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. holspark

    Yea, so......You played right into the Dude's game....

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  2. irony

    Rush "jabba the hut" Limbaugh needs to crawl back under the rock his sorry worthless fat disgusting self came from. PERIOD!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  3. BDaddy

    i didn't think Limbaugh was still on the radio

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  4. brown

    I always thought Limbaugh was an i diot, now I'm convinced of it.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • holspark

      He's actually correct.....but so what??? HE'S AN ENTERTAINER!

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

        No, he is NOT correct. Apparently you are as stupid as he is. Are you as fat too? Like that personal consumption program he sells?

        December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  5. ss

    I am not catholic or religious. Simply put I like this pope and I dont like Rush Limbyuck

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  6. gabe

    Forgive him ,for he is STILL on DRUGS........

    December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  7. al

    Rush is right!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  8. Joe

    Most of what I hear from Limbaugh is SAD AND UNBELIEVABLE, AND not ironically it IS.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  9. Kenny

    I'm only willy to pay so much in taxes before i revolt.

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

      What does this have to do with the Pope?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  10. boydog

    This guy is never worth listening to.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  11. Jeff

    Why is anyone listening and reporting on Rush. He is an ENTERTAINER not a political authority

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

      The Pope should be a religious authority not a political one as he is becoming now.

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

        How you treat the poor IS how you show your religion, you Nasty Evil Stupid Man.

        And here you are, trusting an even Nastier, More Evil, Even More Stupid Man.

        And I bet you think you're some kind of Christian.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  12. Gordo

    Somehow, I doubt if the Catholic church gets its millions from the Sudan or Nigeria.

    The reality is that socialism including churches need capitalism to survive.

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

      The church has been around for 2000 years. Capitalism has only been around as a theory since 1776 when Adam Smith wrote "The Wealth of Nations." So your argument is simply wrong.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  13. ybsnad

    everybody except the 1% and their sheeple know trickle down is a failure. to fight against that fact so vehemently is either ignorant or conspiracy.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  14. bombastus

    Uncle Rush is going to put his GOP buds in a pickle. Everyone loves the Pope and so must the GOP or they risk alienating even more people. Rush better check what Jesus actually said. I'm pretty sure JC was a little closer to socialism . Ahh but today's Christians can interpret what JC said anyway they like and I'm sure Rush believes that if capitalism had been invented back then, JC would have embraced it knowing well that a rising stock market could certainly change water into wine better and faster than any JC miracle.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  15. Joe Public

    Limbaugh goes merrily along spewing his normal ignorant rhetoric further destroying the minds of his faithful followers. Limbaugh is walking proof there is no God. Otherwise, he would have surely been zapped by a lightning bolt long ago and taken out of the grand equation before he could do any damage with his ignorance, lies, and narrow point of view.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  16. Sergio Pastor

    I am catholic but the Pope is an idiot . He was raise in Argentina-Peron idealism and bad times in that country, a socialistic “atmosphere” and sorry to say the Pope does not nothing in how money and prosperity is done by people for working... working hard people. I am proud catholic and I depend from my efforts to be happy and believe in GOD!!......do not teach me to be a sucker but teach all of us to have respect for ourselves and responsibly to there families. A child brought to earth is the father responsibility, not the government to make us feel good amigos and I agree with Rush

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

      Me too!
      The reality is that if you live anywhere in the U.S. or Canada you're already part of the global 1%ers.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Iolanthe

      "I agree with Rush".

      Then you are NO kind of Christian.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  17. manunited36

    R L. is an idiot simple as that. The pope in any sense is talking about america but.the world over where the love of money turns into tiranny... a non marxist can tell you that.. hell a 10 yr old can tell.you that..

    December 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  18. snipdog88

    I guess Rush is popping again. Get help Rush!!! Substance abuse is very dangerous, and while a mind is a terrible thin to waste, yours has always been a bit borderline. Maybe you gotta stop those airport lavatory visits that some of your kind are so fond of. Now don't stop, make sure you offend the muslims, jews, and asian non-believers.....

    December 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  19. Ted Defranco

    The Jews and the Catholic bankers and legal teams need to release most of that money to the boys..now men who they MOLESTED!!!

    That's where the true focus is.

    It sure wasn't on condoms for us who are now too large and vocal of a group to be ignored!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  20. Cynthia

    Oh, that Pope. Going and grabbing all the attention away from Rush. Of course, Rush had to come up with something asinine to say. What else would we expect?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:42 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.