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. rachel

    Dear Rush,
    Why would the pope give two holy cuss words about anything that comes out of your big, fat, jowly mouth? He's the pope. Go get a bucket of fried chicken with extra skin and bring yourself closer to to the end please. That is all.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  2. Harry101


    Trickle down economics is a fail .... Mmmm, do we really need a pope to tell us this? The only people who don't know this live under rocks or have more money than they deserve, which is WHY trickle down economics does not work
    Trickle up did not work. I think now is the time to start middle trickle. That will be the answer.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  3. Karen

    There's an excellent discussion of Christianity and Socialism and how they complement each other. It's at http://www.progressivechristianalliance.org/Blog/articles/christianity-and-socialism/
    on the Progressive Christian Alliance website if you're interested. The discussion includes pertinent Bible references.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Jack Woodburn

      Unfortunately, the organization's name kills its credibility. An organization using the term "progressive" in its name or mission statement will fall on deaf ears given the mess that declared and closeted progressives have made of things since the Johnson administration. Actually, it goes back even further, but Johnson's Great Society was when the train of what had made America the envy of the world really started to come off the tracks. It been sad to watch over the course of a lifetime...and yes, both Bushes contributed to it as well. They were of the closeted variety.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  4. cryofpaine

    “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.”

    So, if you aren't voting to prohibit abortion, deny contraceptives, or prevent gays from marrying because of your religious beliefs, then why are you? You're just a jerk?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  5. Treppie

    Why does anyone care what he thinks? What an idiot.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  6. Joan

    WHY in the name of any shred of professional journalism is what Rush Limbaugh thinks headlining CNN.com?? If you look at the actual segment of people who slavishly follow his show, compared to not only the rest of this nation but of a global audience related to all things papal, then there is no justification for promoting his opinion as if it mattered.

    I will never cease to be amazed at how much of this man's success is due to overhyping by the supposedly mainstream media. You guys just keep giving him a platform. WHY? What's in in for you? Must be something, because it seems to be worth a lot more than the hit to your credibility as "news" organization.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Jack Woodburn

      Bashing Limbaugh and other conservatives is just a way to appeal to CNN's dramatically decreasing viewership base. Folks at CNN and MSNBC as well as the rest of the so-called left leaning media editorially do not understand basic concepts of viewer ratings and market share. As I noted elsewhere, this continuing foolishness given the dropping advertising revenue (not slots, but the amount they charge based on viewership) is actually kinda fun to watch. They just keep digging their hole deeper and deeper. One definition of insanity? "Doing same thing over and over expecting different results."

      December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  7. Cricket666

    I'll never understand what CNN gains by reporting on this low life druggie. He's insignificant.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  8. Cindy

    Way years ago I read an article that said that if every man and woman capable of donating 25 cents donated as in number of people in their household say like four people would be a dollar... There would be no one starving on this earth. It's sad when you think of the ones abusing a donation center by getting rich themselves off the generosity of others. They sleep fine even though a Veteran needs help desperately, or a family is starving in a third world country, or another is burying a loved one because they did not have access to healthcare. We are all barbarians turning a blind eye towards our planet. Our world has thousands of donations going to help different needs and the main one is for food, but yet people are still starving.

    I don't believe the Pope is on target at all. Because even with a one world food distribution center, there will still be those to abuse the system because money trumps all. Just look at our donation system that we have now, and you can see whom on this earth will be able to profit the most. Those at the top.

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

    Rush, you are nothing but an over-publicized windbag. As a Marxist I take great offense to your comments. A true Marxist would immediately dissolve all of the churches holdings and redistribute equally to all. They would then abolish themselves as the tyrannical hierarchy they have been for over two millennia.

    You speak to millions of small minded people every day. I know you know the true basis of Marxism and actually know of some of its advantages. Drop the disingenuous rants and speak of the truth for a change.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  10. Carl

    Old Mush Blimpblob strikes again. If the Pope is Marxist then what does that make Rush? A capitalist pig perhaps?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  11. Jim R

    Let me see...Neither has the moral authority over anyone. Both are members of the same primate species. Oh, and they both obtain the same future outcome, non-existence when they die. Grow Up America. Use your reasoning because it's not what you think, it's how you think.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  12. Harry101

    I'm sure Rush is loving the free publciity CNN.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  13. Bryan

    Trickle down economics is a fail .... Mmmm, do we really need a pope to tell us this? The only people who don't know this live under rocks or have more money than they deserve, which is WHY trickle down economics does not work.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      How dare you blaspheme the infallible policies of Saint Reagan of Gipper!

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

      More money than they deserve? Who decides how much money a person "deserves". I thought as long as people made money honestly, they can work as hard as they want....to make as much as they want.....to be as successful as they want.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        When wealth is built on the exploitation of those who work for you.
        When an extraordinarily small percentage of the population owns and controls the wealth and assets of 99% of the entire world and hoards said wealth to the detriment of all but themselves, they have too much money.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • Hugh Jass

        " Who decides how much money a person "deserves". I do. If you have millions and are still a spoiled brat and a waste of human skin, you need to give most of it away and shoot yourself.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  14. Mashu

    I guess all these pure and selfless ,giving and caring share with poor whatever little they have ,you all I believe have right to throw a stone or write your words of anger at this man because you are always selfless and giving and sharing .You spend what you need and give the rest to the alms and poor and deeply concerned about your friends kith and kin when are in need of money. You truly follow the doctrines of god and walk the walk . You are all pure souls. God bless you!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      "throw a stone or write your words of anger at this man " Why, thank you, and gesundheit. Are you defending Rush or the Pope today?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  15. qqq

    Why is Limbaugh upset? There's nothing really new about what the Pope said. The church has always criticized greed and advocated for a social doctrine. What is he expecting him to say? That there should be a marginal tax rate of zero on the rich?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  16. alyosha

    CNN, the bias is so obvious. Consider this agenda-driven contradiction in this article: 1. you claim that "The Pope's critique of capitalism thrilled many liberal Catholics"....,then, scrolling down, you get in your lefty dig at Rush by contradicting the above claim with "In fact, Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, could be just as strong a critic of capitalism, blah blah blah..so, are you saying liberals are "thrilled" even though the new Pope is saying nothing new? Also, Rush is absolutely correct in that the Vatican is a vast treasure of MONEY,..how hypocritical of the Pope to criticize capitalism, and how hypocritical of you libs to support this fakery.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  17. Hugh Jass

    Give me a choice between Rush and a goat's bladder, and I'll take advice from a goat's bladder every time. Get lost, Limbaugh, you big bloated spud. You can't get anything right.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  18. mr sensitive

    Limbaugh's an nitiot (non-thinking idiot)

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  19. Am_man

    oxy is talking.........not Rush!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  20. Friend of Brian H.

    Jesus was Marxist. And Conservative Christians sure do love Jesus!

    December 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Just a Guy

      wrong on the first part, correct on the second. The Good Lord wanted men to change their hearts and place their trust in God and make Him first in their lives, if this happened, everything else took care of itself.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:01 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.