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. Omar

    Jesus would NOT have been a republican.

    This pope is the most Christ-like I have ever seen. Thank you, Francis, for reminding us what is REALLY important. Each other.

    Also, Marx came LONG after Jesus. So who is the original socialist? lol

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

      It's evident you have not a clue what your are talking about. Jesus wouldn't have been a liberal either. Jesus would have been more along the lines of a libertarian, though in all likelihood he wouldn't have been party affiliated at all.. Trying to make a point with Jesus and what party line he would have been associated with is stupid and ignorant.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Paul the Usurper

      Jesus would never be a republican and God can't ever be a conservative. See, Jesus actually cares for the poor and he dislikes the money changers.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  2. Shelia

    Well compare him to Pope John Paul and you will get your answer why because John Paul lived it..This Pope is Naive at best.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  3. Vence

    This time rush is talking sheep to the wrong guy!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  4. John Mayo

    Like most of us, I am sure the Pope cares about what Limbaaaaa has to say. Most people have diarrhea at the other end. Limbaaaa proves the exception to the rule. I wonder how many other ministers he critiques.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  5. fbysea

    If Rush isn't happy, this pope must be doing something right.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  6. had enough

    THIS. IS. NOT. NEWS!!!

    CNN, please, please, PLEASE stop trying to appease the vocal idiots who throw the "liberal media" label at you. For one thing, you're never going to satisfy them, and there is no reason to start acting like fox news.

    NOTHING rush limbaugh says is newsworthy or relevant, and you're embarrassing yourselves by putting the tabloid nonsense on the front page of your once relevant news site.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  7. src

    I find Stuart Varney's comment hilariously hypocritical considering the history of the church being generally much more conservative, and often times urging its parishioners to vote right-wing. See "The Moral Majority" and other church based right wing political action groups.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  8. lol??

    Socies won't ever be satisfied until the last Master is 6 feet under. What gubmint pwogwam are ya thinkin' of now??

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

      Learn what socialism means, then attempt to make an informed comment.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  9. YesSedFred

    Rush.....Limbaugh. Name seems familiar. Someone remind me who he is, I'm sure I've read the name before, but can't remember where......

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

    Hmm let's see...Limbaugh is (or at least "was") a drug addict who broke laws to get his "legal" drug(s) of choice, is a bigot, a vile potty mouth, and he sees women as second class citizens, among other things. Why does anyone care what the big fat idiot says, and how is any of the nonsense that spews out of his big fat ugly face worthy of giving any kind of coverage to?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  11. Michael N


    December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  12. Truth

    Gee CNN this is a story, of course the pope is a Marxist, they all are

    December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  13. emma

    What more proof does anyone need that Rush Limbaugh is really Satan?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Faith isn't a Preacher

      For those of simpler minds than Rush; None.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  14. rrinbr

    I guess Lame-baugh was feeling a little inconsequential

    December 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  15. Mike

    Why do we continue to take Trash LImbaugh seriously. Has he ever said anything positive about anyone. Not need to answer. Rush is an evil, vicious and disgusting man. Perhaps now we all will stop listening to him. Whether you agree with Pope Francis or not – why attack him this way. All he is trying to do is rid the world of poverty. For this, Rush should go off on him.

    Remember of the many things Jesus preached – giving to and loving the poor was among the most important.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  16. Rush2much

    I used to listen to Limbaugh, but hes gone off the deep end as most eccentrics do. Really you have something bad to say about everyone Rush, hang it up while you can.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  17. Faith isn't a Preacher

    Two Plans:
    1. Salvation though coercive measures. (Lucifer's)
    2. Salvation through "Come Follow Me". (Jesus Christ's)

    So, which one is effectual when it's all said and done?
    'Forced Will' or 'Free Will'?

    'Free Will'; it changes the Heart instead of the Mind.
    The Mind will follow the Heart.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • ME II

      So, there is nothing coercive about eternal torture in hell I guess.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • Faith isn't a Preacher

        That is a falsehood taught by coercive preachers.
        The reality is that Hell is the remorse and grief we have for our ill-will, lost opportunities, and meanness in this life. That is the ultimate torment.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • John

          I can think of one fat ugly drug-addict in this debate who's obviously already there then. No, not me. Probably not even you. Guess again, 3rd's a charm they say.

          December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  18. George

    "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"

    Some of us remember the war on poverty in the 60s when the church was very involved in pressing for improved conditions for the poor, among other social issues. Then Roe v Wade happened and the Republicans managed to hijack religious folks over the single issue of abortion, ignoring that most of the rest of Republican ideas clashed with Christianity. Rush Limbaugh is just highlighting how far away from their original ideals most Christians have since strayed.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Faith isn't a Preacher

      What went wrong is that the good intentions made things worse.
      It created dependencies and sloth.

      Such ill placed good intentions pave the way to Hell.
      The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  19. truebrill

    Someone did get to him Rush... Jesus, or at least his interpretation of Jesus, and something tells me he's pretty well read on the subject matter

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  20. Uh-Clem

    Rush is but one bellwether showing the world that there are among us in the United States people who have sold their souls at the alter of avarice. They have turned their backs on Christian philosophy under the guise of Christian theology. And, for some unknown reason, much like the misguided of the last civil war, have co-opted another generation to give their lives to a cause that many could never ever reap any benefits. Rush has become the ultimate paradox, letting him continue to spew his hatred and poison is far more advantageous to his opposition than anything they could do otherwise.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:45 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.