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. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  2. Hatch08

    Interesting that Fox News' Stuart Varney is objecting to the Pope's combining religion and politics when here in the states that's exactly what conservatives try to jam down the throats of Americans – in a effort to 'influence' peoples' politics. Another hypocritical statement brought to you by the right wing.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  3. Neutron Hammer

    "They eat their own god, eat his flesh, drink his blood, abominable."

    World leaders shouldn't be accepting advice on modern economic policy from the leader of a cannibalistic cult (not to mention the single biggest racket in the world). Catholicism is as much of a plague on the world as Islam.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  4. Michael C. Eagan

    How can a thrice married, drug addled tub of lard criticize the Vicar of Christ for his social commentary unless, of course, he is a religious bigot. Obviously, the Catholic Church, which has championed such social issues as a living wage and universal health care is not a Tea Party type religion. I am sure the Koch brothers will continue to prop up this intellectual baby food while the Ditto-heads continue ignoring the well thought out social position of a Jesuit intellectual. (PS: I apologize to the Ditto-head nation for using words in excess of two {2} syllables {parts to words}.)

    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Dean

      If the Roman Catholic Church would sell off its gold, art and other possessions, it could go a long way in reducing world poverty.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  5. Dave in SC

    Just when Republicans thought Obamacare was giving them some inroads with Catholics...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  6. FedUp2

    Rush comes from a long line of racists that think they are all that but are just slightly above the white trash that surround them. Hannibal, MO might as well be the deep south, in part of the state that is still bitter about losing the civil war. Although Rush started out as a rebel, preaching liberal BS (he doesn't really believe in anything) he conformed to the mentality that infects most of these racists.
    On the other hand, anybody that thinks the Pope has some kind of influence should recall that throughout WW2, not much was heard from Vatican City in the middle of an enemy Axis nation. No, their god was busy talking to saints just a few kilometers from where millions of humans were being gassed. No mention of any of that embarrassing mess. Political influence from an old fuddy in a dress and fish hat? I'd be more worried about the back ends of little boys around these descendants of the Spanish Inquisition that hijacked most of South America for God.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  7. pdqbach

    Jesus taught charity and putting others before yourself, the Pope seems to be talking about forced charity, which is tyranny.
    This is not Christ but antichrist. Many will be deceived.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • MaryM

      YOU are worse than Rush, spewing your hatred and Lies

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

      No, he's not. He isn't even talking about the US.
      Good to know you swallow Rush's swill, though.

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

      ;Forced' charity? Francis did not say that. Unless your conscience ('consciousness' would be better) 'forces' you to do the things you do.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  8. Vence

    Jesus Christ was the first communist. He gave his clothes to his fellow man. Conservatives don't want his fellowmen have basic healthcare. Who's the evil man here?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • maine liberal

      The original Communist Manifesto

      Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

      Jesus said, "If you want to be complete, go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come follow me." 22 But when the young man heard this, he went away saddened, because he had many possessions.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  9. MaryM

    So now that Drug addict Rush is spewing his garbarge againt the New Pope Francis. And you republicans listen to Rush?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  10. Lester Singleton

    “I go to church to save my soul" My friend, there is no amount of church that can save any of our souls.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  11. Bob Bobson

    The single achievement of the modern conservative movement in this country has been convincing millions of weak minded individuals that selfishness, greed, and hatred of the poor are good, "Christian", values.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  12. Mr. Poopy Pants

    This pope may nor may not be a Marxist. I don't know and don't care. I do know that he hasn't made public all of the information that the Vatican and others in the Catholic Church has about the pedophiles, rapists, molesters, and other freaks that are hiding in the Church. Until he does that it doesn't really matter to me what he thinks about any political system.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  13. Tom

    "Who do Atheists side with?" I think you're missing a basic principle of atheism, and that's that we can think individually without having to toe some line of either guy who believes in some invisible best friend, lol. For the record, though, when looking at the Bible and what Jesus preached, it's obvious closer to Marxism than Capitalism, but realistically it's neither; rather, it's just plain socialism. While the Pope sits in a small room in a large mansion and Limbaugh sits in his few mansions, I'm not either are particularly correct.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  14. Brian

    I don't know what amazes me more, the conservative faux outrage over a church trying to influence politics or the fact that they are so blind to the teachings of Christ in this regard.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  15. Rick

    Howard Stern seems more astute than Rush these days.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  16. Mel

    CNN Belief Blog about Rush Limbaugh as the main story? Is this news? I think not.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  17. sayer

    Catholic Church vs Rush. Rush is toast.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  18. syates22

    Thought Rush had gotten over that Pain Pill addiction issue, but it looks like it is back in force.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  19. Harveston

    CNN's editors chose to make this a headline? Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  20. Thought Purification

    so Rush is saying Catholicism is founded on Marxism!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:40 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.