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. Norm

    Anyone else wanna hunt down and kill Coldplay? I dunno.... I just have this "urge"...

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

    "I really liked this pope, you know until he tried to take my precious precious money away and give it to the poor"

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

      "I always hated the Catholic church because of its stance on women, abortion, gays, etc. But now that the Pope says I should have other people's money... HOORAY FOR PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE A MAGIC MAN CREATED THE UNIVERSE!!"

      December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • elgranreyes

        I don't agree with the Pope on various issues, but his attack against greed is something I can find common ground with. I left the church because I don't like its emphasis on conservative values, but greed isn't a family value, and it's a good thing that the pope is able to say so.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Jesus

      "...For where your treasure (money) is, there you heart will be also".

      December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  3. JustRead

    Look up the word "Irrelevant" in the dictionary. Next to it you will see a picture of Rush Limbaugh!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  4. hottpoker

    Only to the ears of an idiot it would sound what the Pope is saying Marxist.

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

    I consider myself a small "c" conservative and I still agree with everything that Pope Francis is saying. If you can't see how consumer driven and money-centric modern society has become, then you're living under a rock. I hate to break it to American's right wing extremists, but Jesus Christ was NOT a conservative. If you have a problem with what the new Pope is saying, then methinks you probably have a problem with Christ's teachings. The absurd, ignorant reaction over Obamacare and America's fixation on a poorly run, for profit health care system is a good example at how lost this country is. Jesus didn't ask for your insurance card before healing the sick.

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

      Please point me to the part of the Bible where Jesus said that the way to solve the plight of the poor was higher taxes and larger government.

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

      "Jesus didn't ask for your insurance card before healing the sick."

      Jesus didn't heal the sick, stop confusing mythology with reality, The world would be a better place if people would stop confusing fairytales with the real world.

      December 3, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  6. re333

    Rush has to lay off the oxys/lortabs ect...and get with the program.Maybe the pope could help with his addiction...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  7. JonK

    So now Limbaugh is lecturing the Pope!!! I suppose he will tell us that he is infallible, too.

    Please shut your Pie-Hole for a change, Limbaugh!!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  8. Old White Consevative

    The Vatican itself is worth $10 billion to $15 billion. Where’s that "share the wealth" when it comes to your own money? Thought so.

    Here's a link from Time Magazine if you don't believe me. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,833509,00.html

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Joe Gerrity

      You do realize this pope is trying to undo what you're accusing the catholic church of, right?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  9. Mark

    So many of these posts above are silly beyond the word's definition. A) The Pope is just a man. He's not an omnicient God or being so he is fallible and in this case he know nothing of what he talks about. Every person on earth deserves an opportunity to earn money, property and be confident and secure knowing their freedom has been taken care of. B) Some of you did not care to think about what Rush is saying but rather jump on the "shoot the messenger train". He is saying that the policies the Pope is advocating doesn't mesh with our country, who we are and how our capitalist society works. It is better suited to a communist way of thinking. When the Pope states the wealthy people rob the poor of what is theirs....then he has lost me. If they are robbers, then charge them as such and go to court to prove it. THATS how we work here in the USA. BTW..... in case a couple of you posters dont know, the USA is not bound religiously, governmentally, morally or in any way to what the Pope spouts off. Again, he is a man voted into the head office of his religion........doesn't make him smart or correct about what he says.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  10. just bob

    The hippo-critical deaf junkie correcting the pope... that's hilarious.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  11. CJ

    So does this mean that the Pope believes that every many woman and child should have access to healthcare, education, food, and a roof over their heads? I say if it doesn't cover everyone on this earth, then it is not a real global care. It would be no different than what we have now. A select few getting richer while the masses are left to fend for themselves, with just a hope of a bright future, nothing guaranteed.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  12. ricardo1968

    Yeah, yeah. And Obama and Ronald Reagan are Marxists too. We get it.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  13. milt schoonover

    rush limbaugh is a stupid -fat- drug addict that should be in jail. he,s been charged several times over the years for drug abuse.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  14. Not Too Hard to Understand

    Does Rush understand that he's truly fat and embarrassingly stupid? Just curious.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  15. DaTrufHurts

    I would say Jesus was defnitely a Socialist – ASSUMING that the Gospels are, well, gospel. Marxism denies the existence of God, so in that respect Limbaugh is wrong, but i woudl agree that this Pope is WAY left do center.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  16. Big_D

    It is far past time for Armed Forces Radio to cut this drug addicted piece of garbage off the air!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  17. gager

    Why are people surprised that the pope is marxist?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  18. John

    ...and the party that shouts, and huffs, and puffs, and shoves their supposed Christian morality down our throats to make us feel guilt and vote for them, now becomes the party that when you break them down doesn't really care what Jesus tried to teach us at all. Apparently the real doctrine- agree with our ideology of greed and corruption, and actually getting into Heaven do not necessarily coexist.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  19. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  20. MK54

    The continued popularity of Limbaugh's talk show drivel reminds me that "You can fool some of the people all of the time".

    December 2, 2013 at 2:32 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.