reading a blog and assume it is news? Get a clue fool.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • Soulpsyched

        Touchy. God bless. Nothing but love for you. 🙂

        December 3, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  10. dadatruth

    Does Limpbaugh really think that JC was a capitalista? Does he want the Pope to preach green greed? Should the Church leaders reside on Wall Street cheering the bulls onward? The sad thing is that CNN actually puts Él Señor Cerdo on the front page.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  11. Woody

    They are jut two men with a difference of opinion on things . We have to remember all the human is is a mammal sharing 96% of our DNA with a chimp . And no I am not calling earthier a chimp but both men are mammals . We also have to remember the bible actually has several human authors of stories and the church decided which ones they liked best and which ones would bring the most people into church so the church could get money . Well it must have worked because one pries recently spent 43,000,000.00 on his home in Germany ! So much for the church using the excuse they cater to the poor when they actually cater to themselves ! I know ! I was one of those Altar boys ,and yes I have been to Rome and I also know Jesus if he was was born on the continent of Asia at Asia Minor . And Guess what ! Asia Minor is the area of Syria too where no one wants to go save all of those kids from being killed ! So much for good will tword men except for the priest ! The human mammal priest . Like any human mammal man it is all about the ratings they get and the money they get to create a contraversy ! I think we should send both of these men to North Korea just to see how they act and trade both in for the poor 85 year old fella that was actually trig to be remorseful for the things he thought he did wrong to people . Because both the pope , the church, and rush are but mammals on a planet mining for gold . The old guy in North Korea was just trying to find a way so heaven would accept him .

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

    I'm not surprised. Rush's position on the matter is the same as most conservatives. Let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  13. john.deatherage

    When did the Church divest itself of it's great wealth? I missed that story.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  14. Edwin

    To say Lumbaugh is a fool is, well, obvious. Why does anyone still care what this m0ron thinks?

    JW, however, makes a very good point. Conservatives shout LOUDLY that this is country is founded on Christian Ideals - but when those ideals are uncomfortable (decrying the evil of greed, promoting compassion and charity and equity, actively helping the poor), conservatives distance themselves from it. Apparently, religion is only good when it helps you achieve your political goals.

    The claim that the Pope's message is "Marxist" is ludicrous and ignorant, but more importantly it helps prove the Pope's point. Limbaugh and his followers are so intensely devoted to their God of Capitalism that they no longer believe in a God of Love, a God of Justice, or a God of Compassion and Mercy. Limbaugh is correct when he notes that the Pope is not a fan of uncontrolled capitalism, and in Limbaugh's mind that is tantamount to heresy. After all, if you worship Greed, then any Pope that says 'Greed is wrong' should be marginalized and ridiculed.

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

      They do not want to admit that Jesus was a liberal.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  15. ug

    So does ovomit...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  16. alexdane436

    He does have a point if people can get past the gigantic bold letters on the CNN headline. It's just that he comes off as if that's a bad thing. Jesus wasn't a capitalist. So Rush is just now figuring this out? Sorry, just becuase you are a right wing conservative nut, doesn't mean that the core message of Christianity should be small government, no taxes, biggotry, etc.

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

      But you miss one of the key points - to Limbaugh, who worships the God of Capitalism, the Pope is spouting heresy. To Limbaugh, calling someone Marxist is akin to calling them the devil - and he does not grasp the difference. So devout is Limbaugh to his God of Greed that he believes Capitalism is Holy; further, he believes that fact should be obvious to everyone else.

      The same phenomenon occurs when conservatives call Obama a Marxist or Socialist - or even, to some extent, when they call him a Muslim (though the connection is somewhat convoluted): since they believe Obama is bad, he must oppose the Purity of Capitalist Thought - regardless of what policies Obama advocates. In the mind of many modern American conservatives, Capitalism IS Divinity - but many get confused because they *think* that they worship Jesus instead…

      December 2, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  17. Mike

    Behold! Rush Limbaugh...the face of the Republican Party and all that is wrong in the world!
    I wonder how this is going to play out with Mr. "I found Jesus and the Catholic faith when I served divorce papers to my wife on her deathbed" Newt Gingrich. What does Newt have to say to Rush?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  18. John

    Who gives a rats ass what that fat over paid bag of horse dung says! Crawl back to your republican teat and stay there!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  19. Michael Schanz

    It is not the first time that Rush is on the wrong side of history and it will not be the last. The pope is trying to uplift society by getting us to reflect and question while Rush is criticize and spread negativity. A lot of very educated and well positioned people in business happen to agree with the pope and not Rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  20. Tim Jones

    If one feeds the poor they are called a saint. If one asks why there are so many, they called a Communist. para phrase from a south American Cleric, now deceased.

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

      The priest was Hélder Pessoa Câmara, who served in Brazil in the 1960s through 1980s: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist."

      December 2, 2013 at 2:33 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.