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. xirume


    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  2. Dave Scoven

    Puts a whole new spin on "ballsy," doesn't it? Contradicting a core tenet of Roman Catholic belief? The infallibility of the Pope, I mean. While I doubt that Limbaugh has ever actually read the Bible (or any book longer than 100 pages, for that matter), I'm sure his "people" have briefed him on the general thrust of the whole "Jesus thing." t's always been a source of humor for me that people think that Jesus would have supported Right Wing conservatism. Anyway, I'm happy that he called the Pope a Marxist. It's about time American Catholics did some political soul-searching.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  3. Name*penguin

    Capitalism is not a form of government- it is an economic notion. And we have never had a pure free market capitalistic system. We consider men such as Vanderbilt and Carnegie great Capitalists, yet the right wing free market types forget to mention that they made their money (and lots of it) on railroads. These railroads were built on land given to them by the government. And the great capitalistic company Alcoa would never had made it had the government not built all those dams to provide cheap energy. Not to mention Rockefeller whose Standard Oil made lots of money because the government built roads for cars to consume gasoline. Same with the logging industry who depended on the gov't to build roads. And of course our agriculture system depends on govt built irrigation systems as well as govt funded educational systems. The government does have a role to play in our economic success

    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Not to mention the fact that corporations receive 50% more welfare than individuals do in this country. Calling out country capitalist is a big joke.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  4. Ruben Fonseca

    Who let Limbaugh out of the crazy house. Need to bring him back and place strap shirt on him so as not to hurt himself.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  5. ChuckChucklesAgain

    ROFLMFAO !!!

    "High court ends Liberty University lawsuit over ObamaCare"


    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Steve

      An while they're at it, they can change "John Paul" to "John Paul II"

      December 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  6. Norm

    Fix this from the article:
    It doesn't sound like the criticism is slowing Francis down, however. He's started ending a Vatican contingent, including the Papal Swiss Guards, into Rome to deliver food and charity.

    That should be SENDING, not ENDING.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • MikeinNM

      Maybe that should be BENDING.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  7. Kirk

    Maybe somebody should remind Limbaugh that Jesus was the greatest socialist that ever lived. It's a rich statement for someone for the 'right' to condemn the 'left' for mixing politics and religion. The religious-right have perfected that ideology.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  8. rosethornne

    Limbaugh is obviously back on the Oxy again

    December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  9. DJ

    Wasn't the Pope simply preaching to Catholics ? Why should a non-Catholic, Rush Limbaugh, be concerned what a leader of a church has to say to its followers ?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  10. G

    This whole world is turning in one big toilet filled with political poop.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  11. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  12. Skip

    Wow!! Looks like El Rushbo is doubling down on the Pope

    December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  13. ooo

    If your the pope, Limbaugh is not a bad enemy to have....

    December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  14. Ian

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

    December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  15. Elizabeth

    I'm no longer a Catholic but the new Pope has himself some very noble values. If he'd been Pope 40 yrs ago I might still be going to church.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • freedom liker

      Oh please. You are just another athiest liberal. Don't pretend otherwise just because you can you the popes talking points in your next rant.

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

      The Church is about Christ, not the Pope. And even though Popes do in fact change, the Word of God is consistent and eternal.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  16. Getmenone

    Limbaugh, ROFL, The guy is clueless as always, and in his attempt to twist cherry picked misinterpretations, and then try to make a point about how this makes what he thinks accurate is without a doubt ROFL. Please just shut up Rush! You make all your cronies look stupid by affinity.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  17. JaneE

    Jesus said that just ignoring the poor and hungry was reason enough to consign you to everlasting fire. Pope Francis understands this. Rush Limbaugh does not.

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

      How are us "greedy capitalists" not helping the poor. The federal government, the state government, the local government take a 1/3 of my income and redistribute it to poor people.

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

      Limbaugh reads the Choose Your Own Adventure version of the bible. It's all about gays and women ruining everything and capitalism.

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

      Uh, that's not even close to what Jesus said.

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

      The Pope didn't mention Jesus on any of his speeches, Jesus is the HEAD of the church not the Pope, Pope speech lacks harmony with the bible which is the word of God; Pope speech is as if he would have more authority than Jesus and the bible which is an unchristian blasphemy.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  18. AtlJack

    How dare the Pope speak out about the teachings of Jesus?

    No self-respecting conservative Christian believes Jesus actually meant that stuff about helping the poor and sick and that piling up wealth in this life is a detriment to salvation.

    Thank goodness we have Rush Limbaugh to call the Pope on this stuff.

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

      Too bad rush does not know what the Bible actually says. Hopefully insulting the Pope will make Catholics look again at the head of the republicon/TB party, and for which it stands. Rush is mean-spirited and I would say just pain evil. No I am not Catholic either, but I admire Pope Francis as being the people's Pope for as far back as I can remember

      December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  19. Norm

    "And Jesus said unto the masses: 'Those that predict the future and seek to profit from it are surely the cause of all evil. Therefore, I command that you buy their product lest ye be fined and punished. But only the products that I have deemed worthy of your purchase unless you have filled my coffers with your gold. For you are the preferred in my sight and shall have a one year extension.' And lo, upon the hill a shiny new building filled with paper did appear. And a great sign did herald "JesusCare" accross the whole of one side. And it glowed with the right and might of the highest, except for the small screen on the front door that declared "This site is currently not accessable. Please try again."

    December 2, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  20. DP

    I had to go look for myself because Limbaugh, like many left/right statists, often mistakes others giving an opinion on how someone should live their lives as a call for a government to come in and make it happen. For a bit, it seemed like this was the error, that the Pope was presenting a calling for the rich. But right there in section 56, he condemns economic autonomy. That begs the question of who is to take away the autonomy and how it is to be done. That's a straight-up statist view and it's not out of line to assume some Marxist principles would go into bringing it about.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:21 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.