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. Big Lansing

    Rush Limbaugh would be funny if he weren't so pathetic. No one really needs to know what Rush thinks about anything. Why CNN gives him any attention is beyond me.

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

      Because he has an audience of 15 million and someone needs to highlight his hate-mongering. Rush's legacy when he leaves this plane of existence will be hatred for those not like him...old, fat, white, male...,his inability to get the facts right....Rush has never seen a fact that he couldn't spin into something totally unrecognizable.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  2. Jimbo

    Dozens of the richest billionaires in the world (Gates and Buffet among others) have pledged to give most of their holdings to foundations that serve the poor around the world. They certainly are Capitalists that can agree with the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  3. Marie

    I wondered how long it would take these pundits to go after the Pope once he revealed that his beliefs are more rooted in the teachings of Jesus than prior Popes and most Christians these days – he believes in compassion, charity, and love for his fellow human being. How can anyone knock that – Catholic, Protestant, or Atheist? Rush, you've misjudged Catholic conservatives (and liberals) if you think this nonsense will sway us to abandon our church.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Kurt Leeb

      Marie hit the nail right on the head. Since ascending the throne of Saint Peter, Pope Francis has shown more than any pope in my life time (I am 68 years old and a Roman Catholic) that he follows the teachings of Jesus Christ and he is the biggest breath of fresh air the Catholic Church has seen in centuries. I pray that Pope Francis lives many years. People like Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and Stewart Varney should keep their mouths shut (to keep from looking stupid) and contemplate what our religious leaders SHOULD be doing and saying!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • Alice

        I left the church behind ages ago because of hypocrisy (and a non-stop curious mind). There is nothing wrong with having faith, as well not having faith. But Pope Francis has revitalized what it truly means to be called a Christian and it scares the so-called "Moral Majority" in this country because what they've been peddling, has nothing to do with morals or Christianity. They have twisted the teachings of Jesus to line their pockets and because there was no other message to compare, many "believers" took their heresy as the true word of God. This should be a wake-up call to the "Religious Right" but unfortunately too many are already damaged beyond repair. However hopefully, it's not too late for the younger generation to be saved and therefore put these charlatans out of business.

        December 3, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • Monk

          How can a person know which religion is right?
          (1) On what are its teachings based? Are they from God, or are they largely from men? (2 Tim. 3:16; Mark 7:7) Ask, for example: Where does the Bible teach that God is a Trinity? Where does it say that the human soul is immortal?
          (2) Consider whether it is making known the name of God. Jesus said in prayer to God: “I have made your name manifest to the men you gave me out of the world.” (John 17:6) He declared: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matt. 4:10) Has your religion taught you that ‘it is Jehovah you must worship’? Have you come to know the Person identified by that name—his purposes, his activities, his qualities—so that you feel you can confidently draw close to him?
          (3) Is true faith in Jesus Christ being demonstrated? This involves appreciation of the value of the sacrifice of Jesus’ human life and of his position today as heavenly King. (John 3:36; Ps. 2:6-8) Such appreciation is shown by obeying Jesus—sharing personally and zealously in the work that he assigned to his followers. True religion has such faith that is accompanied by works.—Jas. 2:26.
          (4) Is it largely ritualistic, a formality, or is it a way of life? God strongly disapproves of religion that is merely a formalism. (Isa. 1:15-17) True religion upholds the Bible’s standard of morality and clean speech instead of weakly going along with popular trends. (1 Cor. 5:9-13; Eph. 5:3-5) Its members reflect the fruits of God’s spirit in their lives. (Gal. 5:22, 23) So, those who adhere to true worship can be identified because they sincerely endeavor to apply Bible standards in their lives not only at their places of meeting but in their family life, at their secular work, in school, and in recreation.
          (5) Do its members truly love one another? Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) Such love reaches across racial, social, and national boundaries, drawing people together in genuine brotherhood. So strong is this love that it sets them apart as being truly different. When the nations go to war, who have enough love for their Christian brothers in other lands that they refuse to take up arms and kill them? That is what early Christians did.
          (6) Is it truly separate from the world? Jesus said that his true followers would be “no part of the world.” (John 15:19) To worship God in a manner that he approves requires that we keep ourselves “without spot from the world.” (Jas. 1:27) Can that be said of those whose clergy and other members are involved in politics, or whose lives are largely built around materialistic and fleshly desires?—1 John 2:15-17.
          (7) Are its members active witnesses concerning God’s Kingdom? Jesus foretold: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) What religion is really proclaiming God’s Kingdom as the hope of mankind instead of encouraging people to look to human rulership to solve their problems? Has your religion equipped you to share in this activity, and to do it from house to house as Jesus taught his apostles to do?—Matt. 10:7, 11-13; Acts 5:42; 20:20.

          December 3, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
      • JR

        I love the way the Pope lives modestly. As far as Pope's go, I think he's setting a good example. However, I think the point Rush is making (by the way I don't listen to him) is that he's misguided if he is criticising capitalism. Capitalism, with all it's flaws has provided more for more people in the fairest way. That's not to say that the wealthy can't and don't use their power to their advantage or that there should be no regulations at all. However, the results on non-capitalist system have been catastrophic and brutal, all in the name of equality for all. As for following Jesus' teachings, I'm sure the Pope does follow many of them. But what teachings of Jesus can you quote that seem to discourage capitalism and encourage state run charity vs. individual charity. I think many think Jesus is preaching against capitalism when he speaks of taking care of the poor but I don't see that. Please provide me some scripture references that speak against capitalism, not just charity in general.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
        • Alice

          Hello JR; you are indeed correct that capitalism is not without its flaws and to believe it is flawless, is no different than someone who believes communism is flawless. But I believe the Pope specifically referred to the idolization of money. In essence he's saying, "How much wealth must one amass while others go to sleep hungry?" Many big corporations are guilty of cutting their employees salaries and benefits to almost unlivable standards while top management and shareholders live lavish lifestyles. I believe that is the topic Pope Francis elaborated on. Now how it got from that to Marxism and anti-Capitalism in Rush Limbaugh's head, is a mystery.

          December 3, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  4. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium does suggest forced charity or redistribution of wealth by force.

    exactly how was rush wrong?

    Evangelii Gaudium also says islam is not violent if you read the koran correctly


    need i say more?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • g2-aa3d1145cda478669d467d6a57f7f783

      Please, don't say more. You make the world dumber when you open your mouth.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • przemek

      No, you don't need to say more. I already know you are not very bright.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • martiniano

      Have you read the Qur'an? Not bits and pieces but cover to cover? I have, twice. You don't seem to have.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Eric

      Wow... How did we both come from the same school system? Its frightening

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

      You are going to quote that for us, aren't you?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Lester

      Yes. You need to say "I am and idiot." And the stop proving it by continuing to write dumb comments like that one.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  5. MartinAmerica

    So CNN waits 5 days to spotlight Rush's comments in defense of capitalism as their MAIN web story. Where he said nothing negative about the Pope, only argued that capitalism had been a force for good in the world. CNN, if you want to marginalize someone, you might not want to use their name to drive readership a week after the fact. Rush's "program is estimated to reach 15 million listeners." How's your ratings, CNN?

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

      And how is YOUR rating with Christ, Martin. You and the other 15 million Rush Limbaugh listeners. Rush, and entourage, demonstrate the anti-thesis of Christianity (means the opposite of Christianity). Got a problem with that, Martin? Try reading the advice that Jesus gave to the rich young ruler when asked how he could enter heaven to which Jesus replied, "Go, sell all that you own, give it to the poor, then come and follow me. At this, the ruler turned and walked away. Jesus turned to his disciples and he said, "you see, it will be easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than it will be for ANY rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven." To that, I say, "Go Jesus, Go! And, Thank you Pope Francis" !

      December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
      • MartinAmerica

        Conservative Republicans (especially Christians) give FAR more to charity than liberal Democrats. Look it up. There's a difference between personal charity and the government extracting money through taxes for questionable return on investment (600 million for a non-functional website for example). Rush is one of the largest charitable givers among celebrities.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
        • sonny chapman

          Then ya'll should have nothing to worry about when the Father asks the questions which Jesus said would be posed in matthew 25,31. when we meet our Maker.

          December 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Lester

      Saying the Pope doesn't know what he's talking about sound pretty negative to me. In a different century it would have got him thrown in a dungeon.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  6. Big_D

    Tell Armed Forces Radio to take Rush off the air. DennisFarrell@afrn.us

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

      Yes, let's demand the Armed Forces Network remove someone for using his First Amendment right to speech...not like that's what they're fighting for or anything...

      December 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  7. Rory Ni Coileain

    *falls over laughing* Please, Rush, tell us what an awful person that Jesus guy was, too, with his free health care and giving away food to the poor. Didn't He realize what kind of dependency He was fostering?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  8. seriously

    There is nothing wrong with Marxism

    December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Emma Morrow

      CNN must be desperate for page hits.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
      • sonny chapman

        Almost 4,000 !!

        December 3, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  9. CamDen1

    What Limbaugh doesn't like is the fact that the pope is reconciling the difference between how catholics preach and how they vote. It's all good nd well that Jesus clothed the poor, fed the hungry, and, yes, in fact, provided health care to those who could not afford it (healing the blind and the lepers, ect.). For too long, Republicans tout moral superiority but then abandon the poor in their own country. They are anti-foodstamps, anti-welfare, basically anything that would help the poor, they are against. Further more, Christ wants all to prosper, not just the 1% that can manage to hold down the other 99%. Republican economic theory is the furthest thing from Christianity that there could be. Finally, there is a Christian willing to stand up and say, we have to reconcile our political beliefs with our moral compass. You can't teach your kids one thing in Sunday school, only to vote against equal rights and welfare programs on Monday. The pope is pointing out the hypocrisy and Limbaugh, with the rest of 'em, doesn't like it.

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

      It is a painful truth Limbaugh doesn't want to face. He doesn't believe in the teachings of Christ, no one in the GOP does.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
      • Dan wormald

        This is a typical Democrat rant about GOP's professing religious superiority.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      Almost 4,000 !!

      December 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Vinny

      That is an interesting point CamDen1, about reconciling political beliefs with one's moral compass. However, there is another side to that coin. Many Christians have long been reconciling their political beliefs with their moral compass by voting for pro-life politicians. I for one agree more with conservative fiscal policies because I believe in the long run they will bring about less poverty, while liberal fiscal policies only provide very short term help and ultimately cause more poverty in the long run (maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right). However, I can tell you that if Barack Obama had been pro-life or was even just more pro-life than Mitt Romney, I would not have even hesitated in giving my vote to Obama. I would do the same for every single election I am eligible to cast a vote in.

      Now before someone says I am changing the subject, let me remind everyone of something. One of the greatest, if not the greatest, servants of the poor of our time, Mother Teresa, said that the "greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion", not capitalism or socialism or any other political belief. Now unless someone can say that they have even done a fraction of the good this simple woman did for the poor, no one really has the right to contend that statement. This lady devoted her entire life to helping the poorest people walking our planet, and saw poverty that many of us Westerners can hardly imagine, but she did not say such great poverty was the biggest obstacle to love and peace, but instead it was abortion. Additionally, Pope Francis has never said we should forget the issue of abortion (despite what the press is trying to tell us), he is just affirming what Catholicism has always taught, that it is never our place to judge or condemn women who have had abortions.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  10. jonquil123

    Has Limbaugh actually ever read the teachings of Jesus Christ or The Bible? It's clear that his criticism of The Pope's position, shows Limbaugh "doesn't know what he is talking about".

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

      Limbaugh is not a Christian.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Alice

      I don't think Rush knows what Marxism is either – very, very sad indeed! What demographic actually listens to this guy? There just can't be that many imbeciles (15,000,000,000 strong??) in America??!!

      December 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
      • Alice

        Oops!!! That's billion....my bad! Long day *15,000,000.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  11. Shelia

    So tell me .. why hasn't the pope sold the Vatican stop eating roast and given to the poor?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  12. lol??

    Libs ain't for legalizing drugs?? Build MORE prisons??

    December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  13. danita

    Love you Rush... You've got more brains than Obama...

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

      If he does he's sitting on them.

      December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Rick Lanahan

      Your Joking,

      December 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  14. Crashman

    The only thing sad and unbelievable is Rush. Pope Francis' ideas pre-date Marxism. It's called Chistianity. The teachings of Jesus to love one another and to take care of each other. Most "Christians" don't practice the teachings of Jesus, they just look for what's "wrong" with other people according to their readings of the Bible.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • JohnChristian in Michigan

      How right you are. It is very sad that so many are deaf to the WORDS of Jesus Christ. But this is the absolute truth from the beginning of time. Man sees himself as supreme and the center of the universe. And like all the species that roam this earth people have to and exert their supremacy of other people, races, religion, culture, etc.

      The Pope reflects the words of Jesus. Jesus did not condemn governments providing for citizens but rather governments AND people for not caring for each other. Jesus did not condemn because of someones color of skin and he certainly did not promote the use of weapons or guns like AK47.

      If all you people that spend so much energy like Rush Dumball living your lives to hate others, just think what this world could be like if you spent that energy doing the opposite?!

      December 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  15. Charles

    Nothing to see here. Just the ranting's of an old fool.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  16. Dale

    Two delusional people arguing about 'beliefs'. Both con men. Who cares?

    December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  17. Vince

    ""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.""

    Umm, maybe he is just reading the bible or god is talking to him. This new pope really makes me want to believe in god again! Imagine a religious leader actually leading by example.

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

      While he sits in his big castle

      December 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • Mary 54

        Sheila, catch up, the present pope will not live in his "big castle'. he refuses to. in fact he does most things like shopping and running errands himself. He is one person that actually does what he says we would should do.

        December 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
        • Karen

          Mary 54, have you ever lived in Italy? I have for 4 years. The Vatican is the last place that should be espousing the evils of wealth and capitalism...the place is fortress, dripping in money and run with mafia-like thuggery. The hypocrisy is mind-blowing! And if you truly believe he does his own shopping and errands, you're a complete fool!!

          December 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
        • Alice

          @Karen: I had lived in Argentina for 8 years while Pope Francis was Archbishop, then Cardinal and there is nothing hypocritical about this man. If you want to criticize the Catholic Church for the 1,000 years of amassing wealth, that's fine. But Pope Francis isn't 1,000 years old and therefore isn't responsible for the "mafia-like thuggery" of his predecessors. He was/is just a man – a highly educated man who envisioned a life bigger than himself to serve his God and his fellowmen.

          As an avowed agnostic, I never imagined I'd EVER be on this side of the debate.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Lester

          And he spends his evenings ministering to the homeless.

          December 3, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  18. jeffision

    The sun is going down on Rush and everything he has represented. It's a new dawn.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  19. kvining

    So, Christ is now a Marxist?

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

      Evidently Marx was a Christian since Jesus was here first.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  20. Lilly

    What do we care what it is called. If it works, we should give it a try. Decades of the other system has only increased the wealth of the wealthy and impoverished everyone else.

    Why are we so hung up on labels? It is obvious that the world cannot sustain the present system of neo-feudalism.

    December 2, 2013 at 2:57 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.