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. microflite

    In the future ignore this moron instead of giving him and CNN the attention they seek. As an example of pure capitalism not working CNN provides not news but entertainment and whatever it takes to get people's attention.

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

      Rush works or is on FoxNews (a real misnomer) not CNN. Although CNN is almost as bad.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  2. mani

    why do we listen to anything and everything that rush has to say, moreover fox has to say??

    December 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  3. yeshua

    Well, Jesus was communist, so...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  4. paul reynolds

    The POPE or the Arrested, Drug Addict, ZERO Credentials, Messiah WartHOG who thinks He is now GOD

    – Which will the Republicon blind Followers Choose!??

    December 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  5. kevin

    I bet Rick Santorums head just exploded.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  6. Nick

    The Caltholic Church is a joke and always has been. Why people follow this backwards religion, is beyond me. They tend to forget the crusaides, which puts them on par with the muslim world.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Norm

      Please explain how the Crusades affected you.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • paul reynolds

        Blister on his foot

        December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • Norm

          Maybe he got turned into a newt?

          December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  7. Raj

    The SUN won't be diminished by spitted at.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  8. jed clampett

    When is the last time Rush Limbaugh imbraced a disfigured man? Actions speak louder than money.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  9. whatyouare8891

    Pope, dude.....if there was ever a time for a miracle.....Rush needs extended vacation. Please.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  10. Spirit1

    Rush Limbaugh, is obviously IGNORANT, when it comes to the 10 Commandments, and his position on this earth.
    MOSES ordered people to "Love thy Neighbor, as thyself" and Mr. Limbaugh's HATE SPEECH about the Pope's message is a clear example of his GREED and lack of COMPASSION.
    Mr. Limbaugh has not been "outsourced" by God, to JUDGE anyone but himself, unless he lives in the Philippines or India. Another good reason not to listen to, or pay attention to this overbearing, narcissistic WINDBAG. May his "ratings" TANK, and his HATE SPEECH destroy him.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  11. microflite

    In the future, ignore this Moron instead of commenting. This is the attention, he and CNN seek. Here is pure capitalism at work – CNN does not provide news but entertainment and whatever gets attention.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jacob Crade

      Spot on; large masses of this country are ignorant of the fact the cnn is tabloid "news" and rarely provides critical stories that are not simply turd filled attention grabbing headlines.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  12. pet0045

    I guess Rush has ran out of ideas doing the job that Republicans hired him to do, which is criticizing the Democrat. Please can someone remind him that he does not have any credibility what so ever to be commenting on issues like this. I wonder what percentage of Americans see this man as credible? Please Mr Rush shot up!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  13. w

    Does anybody pay attention to that fatso anymore? The pope is right. Capitalism is tyranny. Our excellent president is moving the U.S. toward becoming a progressive nation. No more capitalism! Its a failure.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • sma89

      Well obviously the 'fatso' gets across to 15 million people. But capitalism is NOT tyranny. It's the perfect secular method of economics that puts survival of the fittest into play. It's Darwinism, it's natural selection. Why secularists and leftists hate it is beyond me. But the church is not meant to be a business. The CHURCH is supposed to be THEE perfect method of charitable work/giving. Separate the church and the state. The government should not be [solely] be involved with welfare. If it spent the majority of time on that, it wouldnt be able to make money, only spend.

      Bottom line is Rush is wrong wrong wrong. If he thinks the church should be promoting capitalism and borderline classism, he is truly missing the mark. The church should be and remain a place for the poor to seek shelter, both figuratively and literally. NOT promote greed, as it has done for hundreds of years before.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  14. Lord Bobo

    The new "so-called" Pope is just another false-flag operation by the Obama government. Once again Obama is trying to divert attention away with him schemes to bring down America. If you love American you won't be voting for Obama in 2016. Rush is telling the truth here people! Obama installed a Communist as the new Pope, and it's time you people wake up and recognize that the wool is being pulled over your eyes. Obama won't stop until all our women are wearing head scarfs and praying to a Muslim God.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      You do understand that with a term limit of two, Obama won't be running in 2016?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • Agree with Bobo

        Didn't you know that Obama, as a Communist, will simply disregard the 2016 elections and remain in power indefinitely? And as a puppet of "The Great Bama" (as he will be called) the so-called "Pope" will convert the entire Vatican and all Christian churches to mosques. The "wool" has been lifted from my face...speak truth Lord Bobo, and lead me to glory, I will follow.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • al newman

      what color are the walls in the looney bin, Bobsy?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • ilovemekons

      Ha, ha, ha. Your post must be sarcasm or you need to see a psychiatrist ASAP.

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

      Not sure you know this but Obama cannot run again in 2016. Also, the Pope is elected from a group of other catholic priests. Please take your stupidity and vacate the premises.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Capp

      obviously a foreigner since Obama can't run in 2016.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  15. Grahame Rhodes

    Limbaugh is a credible as Jody Arias

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  16. J. Bonn

    Rush! Take your meds and shut it. Why are we reporting what this sociopath thinks?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  17. Ian

    You can't fix Stupid but you can Vote it out.......Good Riddance GOP buffoons..

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  18. Balthazaar

    rushbo knows neither economic theory nor religion. I am sure the pope will forgive him, for he knows not what he does.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  19. DMR

    Rush has finally gone so far over-the-top that he needs serious intervention. While I am not a Catholics, there is no excuse for a personal attack on the Pope that is based on nothing but Limbaugh's never ending hate and bigotry. It is time for Limbaugh to stop and grow up.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  20. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:19 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.