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. JLS639

    Ironically Marxism is an explicitly atheistic and violent philosophy, too. Perhaps Rush should have chosen another socialist philosophy to compare it to such as Bolivarianism. Then again, appealing to a wide audience means using words they recognize.

    I have long observed that many lay worshipers would be shocked by what is advocated by religious leadership. For example, the ultra-conservative Christian Coalition opposed Clinton's welfare reform...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  2. Cryogenus

    This is the headline on the site? This is the most important thing that CNN can come up with? Nothing about the nuclear deal with Iran. Buried is anything about ACA. Shows the true colors of this group...

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

      Seriously? CNN had at least a straight week where their top headlines were about how broken the Obamacare website was and how few signups there were.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • lisa

      Uh...then why are you not only READING the article, but taking time to post in the comments section? Moron.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  3. Daniel

    This is CNN's top story? The bloviations of a right-wing propagandist? How low the once noble "News" network has fallen.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  4. nikko

    then Jesus is a Marxist. finally we have a Pope that preaches the word of Jesus and not some sponsor

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

      Was Jesus a KGB Agent??

      December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  5. krt88nc

    Has Rush Limbaugh ever actually read the works of Karl Marx? I am doubting that he has. Plus I'm not a Catholic and this Pope appears to the best one I have seen in my lifetime. He doesn't have his head buried in 1500 years of tradition and realizes that the world has changed.

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

      10000 % agree! Excellent post and well said.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Clem

      The world may have changed but God hasn't.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  6. Jim

    Good job GOP, alienate the Catholics (ie. your only base of support north of the Mason-Dixon line)/west of the Rockies). You only need to carry the old confederacy and Utah (until you boot the Mormons, anyway) to win national elections, right? That strategy worked so well for you in 2008 and 2012, right? Alienate northerners more!

    You're a southern regionalist party now. Stop pretending to be anything different.

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

      What does Rush Limbaugh have to do with the GOP being alienated? Rush Limbaugh is a talk show host. He does not represent any party; neither does he represent most Republicans. So how does that translate into the Republican party being a regional party? Your statements are based in prejudice.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
      • Sara(swati)

        Sixty percent favorable rating by Republicans in 2009 survey:


        December 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
        • Lynne

          2009? Geez. We're going back four years to claim Republicans like Limbaugh the same today? In that period of time a whole lot of stuff has happened in this country. Very few things are the same.

          December 2, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  7. Chip Barbre

    A Republican complaining about the church trying influence a person's politics?? There is no greater hypocrite in the known universe than a Christian Republican.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • lol??

      Ever heard of LBJ??

      December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
      • igaftr

        LBJ's are the best ! ! !

        December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Diraphe

      Ah yes the "christian right" stereotype

      December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Lynne

      Except maybe a liberal claiming to represent kindness and goodness and thoughtfulness and selflessness - all the while name-calling and impugning motives and breaking their arm patting themselves on the back.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  8. Diraphe

    Wow CNN has gone Media Matters on us; front page big print and all. Who cares what Rush says; why is this headline news? CNN is starting to look more like a partisan blog by the day

    December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  9. Big_D

    Hopefully Catholics can stop worshiping money and the GOP now.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  10. lol??

    Marx must have been really ticked at his dad for converting to Christianity. His rage caused the not-a-jews to really suffer under Nazism.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  11. S. B. Stein

    What I think that Limbaugh is missing is that there are people who don't act resposibly and morally when they have the money. They made their money but don't do anything good with it. They don't help those that need the help. That is what the Pope is trying to get to like the prophets of the Jewish bible encouraged the people to do; help the poor and act ethically and morally.

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

    Is "Rush Limbaugh" still even a thing? Apparently, the only people listening to him anymore are at Daily Kos.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  13. Jack 2

    I don't watch Rush but apparently many do. He doesn't have his own talk show from low ratings.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  14. Lisa

    What do I care what Limbaugh thinks about the Pope!!!???

    December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  15. Monk


    Why Is Execution So Near?
    As has been frequently explained in previous issues of this magazine, Bible prophecy and the world-shaking events since 1914 unmistakably indicate that we are now living in “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) This means that the end of the beastly world system is quickly drawing near, as is the end of the ten-horned “scarlet-colored wild beast,” on which the harlot is now riding. (Revelation 17:3) This beast evidently represents the political conglomerate of almost all the nations on earth—the United Nations. The foretold end means the elimination of divisive, ungodly political rule over mankind. But what about the harlot-queen riding on the beast?
    God’s angel explains: “The ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished.”—Revelation 17:16, 17.
    Thus the prophecy shows that shortly before the political wild beast goes off into destruction, it will begin to hate its rider and turn against her. Why? Rulers and governments will evidently feel that their power and authority are being threatened by organized religion operating within their boundaries. Suddenly, urged by an impelling force, they will carry out God’s “thought,” his decision, by executing his judgment on the adulterous, bloodstained world empire of false religion.—Compare Jeremiah 7:8-11, 34.
    The end of this world’s false religions will come while they are still seemingly vigorous and influential. Yes, the prophecy shows that just before the harlot is destroyed, she will still be saying in her heart: “I sit a queen, and I am no widow, and I shall never see mourning.” (Revelation 18:7) However, her destruction will come as a surprise to her billions of subjects. It will be one of the most unexpected and catastrophic events in human history.
    Ever since the emergence of ancient Babylon, false religions have exercised a tremendous influence on humanity through their leaders and supporters; their doctrines, traditions, and practices; their numerous imposing buildings for worship; and their incredible riches. They will certainly not disappear unnoticed. Therefore, the angel entrusted with conveying the message of judgment upon the harlot does not mince words when he declares: “In one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.” So Babylon the Great’s end will come like a bolt from the blue and will pass by quickly, as if “in one day.”—Revelation 18:8; Isaiah 47:8, 9, 11.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • igaftr

      or not...

      we'll throw yours on the pile of doomsday prophecies that nuts like you have spewed since the beginning of man's recorded history.y.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Monk

      For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought.” No wonder a heavenly voice sounds an urgent warning at Revelation 18:4, 5: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.” The call continues to go forth: Cut all ties with false religion, before it is too late!
      14 How will the world regard the devastating of Babylon the Great? From a distance, corrupt politicians—“kings of the earth”—grieve over her because they had for centuries found mutual pleasure in their spiritual fornication. Also weeping and mourning over her are greedy men of commerce, “traveling merchants . . . , who became rich from her.” These also distance themselves from her, saying: “Too bad, too bad—the great city, clothed with fine linen and purple and scarlet, and richly adorned with gold ornament and precious stone and pearl, because in one hour such great riches have been devastated!” All the finery of ecclesiastical garments and the magnificence of the world’s great cathedrals will be gone forever! (Revelation 18:9-17) But will everyone mourn over Babylon the Great?
      15 Revelation 18:20, 21 answers: “Be glad over her, O heaven, also you holy ones and you apostles and you prophets, because God has judicially exacted punishment for you from her!” Like a great millstone hurled into the sea, “with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city [have been] hurled down, and she will never be found again.”

      December 2, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Lynne

      I'm watching Sleepy Hollow, too!

      December 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
  16. MD

    Nick, first of al, you have no clue what you're talking about. Secondly, the crusades were over a very LONG time ago. Why should we keep remembering things from the past? We aren't going to repeat them, so why continously recall it? You're not a Catholic, so why don't you just worry about what you believe instead of trashing someone else's belief?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  17. myway

    Of course, it's the all knowing loudmouth Limbaugh who should tell the Catholic church what to do. That'll put them on the right track.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  18. re333

    How dare the pope speak for the poor and disadvantaged and not the top 1%....Shamefull right Rush?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  19. John Holroyd

    Limbaugh has it backwards. I think he will find that Marx was quoting Christianity not the other way round.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  20. irony

    the hypocrisy that these idiots spew is unbelievable.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:28 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.