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. Davankay

    I am so excited about Pope Francis that I couldn't have imagined anything that would have given me more admiration for him. Rush's reaction to him has actually just applied icing to an already fabulous cake. My wife and I enjoy listening to Rush as we travel by car as tragic/comic entertainment.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Laughing guy

      That was hilarious.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • bobB

      Me too. Not so much Rush, but another Tea Party radio show in the morning. Its like going into a strange new world where the laws of logic and rational thinking no longer exist.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  2. Mopery

    Oh wow, if Rush thinks the Pope is a Marxist, wait until he hears about this Jesus guy...

    December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • jeff

      Spot on

      December 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • allenwoll

      Ha, ha, ha, ha ! ! !

      December 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Regnad Kcin

      Bravo, Sir or Madame. As @jeff said, "Spot on".

      December 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Steve

      Nice. Very nice. Thank you.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Dawn Kieballs

      Nailed It! (no pun intended)

      December 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  3. texasnotea

    Rush Limpbah attacks anyone who doesn't agree with Rush. After all, he is the true leader of the republican party.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  4. LouAZ

    So what ? Rush Limburger is a Nazi.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  5. calamity jane

    It's obvious. Rush is trying to turn Sarah on with all this talk.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  6. cross eyed mary

    I need a shot of love!

    I need surgery. Calling all athies, send money.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  7. Sam Marion

    Limbaugh calls Pope a Marxist. This is logic? By definition a Marxist does not believe in any religion and there is the famous quote "Religion is the opiate of the masses"... Therefore... need I follow this any further? rush should listen to himself sometime...oh wait...he can't...he's deaf.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  8. E

    I fail to see how the Pope's comments were Marxism. All he said is that we shouldn't worship money like a lot of people do and that we should try to help people that are less fortunate. How is that Marxism? Wait... does Rush even know what Marxism is or is he just doing his usual and blowing steam? I'm not religious at all, but the Pope's words are something I'd stick with in this case. It's just common sense really.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  9. John H

    Yeah... and how many divorces is Rush on at this point? Maybe he should just sit down and try to learn something.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  10. lewtwo

    LOL -- The "Voice of the GOP" !

    December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • VJ

      Even Sarah Palin told something similar to what Rush has said....

      December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  11. sonny chapman

    This is great news! It's fulfilling the WORDS of Jesus, "I have come to bring not peace but the sword". Matthew 10,34. And Conservative Christians must now chooses sides,"No man can serve two Masters".Matthew 6,24.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  12. Bill

    Gotta love conservatives and their stubborn belief that their misguided beliefs are paramount to every one else's, including the Pope, apparently.

    In the Pope's manifesto, he spoke out against trickle-down economics, referring to it by name. Of course, trickle-down economics is the long-held tax platform of the GOP. However, the bottom line is, religious and/or ethics aside, there has been zero evidence that this has ever had any real benefit to the economy. When Reagan tried it, yes, it created jobs, but it also led to our debt increasing by 180% during his presidency (the largest increase in our debt – by far – by any one president). When Bush 2 tried it, the results were even worse – a net job creation of roughly a million jobs in eight years, and the Bush Tax Cuts are projected to have cost us over $ 2 trillion in the first decade, and just under that amount if they remain in tact for another decade. So $ 4 trillion for a million jobs? That's a horrible economic investment.

    The bottom line is the Pope is right. Trickle-down economics help the rich more than the poor, and have never spurred any real economic benefit, at least in our country, that justifies the high cost of the lost tax revenues.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • VJ

      You are very correct. You can see the income disparity from since 80 till today.. It is huge.. Rich had become richest, poor had become poorest and middle class is like pendulum, they can go anyway... Vote real progressive and see how this economy will turn into... Obama is another Republican....

      December 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  13. Brad

    "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.”

    But it's ok for the Evangelicals to do it? What a double standard!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • John H

      Someone needs to be reminded that faith without works is meaningless. Where ever your time is spent is where your heart is at, the pope is not wrong in his analysis of right wing politics.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      Ronald Reagan let the Genie out of the bottle when he endorser the "Moral Majority" of Pat Robertson & the Most Holy Rev. Jerry Falwell. No putting the Genie back in the bottle. Now Conservative "Christians" are STUCK w/ the WORDS of Jesus as found in the Four Gospels.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  14. Wittenberg

    If you knew your history, you would know that the Popes of Rome for centuries have been the greatest oppressors of personal liberty, religious freedom – and the greatest defenders of hypocrisy and corruption, as well as false spiritual teaching. Ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition? Or the Dark Ages? The new world (America) was founded by people looking for freedom from Popes and kings. Don't forget that.

    The Pope does not represent what is in the Bible. He uses the Bible for his own means, and corrupts Scripture as it suits him. Jesus said we as individuals should help the poor. If peoples' hearts were converted they would, and many do. There is much voluntary giving. Mark 14:7, Matthew 26:11, John 12:8, Deuteronomy 15:11.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • VJ

      This pope wants reform, how the real Christians should be, by helping each other when crises occur and helping poor. He knows what he speaks... Even though I am a Hindu, I like this Pope than others... This pope will have new meaning of how the papacy should work going forward... He will be the idealistic pope for the future popes... I dully respect him and should live in the beautiful earth for a long time.... Long Live Pope.....

      December 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  15. Kat

    Mr. Limbaugh continues to astonish with his ever-increasing display of pure ignorance. To get paid to spew this garbage is highly insulting, to say the least, to intelligent, fair-minded people everywhere. Please Mr. Limbaugh, just STFU.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  16. Malory Archer


    Ok so you all do as I say and not as I do. Allow me to ride around with my entourage and security detail while you all eat corn nuts, how much more hypocrisy can one display? I speak of humility but I am the most prideful religious freak in the world!


    Are you speaking of Pope Francis or the fat, drug addicted radio bloviator? I KNOW you aren't speaking of the Pope, as he has eschewed the opulence of the Vatican for a simpler life amongst impoverished monks. He fired the German Bishop of "bling", insists on driving himself and not in that bullet-proof "Pope Mobile (although judging by the fat, drug addicted radio bloviator's sentiments he really should rethink that), and has taken to sneaking out at night to give alms to the poor. In other words, he walks the talk.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  17. pauleky

    I'm no fan of organized religion, but anyone that listens to Rush Limbaugh is a fool. He clearly doesn't believe half of what he says, but he's found a niche of folks who refuse to educate themselves and he's exploiting it. Fortunately, his advertisers have taken notice and are dropping him like flies. If anyone quotes Limbaugh to me seriously, I know they're likely very misinformed. I'm sure someone will say that makes me an "elitist," but if being intelligent and learning makes me that way, then I'm proud to be one.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  18. ChunkyFun

    Mr. Limbaugh is %100 correct and everyone, especially the socialist liberals, know it.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Keane

      Rush Limbaugh is a fool.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      Nice sarcasm chunky, you captured perfectly the tone of the nutters that post such stuff.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Sam Marion

      By definition Marxists do not believe in any God. Look it up sometime. God is central to the Pope's entire life. Logically therefore the Pope cannot be a Marxist. In addition, Socialism is not Marxism. Avail yourself of a dictionary.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • VJ

      Rush is a clown and Villain...

      December 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Stalk Forrest


      Mr. Limbaugh is %100 correct and everyone, especially the socialist liberals, know


      I just had to respond to this one.

      You hate socialism ?
      The kind of socialism practiced in America is this.
      WE pay taxes.
      Those taxes are used to create fire houses, schools, police departments,
      pave roads, build bridges...ect ect.

      Did you build all that yourself ?

      If you don't like socialism, when your house goes up in flames, don't call the fire department,
      that's socialism, WE paid for that.

      If somebody breaks into your house, don't call 911, that's socialism, WE paid for that.

      That road you use everyday to get to your job........Socialism....WE paid for that.

      You get it moron ??????

      December 2, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  19. cross eyed mary


    Nazi god haters need jobs.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • igaftr

      Nazi God haters?
      Does that mean the ones who hate the god of the Nazi's, which is the christian god?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  20. keeth

    Here, Rush. Have another shovel.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:23 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.