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. Thought Purification

    I didn't know Marxists were religious!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  2. Charles

    Rush ... please keep talking.... he serves as our best example for the degenerate right wing greed for all the world to see.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  3. susan

    I am a Catholic, but I have to agree with Rush on this one. "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

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

      Give the majority of wealth to a dictator while everyone else lives in squalor???? Bizarro statement.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • EX Catholic

      So... you worship idols (statues, paintings, sacred objects etc.). FYI IDOLATRY is a very serious SIN that will lead you to the other place that IS NOT Heaven.

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

      As an Aetheist, I think you need to re-read the Bible.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  4. Dan

    Here we have one of the most vile human beings in the world, selfish, greedy, and a misogynist telling what the Pope is wrong about. Rush is the equivalent of the Devil on earth.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • EX Catholic

      Nope, the pope is! Limbaugh is demon possessed. 😉

      December 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  5. Big_D

    I can't believe the Armed Forces lets this drug addict treasonous POS on the Military Air!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  6. Rhope

    But who listens to Rush anymore?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • EX Catholic

      The answer to you question is above, courtesy of Big_D. 🙂

      December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  7. Ch

    Without capitalism, you idiots wouldn't be allowed to post your opinions here under your socialist government control. This country was not born under socialist tenets. If that what you support, then you should denounce your citizenship and move to your new Eden across the sea.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You may not be aware of this, but there are more than two options.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I don't think you understand what socialism is – it's not a totalitarian system.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • resident

      In case you haven't noticed, a lot of rich Americans have been doing as you suggest.

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

      No we have to post our opinions anonymously for fear our illustrious employers could fire us. Capitalism does not equate to free speech.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Knucklehead

      Freedom of speech has nothing whatsoever to do with any one economic system. It has to do with totalitarianism, and the curtailing of it is a favorite tactic of despots of all persuasions.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • MacroInvestor

      haha...typical uneducated nut. You realize that the ideas of capitalism and socialism that the pope is talking about are economic systems, right? Economic systems alone have no bearing on free speech. Nice try though, idiot.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • billobrienschindimple

      The NFL is the shining example of a blend of capitalism and socialism where everyone wins.

      All you mouthbreathers can't get past the word socialism, even though none of you can define it clearly. Absolutely hilarious.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  8. Eric

    So, why is Rush Limbaugh's latest turn at making an ass of himself news?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  9. bcarter3

    Why does Limbaugh hate Catholics?

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

      I believe Limbaugh is catholic

      December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  10. Bill

    Who do the Atheists side with? The Pope or Limbaugh?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I'm going with the Pope on this one.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Religion is NOT healthy for children and other living things

      This atheist strongly sides with Pope Francis! Without ANY question nor ANY hesitation, I agree with many things this new pope has said! I agree with NOTHING that Rush has ever said! Rush is a blithering fool!

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

      This atheist is with Rush

      December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • billobrienschindimple

      Pope Francis gives me hope for the Catholic Church. As an Aetheist, I do respect the potential positive effect the church can have, There is finally someone focusing on the positives of the Bible, rather than the doom and gloom that has been fostered in this country for so long.

      December 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  11. MaryM

    So now old Rush limpballs is spewing against the new Pope Francis. And You repub fools that still listen to that Rush gasbag.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  12. AlbaMN

    Further proof that conservatism and Christianity do not mix well. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  13. Neo Atheist

    I would believe the Pope over Rush Limbaugh any day of the week. At least the Pope is a good man. Rush is just a POS.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  14. zuglo1

    When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Luke 18:25. There are plenty of conservative Christians who are very selective in the parts of the Bible they choose to ignore as they worry more about their tax cuts and personal consumption rather than the poor.

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

      Well said!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  15. Ken

    I don't always get my theological advice from Oxycontin addicts, but when I do, it's from Rush Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Yup.


      December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • billobrienschindimple


      December 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  16. nvmature

    "“I go to church to save my soul," said Fox News' Stuart Varney." haha Good luck with that. Additionally, Limbaugh is a racist, separatist, male chauvinist, ego-driven maniac, and many more negative "isms" and terms I can't think of or probably spell. He is the worst face of America.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  17. Puzzled in Peoria

    According to Limbaugh, anybody who disagrees with him is "wrong." It has never occurred to him in his life that HE might be wrong. Francis has every right to say whatever he wants, and he also has the right to criticize capitalism. Limbaugh simply doesn't get it. The leader of the Catholic Church says that Jesus should take first place in our lives, not money. What's Marxist about that?

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

    I stopped long ago listening to Rush Limbaugh. I consider myself a slightly permissive conservative. Back in the mid '90's Rush was an enjoyable counterpoint to the rhetoric coming out of the Clinton White House.

    Today Rush has morphed into a caricature of a pundit and is more an ultra-conservative comedy hack than anything else. Neither the left or the right has all the answers, but I assure you Rush Limbaugh has no sane answer.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  19. Ved

    Giving to the poor, being charitable, refraining from idolizing gold and riches, are virtues in my book, but Limbaugh refers to these as dirty things that Republicans should not do. What is this guy, the Devil's assistant on Earth?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  20. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:30 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.