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. Martin

    Then Limbaugh would have REALLY hated Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  2. Norm

    HI! I'm a liberal. I spit on religion and think people who believe in the Bible are delusional if not downright dangerous. Unless of course they say I can have other people's money that is.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • kvining

      Liberal? I know plenty of religious liberals, they just don't happen to believe in Machine Gun Jesus like you do, you sarcastic twit

      December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Vince

      Why are we so hung up on labels? Do I believe that a book written 2,000 years ago is historically accurate? No. Even as a child growing up Catholic I asked my religion teachers and priests how is it possible for millions of animals to be put on a football field sized boat? No real answer. Why is it seen in a negative light to treat those with the least a little more humane? I'm not religious, but the golden rule is good advice for anyone. Just treat other people the way you would like them to treat you.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  3. Lemon Talks

    how many liberals agree with me that the pope preaches fairy tales?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Balthazaar

      How many conservatives believe in fairy tales like tickle down economics? Or that our president is an alien, or the antichrist, or a Muslim?

      December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • Hugh Jass

        Every conservative believes Obama is a Muslim. Find one that doesn't.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  4. irunner

    I consider myself an ex-Catholic, but really like what I am hearing from/about Pope Francis. On the other hand, I am also an ex-republican, regarding the GOP as one would regard an ex-wife. Until the GOP rids itself of extremists like Rush, I will remain politically unaffiliated.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      why are you an ex catholic?

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

      Too bad all the mindless sheep will keep Rush employed for years and years to come. Until the Oxy kills him anyway.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • lol??

      Crips or Bloods, the lib's choice.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  5. Balthazaar

    Hmmm....................is fox going to give this slimey dirt bag ANOTHER pass? The pope will forgive him because he knows not what he does, but even fox has to see he is a liability, not an asset.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  6. Jesus

    I and my father god are socialist liberals. Just read the bible and you will see. Jesus gave free health care and food to the poor. Something conservatives hate.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  7. Uthor

    It's not like anyone needed more proof that Limbaugh is a big, fat idiot.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  8. Tracy

    Has Rush Limbaugh ever *read* The Bible? Pope Francis is the first pontiff in my lifetime who actually seems to *get* the teachings of Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Candlewick

      So Jesus supports a bloated, inefficient, unsustainable government to care for the poor? Where is that in the bible? Or does he expect you personally to do your part? Taking care of Paul by robbing Peter is NOT charity, and absolutely isn't what Jesus preaches in the bible.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • martiniano

        "bloated" and "inefficient" are your words and they are your opinion based on nothing other than, likely, what Rush has told you to believe. What Jesus taught us is to do what must be done without regard for money – no mater what it costs, you do it if it is the right thing to do. Stop thinking with your pocketbook and start thinking with your heart – as Jesus asked you to do.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Hugh Jass

        "bloated, inefficient, unsustainable government" You Teabaggers just can't stop yourselves.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Katherine

      You're exactly right, Tracy. This is a wonderful Pope and he definitely "gets" the message of Christ. Mr Limbaugh and entourage seem to be more in league with Satan than they are with Christ, consequently, they'd know very little about the message of Jesus, if and when they hear it.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Terri

      Exactly! Limbaugh evidently believes Jesus to have been a Marxist...since Jesus was prior to Marx, I guess Marxism should have been called Christianity? (According to Limpballs anyway)

      December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • Hugh Jass

        Marx was just the guy who pointed out that there's a cycle of rich getting more powerful, then a war which impoverishes them and levels the field, then more powerful rich, then another war . . . but all his ideas about fixing things were stupid. Rich people not being so awful would do a lot to break the cycle, but there they are being awful and not caring.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  9. Superman

    Limbaugh and his ilk worship money as their god. Limbaugh is a liar just like his father, Satan. Limbaugh shows no faith in the true Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Limbaugh is afraid that if everybody prospers, then he will not have enough. Limbaugh shows no love for people; so, he's obviously not part of Christ.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  10. Lester

    Oh, come on. Rush wants publicity, you guys were had.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      He wants to pick a fight with Jesus, he can have all the publicity he wants. Hey, look what the Oxy Moron is up to now!! Yes, he did go there. Want a piece of him, there is enough to go around three times.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  11. Joe DiLeo

    Rush Limbaugh is not an elected world leader. He is a buffoon. Why he is getting headlines over anything he has to say is irrational. However, the Pope is actually returning to the saintly roots of his holy office, namely of Francis of Assisi (who ironically was NOT a pope). It has nothing to do with Marxism, which came much, much later. We must always remember that we have such buffoons as Limbaugh, who will jump onto even the feeblest of slim ideology and fire off ridiculous statements without consideration for sounding sane, and that we should be more skeptical and discreet with our media sources. It makes no sense to pour money into Limbaugh's pocket while he dribbles nonsense. He's blemish, a festering carbuncle on the face of the Fourth (if not also the Fifth) Estate.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      "Rush Limbaugh is not an elected world leader. He is a buffoon." He is the chairman of the Republican Party, isn't he?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  12. Big Bad Bob

    It would be nice if the "Christian" reich wing started acting more like the Christians of the bible. The only thing the GOP "Christians" pray to is money.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • martiniano

      I love your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  13. Gregory

    HaHaHaHa...WOW. Talk about a moron. Why do people still listen to him?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Leon DeGrelle

      I have always found Rush incredibly funny! He is a great comedian! I am not sure why people don't realize that he is such a funny bufoon!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  14. Emma Morrow

    The CNN hacks just haven't figured out this won't hurt Limbaugh and it won't hurt the Pope, it's only making CNN look small.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • martiniano

      This is beautiful for CNN and here is why: the more clicks they get on their articles the more they can charge their advertisers. So CNN and all the other web outlets will post provocative headlines just to get people to click on them. Then they can say "Your ads will reach 40,000 (or whatever #) readers per hour and here is the proof in actual clicks.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  15. Bo T.

    Hmm Rush? You have Less than 1% number of followers compared to the Pope. You're opinions don't matter.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • MartinAmerica

      And CNN has 14.6 million less of an audience than Rush. Point?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  16. seriously

    This is not news, let alone a leading headline #getacluecnn

    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  17. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  18. fintastic

    An episode of Jerry Springer.......

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

    It is sad and unfortunate that the views of Rush L. on any topic are considered worthy of "front-page" coverage.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      only front page on CNN lowest rated news network

      December 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  20. Ed Kessler

    you needn't be a Catholic to honor, praise, and agree with Pope Francis, perhaps the wisest, most believable and trusted God person I've ever seen. In a world of unbridled greed that could so easily become a world of sensibility rather than self-possessed greed, Limbaugh exemplifies all that the right of free speech has become – so abused in hate and money mongering – can Americans somehow never listen in, never buy his brands, get this ignorant humanoid off the airwaves and back into his cave.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:55 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.