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. allenwoll

    Rush needs Open-Head surgery AT ONCE ! ! ! . Use an acetylene torch for optimum results ! ! !

    December 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Anna1953

      Ha!Ha!Ha! Good one!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  2. boger

    Thank you Rush Limbaugh!!! It's about time someone stood up to this do-gooder Pope, and thank you for championing what really matters... Money! Screw the poor and sick. Fight to take away health care for them, because the only thing better than an oppressed poor person is a dead poor person. I applaud you for standing up for the REAL core values of the Republican Party. It sickens me how a lot of Republicans pretend to care about the poor and minorities, when nothing matters more than MONEY, sweet wonderful MONEY. Your words are a breath of fresh air in this stench filled country (the poor are very dirty too...). Thank you again, and may your words of true Republicanism reach the ears of all so they will know that the petty lives of the poor are completely valueless, and if ANYTHING comes between the GOP and a slightly higher return on investments, you will be there to fight for the already fabulously wealthy!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Va

      Good one Boger.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      Jesus was a commie, too. Dwight Eisenhower was the worst commie of all. And Rush Limbaugh has a high school diploma.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Paul

      Nicely done sarcasm. Congratulations!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • JOSH

      Cculd not have said it better..bravo

      December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • sweetwalter

      well said, boger.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  3. JMO

    Wow!! Rush is an embarrassment to the species.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • karl from az

      NO, you are!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • Dave

        No Rush definitely is.

        Ate so many Oxycodone's he lost his hearing.

        What an amazing American

        December 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
      • JMO

        Somehow I knew that would be the response from the "Rush-head" crowd. You can follow your junkie-god, and leave the real soul saving to the pros.

        December 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
      • Parfin Woodel

        I know you are, but what am I.....
        Third grade has not been good to you.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  4. karl from az

    What else would one expect from the 'birthplace' of Liberation Theology, i.e., Marxism parading as Christianity?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  5. Dave

    When is this blow-hard Gloom on Parade (GOP) windbag going to realize no one cares what his opinion is anymore. At least no one that matters

    December 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  6. VEW2012

    The Pope is right, trickle down has never worked. American history from Coolidge, Harding, Hoover, Reagan and Bush have proven repeatedly it doesn't work. Maybe I should have say that Pope is left, but whatever! The Pope has more brains than that loudmouth Fascist Rush and his ilk in Congress combined.

    And no I don't think any of the people affiliated with Fox understand the words charity, sharing, caring, or empathy.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  7. Anna1953

    LOVE it, Mopery!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  8. cross eyed mary

    Nazis hate rush for being like they r. Control everything said and never debate fairly!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  9. Christopher

    When Stuart Varney says ..."He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system", is he talking about Capitalism? Because if he is, then he needs to go back to social studies. Capitalism is an ECONOMIC system, not a political one. Democracy, theocracy, monarchy, communism, fascism, these are political systems. Capitalism and socialism are economic systems.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • A non Catholic

      Sorry Christopher: most of the folks at Fox News live in an alternate universe where up is down so trying to reason with them is like whistling into the wind...

      December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Parfin Woodel

      Gee, maybe I am wrong, but
      when the GOP far right conservatives run political battles
      against woman, gays and blacks, in the name of god....
      I think that qualifies.
      Don't you ?

      December 2, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  10. Just a Guy

    Mr Pope – put your $$ where your mouth is – sell off some of those antiquities (art / sculptures) that the Roman Catholic Church has amassed (some of it confiscated centuries ago) and feed the poor. Selling off a fraction would literally raise millions. And BTW – the Far Left are also highly capitalistic (Wall St and Hollywood types)

    December 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Anna1953

      He's already sold a $40 M Bishop's Palace. He just started. Give him some time.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • TKO

      I really wish rush and the folks who label others "marxists" would read a bloody book. First of all, wealth is not the same as capital ("the left is wealthy too"). Secondly, "redistribution of wealth" is not particularly marxist. third, unbridled greed is not the same as capitalism. fourth regulating wealth is not marxist at all–classical marxism is not about wealth so much as it is about rethinking who it is that "owns" the means of production–natural resources, for example (the answer is "we all do"). love it or hate it, marxism is the economic system that has best predicted and explained the economic roller-coaster of the 20 and 21st century.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • Red Light Paradise

        Wish more people read this post.

        December 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  11. MightyMoo

    Rush doesn't approve of the current Pope? I need to go Catholic.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  12. Flint Rock

    Without real proof Jesus remains a myth to many. Sadly, Mr. Limbaugh is not a myth.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  13. Tim

    Rush doesn't have a clue what a Marxist is. He is attempting to relate what the Pope said to communism. Typical Karl Rove tactic and is being pushed by the Koch brothers' Birch Society agenda. Marxism is a socioeconomic view to deal with arguments going on as the western world was coming out of the Victorian age. There were two classes, the rich and the poor. In America, the change was influenced by the unions and is what helped to create the middle class. Marxism, unfortunately, included the support of revolution and thus made the transition more traumatic. Through the chaos of society growing out of the Victorian era, there came the ideas and the execution of these ideas leading up to Fascism, Nazism, Communism and all of their variations. In my opinion, we are approaching another change in society for which we have no predecessor of knowledge. As computers get faster and smarter, and robotics become even more prolific, how will society deal with this? Mundane jobs like working in the service sector or in agriculture could be completely eliminated with robotics. Just look at Amazon's work on the autonomous delivery system of small 8 bladed helicopter drones. How is society and governments going to deal with millions and possibly billions of people unable to work due to technology?

    December 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  14. nitrous

    I left the Catholic church years ago so I really could care less what the Pope has to say. I care even less what a drug-addled turd with a radio show has to say.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • AnotherPerson

      Then why waste your time clicking on the link, opening the page, and then, at a minimum, skipping straight to the comments section to post on why it is such a waste of your time to read this?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  15. Evenstar

    Limbaugh is a hypocritical bag of bombastic wind from the southbound end of a northbound moose! I sincerely doubt there is anyone on the planet that is or could be more irrelevant!

    December 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  16. EX Catholic

    Well well, but can we expect? The guy is from Argentina, a country that for the most part of it's history has been dominated by Fascists. That hosted many NAZIS after WW2 and that until recent history, photos of Adolf Hitler were found in the barracks of the Army.

    Communism, Marxism and socialism are staples in the politics there still, but then again; who is Rush Limbaugh? Oh, I know an American radical Nationalist! 😉 so... then; what have we here? Well I would say this is inside quarrel between 2 beast in the jungle. Or 2 guys in the same little row boat in the swamp of the jungle, just rowing in opposite directions, struggling to be one to lead the little row boat somewhere. 😀 😀

    December 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  17. Sal Martorano

    The pope is right. Just take a look at the corporate greed that is running the country! limbaugh is a disgusting right wing tea party freak. 

    December 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  18. Marty in MA

    If Limbaugh doesn't approve, it must be somethng good.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  19. Andy

    I'm sure all you leftists on here do not realize how many poor people have been helped be so called evil capitalists.

    Why would you? You watch cnn, the communist news network.

    December 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Rhett

      Many they help a few – but only when it's highly publicized, a tax write off or the wing of a hospital named for them. The rich hurt and destroy far more people than they've EVER helped. This is historically true.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      and apparently so do you, so hi *waves*

      December 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  20. Lemon Talks

    i am a liberal and i read Evangelii Gaudium.

    if you have read any of karl marx's works you would find Evangelii Gaudium falls right in line with them.

    unfortunately most liberals hate rush so much they don't bother to even check if what he is saying is correct.

    i call these the uneducated emotional liberals who reject all of reality for an agenda

    December 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • curmudgeon

      Yeah, You're a liberal? ROFL
      And the Pope is an atheist...

      December 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Steve

      Your not a liberal.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      So out of interest, tell us exactly what the pope said that was purely marxist?

      December 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • AnotherPerson

      While there may be people that would argue that Christianity and Marxism shouldn't mix, they must not be aware of the way the early church lived or of the teachings of Jesus because Christianity and socialism/Marxism are very similar.
      Which is why I am surprised that Rush is shocked that the Pope would be saying what he is saying. Rush obviously hasn't spent much time studying the New Testament.
      So, while the facts are true, once again, Rush completely misunderstands and misrepresents something.

      December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • A non Catholic

      It's amazing to me how little we expect of people in leadership today...Rush is a talk show host and this gives him credibility??? Help us!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Red Light Paradise

      I just spit my beer onto my monitor !!!
      That was too freaking funny.

      December 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
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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.