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. cynicalferret

    The saddest part of this article that I saw was the fact that Rush's program reportedly reaches 15 million people...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  2. cecilok

    Mr. Limbaugh is one of the most hate-filled individuals prowling the planet.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Pensimmon

      I agree. We must choose to ignore the ignorant, offensive, rude, low life.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  3. Jon Reid

    Folks, this is how this guy stays employed. What better way to make the headlines than to go after the Pope. Enough of the hype, don't fall for it.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  4. stephen

    well that's it cnn, last straw. this is the #1 news story? i mean i know this site never held much credibility, but really you've just become tmz for politics.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Tim

      It shouldn't be the top story, but there's 84 pages of comments on it? I think you might be mistaken.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • martiniano

      CNN is a business. They make more money when people click on their articles. Therefore they post articles to provoke clicks and comments. Your comment is just as good to them as a positive comment so you just played into their hands. If you really want to show CNN how you feel DO NOT click on articles or headlines that you don't care about.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  5. james wallace

    Rush Limbaugh is preaching pure windbaggery. Anyone who thinks he's a pundit rather than a self-promoting blowhard is delusional. And it's truly frightening how many of those delusional, ill-educated, hate-filled ninnies there are!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  6. Todd

    Rush is totally wrong on this and proves what a stooge he is for the elites. The Pope is spot on about what truly ails the World – idolatry of money. Rich keep getting richer, and bailed out when they don't do so well with their Wall Street Gambling. As for the rest of us – I'm sure Rush and his fellow traveler Globalists could care less.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  7. Brian

    The interesting thing that a lot of folks forget is that Marx emerged among of variety of 19th century philosophers and political theorists in Western Europe called "socialists" and was certainly not the first. It was in fact one crucial difference in his ideas and those of his predecessors and contemporaries that leads to Communism/Marxism being distinguished from Socialism: the others were all Christians (both Catholics and Protestants) and Marx was an atheist. Socialism was born from Christian scholars disgusted with how contrary the material greed and developing class system were to the teachings of Christ. The notion that the left are a bunch of Godless heretics only came from the Bolsheviks adopting Marxist Communism as opposed to more mainline Socialism. The hypocrisy of the "morale majority" supporting the militaristic and trickle down policies of Reagan and the Bushes was never lost on me and the natural alliance between Socialism and true Christianity should come as no surprise. Finally, don't forget that in poll after poll American Catholics are consistently 50% conservative; 50% liberal.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Tom

      Marx studied class struggles through out history and determined that religion, as practiced then, was alienating – and in some cases just as oppressive as, or complicit with, the ruling class, hence his statement 'Religion is opium of the people'.

      This new Pope understand the role of religion, as an instrument of justice and liberation. It should not be a silent spectator, or complicit to, the subjugation and suffering of billions of people – of all faiths – by few who have chosen to make WEALTH their God.

      Rush Limbaugh is serving his masters. MONEY is his deity, not God. Sadly, he has become opium to millions of uneducated, fanatic and irrational followers.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Eric

      Too bad 90% of the youth is more concerned with likes on facebook then saving America. The rich just keep you stupid and in denial until it all ends. You can't tell me that the Republican's steady cutting of funding for education and public assistance programs designed to help people get a jump start on a real productive life isn't clear indication that they want the American people as useless, brow beaten, and stupid as possible. I mean every time a new policy is suggested to give an underprivileged community in America some help competing with white America the Republican party screams and moans about how "THEY TOOK OUR JORBS" or "GHAT DANG TURRORISTS" or any of the other classic BS scare tactics that works on the uneducated. Clearly one group wants the rich to say rich, and the poor to stay poor, and it OBVIOUSLY isn't the party suggesting increases in public assistance programs, funding for education, and increased taxes for the rich.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  8. JOE

    Rush Limbaugh, the 60's draft dodger, doper, has 3 ex-wives and no kids, and got busted for illeagal Viagra and he's dissin' the Pope. WOW!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • lol??

      The Beast has made the claim on marriage power. TNX, socies!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  9. JustWho

    Fat slob ranting about which he noes not – nothing unusual about that.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  10. Spender H

    I would say that Marxism is a theory that "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding governmental power."

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      ?? Marxism postulates that rich people just get richer until society crashes down on them. It's not exactly a pro-government movement.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  11. airbornevet187

    This guy with his track record can comment on the Pope and feel comfortable about it?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  12. billcody

    so Rush attacks anyone who won't say Merry Christmas during the rest of the year and now he attacks Catholics (one of the leading "Merry Christmas" sayers in the world). wow. what friends do you have left Rush? Next thing you know Rush will be saying that the Bible is wrong when it talks about being married multiple times being equivalent to adultery.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  13. Wallster

    Rush, you're dead WAY longer than you are alive and money is on the bottom of the list of what you've accomplished. Your legacy is all you take with you when you leave this life.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  14. Ruth Hernandez

    It appears Mr. Limbaugh doesn't understand the Christianity, and is trying to twist the Pope's words. What the Pope is preaching is the message of Christ. Mr. Limbaugh maybe it would help if you open your bible, and read the parable of the poor rich man, or maybe seek the help of Christian to understand the words of the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  15. TBONE

    I am sorry to say this, but as Mr.Limbaugh gets older and closer to passing from this life, now in his 60s, when he stands before the creator on Judgement day and asks what has he done that has been so great to get into heaven, it will be hard to explain because with all his money he will have worshipped the one idol, money. It will be harder for him to get into heaven and I believe god will hold him accountable for his acts of hate and deception toward millions. Many of his self serving Republican buddies including his idol Ronald Reagan will stand before the creator and I believe it will be very hard for that group to make it into heaven, all the pain and suffering and hate they have spewed. Such a shame that such a personality could be filled with venomous hate and greed.

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

      The ultra conservative evangelicals are really whooping it up on this.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • DrWu2

      Rush is absolutely correct on this one. The Pope is talking like a Marxist. It's frightening that people are attracted to an evil anti-God and anti-Christian political philosophy. One of the cornerstones of the Creator is free will. Demanding and forcing to take away people's wealth via government or power structure and giving it to anyone else deemed to need material things is not Christianity.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  16. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  17. Andy Botwin, New Orleans

    It's getting harder for Limbaugh to keep his name in the headlines by saying outrageous things. Perhaps he is out of Oxycotin?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • lol??

      MORE prisons??

      December 2, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
      • dave bowen

        Rush Limbaugh would not recognize the truth of things,if it bit him on his big,fat,drug soaked,illegal immigrant hiring backside. Has anyone noticed that he bears astiking resembelence th Hermann Goering?

        January 3, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
        • Steven Rudin

          Rush is proof that money and fame do make people happy.

          January 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
  18. Just another Atheist

    Pretty sad when atheists such as myself hear the Pope's words and am inspired to be a better person while good 'ole boy "Christians" such as Rush and indeed the entire GOP attack and label him.

    The Pope is saying nothing that hasn't been seed before... about 2000 years before.

    Don't wait for somebody else to make the world a better place. That is OUR job.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • DrWu2

      I have been a lifetime Catholic and while I generally respect the fundamental moral philosophies of the church I completely agree with Rush about this. The Pope is talking like a Marxist. What is more frightening is the number of people who are agreeing with his political philosophy. Don't forget that the leaders in Catholic church have been a history of being dangerously wrong when they have engaged in politics of the past. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy had political support from the church leading up to and during WWII.. and as a youth Hitler grew up as a Catholic.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
      • UncleM

        So DrWu2, you're a catholic but not a christian?

        December 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
      • Sven

        I guess you don't remember the one about the money changers in the temple.
        You're the reason that people leave the church, with your self-satisfied, sanctimoneous snobbery. the Bible's great until you start practicing its principles: charity, doing unto others, etc. Where would THAT get us?
        Besides, is the oft-married Rushmesiter lobbying to be Shadow Pope now, as well as running the RNC? Where will he find the time? I don't hear Francis telling him how to do his job, like better strategies for insulting women, handling his addiction issues, or his propensity to blatantly lie, and then deny it when confronted with the evidence.
        Maybe you should go to the same church Rush attends, or better still: help him start the Church of St. Rush! You're a natural acolyte, and it would be a great way for you both to make more money off the brain dead sheep that follow him!

        December 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
      • Pensimmon

        Remember that Hitler was extreme RIGHT WING. Fascism is the extreme right, which you seem to be extolling. I think the Pope is preaching Christi's word.

        December 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
      • Acts of kindness

        You are obviously part of the GOP. (Greed over people).

        December 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Dave Blundell

      Incredibly well said. As a Christian leader...the Pope is just telling us the same things Jesus said 2000 years ago. Unfortunately the vast majority of us hypocritical Christian leaders would rather be comfortable, safe, and arrogant within the walls of our church buildings rather than be like Jesus.

      December 3, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  19. TNCrow

    Rush, put the pill bottle down and stop making an idiot of yourself. Yours and the Pope's philosophy are the same.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • lol??

      More prisons?? The socies disguised as christians in the WCTU are still here!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  20. NMC

    I'm not a catholic but everytime this pope opens his mouth, I respect him a little more. Funny how I feel the exact opposite way about Mr. Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Big Lansing

      Excellent point. I totally agree.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
      • UncleM


        December 3, 2013 at 5:13 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.