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. Brenda

    Must be silenced FOREVER.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  2. Doc

    Are we still listening to Rush Limbaugh? Why is he still important to pay attention to? He is an idiot who is willing to say anything to put his name in lights and the media is gullible enough to listen. I'm proud of our Pope. As the rest, never have I seen and heard such a humble man who is willing to change Catholicism to a new level. Thank you Pope Francis. You walk the walk and talk the talk.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Gyh8r

      You listen to obama and he's the biggest idiot there is!

      December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • fintastic

        Nope, sorry, that would be George Bush.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Jack Woodburn

      Would you please provide just one example of anything the Pope has CHANGED? Supposedly he wanted to audit the Vatican Bank, but that went nowhere with the College of Cardinals. He talks a good talk, and he sets a good example with symbolic thinks like the Vatican apartment and all, but what has really changed in the Vatican or the Catholic Church? This not a cynical question, Mr. Doc.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  3. Lemon Talks

    CNN use to be a top news station now its...



    who will win........who will control the world....

    ~~~~~~Excelsior Stan Lee

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • hopeyouguessmyname

      Quit talking with a lemon in your mouth,And spit those babys out.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
      • Hugh Jass

        When life gives you Lemons, dump them in the trash can.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  4. Charlie Rocket

    Rush Limbaugh belongs on FOX, with the rest of the old, white, self-serving, angry, Republicans.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Lemon Talks


      December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • Jack Woodburn

        DITTO !! (pun intended.)

        December 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  5. txjew

    No one knows sad and unbelievable like Rush

    December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  6. Quasit

    Rush would be so much better as Pope. The Host would be laced with Oxycontin; every Mass would be a wild party. And they'd be followed by enormous feasts for wealthy donors, including a vomitorium well-stocked with feathers.

    For entertainment after that, Rush can mock the sick and poor just like Jesus did.

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

    I want some of the stuff Rush L, is smoking.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  8. lol??

    The libs are really goin' nutso on this piece. Bottled up hate.

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

      That you defend Rush surprises me not at all.
      Rush=hate. Where have you been?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  9. mique

    Poor Rush. He proves it again and again....Once a nimrod, always a nimrod. I agree that Jesus would not have been a Republican! Can you just imagine how different the New Testament would be?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  10. afnmvet

    I guess Rush would have been happier if the Pope would have commented on right ring fanatics that preach family values when they are on their 3rd marriage and are recovering prescription drugs addicts huh?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  11. Mike Rebstein

    Thpat's funny – I thought Karl Marx did not believe there is a God.
    Poe Francis is a breath of fresh air, and if he is upsetting Conservative bigots he is following in the steps of Christ.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  12. Jack Woodburn

    This article's obvious slant and intent again demonstrates why MSNBC'S strident leftist views are killing its TV and radio market share/ratings. They are simply out of touch with much of America. I don't agree with everything Rush says, but he isn't a political figure or high level bureaucrat with legislative or policy authority, respectively, So why is this a lead story? MSNBC just keeps digging its hole deeper and deeper. It's actually kinda funny to watch. And it will be interesting to see if this courteous post gets edited out.

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

      It's a lead story because he is, for better or for worse, a media figure that millions of Americans pay attention to, and who is able to sway opinion. Decades ago Father Coughlin was important for the same reason- he had a radio show with millions of listeners who took what he said seriously.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • quidestveritas

      you do realize this is CNN and not MSNBC, right?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • Jack Woodburn

        Oops, my bad! Thanks for pointing it out. I've been bouncing back and forth between these two sites. I was just at MSNBC and watched my courteous non-confrontational post get deleted three times by Discus. I am not joking. But the bottom line of my post above is the same. Like their slant or not, Faux News is killing both CNN and MSNBC/NBC, CBS, ABC in virtually every evening time slot. They have a weak AM set of hosts, so the Today Show and/or ABC's Morning Show consistently beat them. Viewership and advertising revenue speaks louder than anything folks might want to suggest about which news outlet has a more credible link with most of America–you know, "fly over country."

        December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  13. rcj112

    I wish Limbaugh would get back on the pills. Maybe he'd do us all a favor and OD.

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

      Oh my...lol...what a sight that would be...could one even get more bloated than he?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  14. Sissy

    Rush Limbaugh? I thought he died a while ago. He's still alive? SMDH

    December 2, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  15. Paul

    Capitalism is not a sin. Love of money is a sin.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  16. Jim Hadel

    Whenever Limbaugh states a "fact" is has been proven that there is a 65% chance it is fiction. I have no trust in the garbage that comes out of his mouth. He is an entertainer much like the Kardashians.

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

      Every time he lies his lips move.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  17. f carter

    Poor Rush always letting his mouth rule his head..his ratings go down and his premature instincts for survivable is to go after some big game

    December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  18. quidestveritas

    how many people listen to Rush Limbaugh? I googled that, and i saw that he claims to have something like 15-20 million people who listen to him. other estimates vary, but it looks like the 15-20 million is about as close as one can get researching this on the internet. the 2010 census said there were roughly 309 million people in the u.s. thus,even taking his largest personal estimation of listeners (20 million) that would mean that he has about 6.5% of the total u. s. population listening to him. that means 93.5% of the country is not listening to him. if that's the case, why is he considered such a huge influence over the country and why does the media pay so much attention to him. honestly, if it weren't for articles like this most people (including myself) wouldn't know anything that he says.

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

      That's an enormous listenership for one radio show. Plus, the beliefs he espouses don't just stay dormant in the heads of his listeners, rather they spread them to like-minded people who don't or can't listen to him. He has a very large influence on the white male demographic in most age groups except for teenagers and college students.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Jack Woodburn

      You and I have a similar perspective...we just approach it a bit differently. I consider myself somewhat right of center on most issues. I rarely listen Limbaugh–he is a bit strident for my taste...much like several so-called broadcasters/commentators on MSNBC.e.g., Sharpton, for starters. Who really cares what Limbaugh or Sharpton does or does not say?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  19. Bob

    Lymby, is druggy goody.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  20. JB

    The pope is a marxist? I wonder what Rush thinks of Jesus Christ? Youch!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:51 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.