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. spad22

    Rush is in the same bucket as the Kardashians. Only themselves and the advertising revenue gouging news outlets only care what they have to say.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  2. Ben

    While I think Limbough is a dolt, why is it front page news when a conservative says something stupid and yet two notable liberals in the same profession, said much, much worse and only one even merited mention on CNN and the worst one (Bashir) was only a footnote???

    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Do you have a link?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  3. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  4. bandomak

    Rush is just showing again that he is nothing but a muppet for the rich, greedy and corrupt in this world.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  5. lol??

    CNN musta been losin' too many clicks to the whippin' the A&A's have gotten recently. Here's yer bone socie doggies.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  6. LB

    Mr. Limbaugh has bitten off waaaay more than he can chew this time. Pope Francis is a man or reason and peace and does not deserve to be treated this way. I find it odd that he never attacked the TBN and it's charlatan leader, Crouch, or Benny Hinn, "Pastor" Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and a host of other similar grifters. One can only hope Limbaugh is called to answer for this vituperous attack in a very swift and final manner.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Jim Marler

      No one pays any attention to this nut.......anyone that believes what he says needs help badly. I am not Catholic but I find him very refreshing. God Bless him!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Thomas Williams

      Limbaugh lives in a world without consequences. He got caught smuggling class A narcotics, and didn't see a day in jail, while insisting that a black kid who sells weed should get life in prison...and that prisons should bring back "hard labor" (remember that one?). This man is rich, and therefore above the law and reproach. He does not fear the Pope, he uses the Pope to generate controversy, which gets him "clicks," which pay the advertisers, which pays him. He is more powerful than the Pope will ever be, because the Pope asks us to care, and love, and help others, and that never made a CEO a dime!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  7. Sean

    Good ole' Rush.. making friends INTERNATIONALLY now.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  8. lejaune

    Yeah, Jesus was also preaching Marxism according to Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  9. Bill

    The Pope RULES!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  10. Linda

    Why does anyone give Rush any air time at all. No one cares about his opinion. But we do care about what the Pope has to say.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  11. whocares

    Honestly, who really cares what Rush Limbaugh thinks?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  12. Caroline Kent

    Anyone who believes that Rush Limbaugh knows what he is talking about needs to undergo psychiatric reality testing.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  13. Andy

    If 'money by any means' is your politics – you are dangerous and unthinkable. The Pope is speaking for the millions of poor people around the world who are fighting a losing battle with greed; the kind of greed that would have people die because they aren't worth enough, or haven't paid enough in taxes. Rush Limbaugh is a WASP in the worst way; greedy, hateful, angry, and willing to lie through his teeth. I'm not a Catholic, but I'll back ANY Catholic with the sense to tell the truth about pure evil of greed and 'trickle down' BS economists.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  14. Logic

    Treating Rush Limberger like anything other than political farce (which is what CNN is doing in this case) is ridiculous. It would be like taking what Seth Meyers says on SNL weekend update as serious commentary.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • whocares

      I know, right? It must be a really slow news day.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  15. SnafuBob

    Rush the lush strikes again!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  16. Thomas Williams

    Lets take a vote: who thinks Rush Limbaugh's opinion more accurately reflects the beliefs and practices of Jesus, and who thinks the Pope's opinion more accurately reflects the teachings of Jesus? I vote Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  17. ComeOnMan

    Rush baby, case in point. It appears you will say anything to keep your audience of dullards. Karma is coming for you because you forgot to honor the code of right speech. Wish you had enough money to stop creating hate and division but hey carry on because you the man!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  18. Axon

    What does Rush Limbaugh care? He isn't even Catholic! It's funny that a three time divorcee and a prior drug addict thinks he can climb up a moral pedastal and look down at ANYone. He should go volunteer at a homeless shelter for the next 3 decades before he opens his big mouth. Oh wait... he hates poor people, I forgot about that.

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

      Amen, no pun intended.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  19. Mike Texoma

    Cnn chooses to subject its readers to this kind of hogwash because it sees a profit in sensationalism. Slow news day.

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

      As opposed to fauxnews, that can't move past the ACA.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Thomas Williams

      That is true only if Rush truly has no influence in the world, and is just a forgotten relic. While the mainstream has long since stopped listening to his garbage, he still commands a fervent following among the extreme right, and remains a popular spokesperson for a popular political ideology in this country: that of the self-anointed Christian right, who opposes much of the teachings of Jesus. It is a large, vocal and powerful group, and as long as Rush speaks for them, we have to listen and pay attention, lest we forget who we are dealing with out there. He is still dangerous.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • MarkinFL

        Yes, he is like the smell that reminds us not to touch a pile of excrement.

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

      as an atheist i respect this pope more than any religious figure in recent history. if you're a xtian, you finally have a decent leader that knows where the energy should be focused to make the world better... if you disagree you're not only a fool but have no idea what it means to be a xtian...

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

        Yeah, I think this is another thing that freaks out the right-wing nuts. Just when they start getting cozy with the Catholics they go and get a Pope that thinks with a broader mind than any before. Must be driving them nuts. I'm continually surprised (pleasantly so) by this new pope. Hope it leads to some actual positive impacts in the world.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:48 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.