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. Carl M

    Rush is criticizing Pope? Rush the drug addict is making accusation??? LMAO!!!

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

      He has also ranted in the past about "family values" He is on his 3rd marriage the last I knew.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  2. James Boland

    Obviously, this is a down day in the news cycle.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  3. NorCalMojo

    His ratings must be slipping.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  4. Big_D

    Tell ARMED FORCES RADIO to stop broadcasting Rush's hate! DennisFarrell@afrn.us is the program director.

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

      Emailed! Everyone should post this on their social networks. Flood this guy's email.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • John

      I just sent this, hope it helps:

      DO continue Rush Limbaugh. I am no friend of either party in this, but this needs to be aired so people will think about what these things mean.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  5. Bottom Feeder

    Rush was right on one thing. He's not Catholic.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  6. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Maddy

      Stop posting this. One of Coldplay's worst songs among many.

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

    I don't think Rush's audience even knows who the Pope is let alone what he has said.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Matt


      December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    He's a Marxist because he's not. White. Sound familiar?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  9. Big_D

    DennisFarrell@afrn.us is the address. Tell him we don't need our troops listening to Rush's hate and treason on the air.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  10. Candace Clough

    Stuart Varney, "capitalism" is a political system now? wow we are in some serious trouble

    December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  11. Khan-Noonein Singh

    Pope Francis is the truth, and I'm not even Catholic!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  12. afnmvet

    Why in the world would anyone believe a single thing that Rush has to say anyway. I am a Registered Republican and consider Rush nothing more than a very well paid wind bag.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  13. Matt

    Stuart Varney can take his politics and shove it.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  14. SgtLemongrab

    More proof that the conservatives are (*&!ing insane.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • KS Conservative

      As a conservative, I detest everything RL says! However I get tired of anyone Cons. or Lib catagorizing people that don't agree with them. Please state your opinion make you point concerning the question and quit putting us all ie., cons, lib etc, in a box.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  15. ray

    where are the sickos when you need them? this fat pig should be off the air

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • RD

      So, if you have a different opinion of someone else, they should be banned? Let's censor things we disagree with. You're a real book burner.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  16. Shel

    Anyone who spent sometime with Marx's writing know that Marxism in its purest form calls for greater equality between the haves and have-not's. It calls for a society not driven by the pursuit of material goods but the fulfillment of the soul. The Catholic church (which I am not a member of) had always been a champion of the poor and the oppressed. It's no surprise the Pope (therefore the Catholic Church) would appear as endorsing Marxism. Perhaps there is commonality amongst the good forces in this world. Rush clearly is not among them.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Shelia

      It calls for everyone to be poor and no innovation.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Shelia

      It calls for everyone to be poor and no innovation. The leaders will drink there wine while everyone else starves..

      December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  17. Matt

    Up next, the Pope talks about "turn the other cheek" and el Rushbo wants to know what "surrender monkey" thought that phrase up...

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  18. Stephen

    I agree, for once, with lardball. It is Marxism at its very core.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • bczu

      Remind me again what Jesus preached? It certainly wasnt screw the poor they need to get jobs and support themselves.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • Shelia

        Ha! your in for a rude awaking Heaven is not going to be equal find it interesting that most Marxist Christians never read their bible..

        December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  19. GIUK

    What?! I bet there are thousands of people stupid enough to pay attention to what that dope addict Limbaugh has to say.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  20. Shelia

    The Pope is from Argentina of course he is a Marxist

    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 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.