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. John Vance

    It's Rush Limbaugh, he's just doing his job. No biggie.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  2. Parmeshwar Coomar

    I meant Bill Gates and others...clarification. Steve Jobs is more like Rush...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  3. Isiah Goodnite

    Rush Limbaugh accuses the Pope of being a Marxist. He is one of the people on talk radio who will say anything and everything bad about anybody to get attention or ratings. Perhaps old Rush slid off the wagon and ate too much ill-begotten Vicodin with his Thanksgiving meal. Hateful, opinionated, bigoted, and not even a Catholic. What advice can he offer.

    Pope Francis is an enlightened man who realizes that the future of his flock lies in profound change. Todays youth are the future of the Church. It is obvious to most of us older Catholic's that unless profound change occurs soon there will be no ordained clergy to lead at Sunday Mass in just a few years.

    Rush and fellow members of his hate group, tea party or what ever you want to call them are going to be the death of the Republican Party unless its members get away from them and reform. Everyone who is sane knows this too.

    Catholic's believe that Pope Francis is successor to St. Peter. Our Lord said, "Peter you are rock. and on this rock I shall build my Church. And the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

    The Church periodically rethinks its mission and reforms. Radical politicians need to follow suit.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  4. K. Sung

    Really, CNN? You put this "news" in the headline?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • martiniano

      How many times do I have to say this??? CNN is after clicks! You clicked on this article and took time to comment. That allows CNN to charge more for advertising. For God's sake, do you people not think? This is capitalism – everything CNN does is calculated to make money.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  5. bosfaninva

    Rush likes his popes to be ex-Nazis.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  6. atomicpenguin76

    "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 19:24.

    The faith and this pope's adherence to the ideology behind it have never been particularly obscure on this issue, Mr. Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  7. Lemon Talks

    Primetime (Mon-Sun): 481,000 Total Viewers / 153,000 A25-54
    Total Day (Mon-Sun): 335,000 Total Viewers / 100,000 A25-54
    Primetime (Mon-Sun): 645,000 Total Viewers / 190,000 A25-54
    Total Day (Mon-Sun): 401,000 Total Viewers / 124,000 A25-54
    Fox News:
    Primetime (Mon-Sun): 2,011,000 total viewers / 348,000 A25-54
    Total Day (Mon-Sun): 1,201,000 total viewers / 248,000 A25-54




    December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  8. Steve Morgan

    Congratulations to the Catholic church for finally showing it's true colors. The Vatican (if you've been paying attention) has been positioning the church for hundreds of years for control of the inevitable one world religion... whose message will be "everyone is going to heaven" no matter what religion you believe in... even if you're an atheist. Read carefully what the church has been putting out over the last 50 years and it boils down to world peace will come through a one world religion and we The Vatican will be there to administer it for the one world government headed by the United Nations.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It is all laid out in Revelation. The Pope is the anti-Christ!
      Soon, the 7 headed, 10 horned, amphibious bear beast will emerge from the water and bring DOOM.
      7 headed dragons that spew torrents of water will hunt down pregnant women to eat!
      Swarms of armour clad locusts with the face of a man, the hair of a woman, the mouth of a lion and the tail of a scorpion with bring stingy, paralyzing pain to all!

      And when The Rapture comes and all of the true, pious, humble, charitable, forgiving Christians ascend bodily to Heaven, I'm sure the world will miss both of them.

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

        If you mean the end as in the end of the day, then yes, yes the end is night.

        Also, in the tiny tiny tiny chance the rapture isn't a complete lie, I can't wait for it. See just how many Christians who pretend to be pious get left behind and are surprised as to why lol! I'm sure many a catholic priest would still be left for the rest of us to get the same "saving" you got.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • joejeffrey

      It's tough to tell whether your ignorance of history or your paranoia are most breath-taking. For hundreds of years the Catholic Church WAS to only religion in the West. For the past 50 years it's been fighting a losing battle to stay relevant to Western Europe, where churches regularly stand almost empty. Taking over the world by forcing Catholicism down everyone's throats? That's what they did for around a thousand years. A long, long time ago.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  9. Jeremy

    How dare a picture of that idiot be placed next to our Pope.. Who cares what he thinks?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  10. Danika

    Wow, Rushed sure puts a lot of words in the Pope's mouth. Interesting how everything that whiffs of equality to him as Marxist. You can have equality without oppressing the hell out of everyone. Not every plan to bring people to equilibrium is a commie plan to take over the word. Both total socialism and rule of capitalism has its very strong points and its very weak points. Blending the two dooooesn't hurt.

    "This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets," Limbaugh said. "He says that the global economy needs government control.

    ALMOST a statement isn't a statement. Obviously every one of his 15 million listeners are paranoid freaks such as he. Hopefully there's a few people in that number that only listen for the amusement of seeing what stupidity falls out his sinfully ugly mouth next, sort of like I do when I watch Fox News lol!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  11. notogop

    If Rush were a little more widely read, he would realize the Pope is actually preaching the Bible.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Steve

      Does anybody really care what Rush Limbaugh has to say? He has already demonstrated, time and again, that he is a complete idiot.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • Just a Guy

        about 89 pages of comments tells me a lot of folks care what Rush says

        December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  12. Muttley

    I'm not a catholic but I have been impressed with this leadership. Rush Limbaugh is a worshiper of ratings. Once that is understood, if he can get the Catholics upset and the protestants excited...he will increase his ratings.

    First the Pope didn't call for Marxism government. He called for self introspection. Are we our brothers keeper? If we have more than we need, do we consider using our gains to help society? As far as I can tell, the pope was teaching correct principles and then letting us act according to our conscience. Marxism?

    Rush is the Old Timer Hypocritical Conservative "Capitalist". I am all for capitalism and having control of what I earn. I should be able to keep or share my wealth. The pope wasn't calling for a pro marxist government. He was calling for love and compassion to our fellow man. If the hearts of all people were good, no one would go without food. Rush, where is your heart? True Capitalist have heart. Money doesn't change people it only magnifies character. Is Rush doing any good in his world today? The Pope is.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • numbnut

      I agree with everything you said. Thank you.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  13. darrenhankins

    I see the GOP is getting ready to punish a new group the catholic...welcome to the democratic party

    December 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  14. Doc Vestibule

    It's pretty obvious that Rush enjoys all 7 of the deadly sins.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • notogop

      I've forgotten, is stupidity one of those?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  15. A former Catholic

    Rash Lamebrain has been consistently wrong on so many issues for so many years, the fact that he ever had a following at all is both sad and scary and a sign that America needs to get it's act together, while we still can. Out with the Rash, in with the Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  16. Perceptionist

    Rush be trolling hard.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  17. tom

    Take a look at the Vatican, the churches, the ceremonies, etc.. We aren't talking about austerity. Couldn't this money that is currently being spent on opulence be better spent on helping the needy? I don't know the answer but the Pope's position here certainly seems inconsistent.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  18. MTFF

    Well played, CNN, giving the Pope and that loathsome, hateful windbag who has done precisely nothing for humanity equal billing. Stay classy.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  19. ED

    Rush must need a boost in ratings for his show. All he's just a shock jock trying to get people to tune in. Nothing he to say is of any real value anyway. Ofcourse what is really sad is CNN furthered his agenda by making it a top headline.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  20. James

    The Vatican has more money than all the world's banks combined. The Pope needs to clean up his own house which has been plagued with scandals before telling people about the corruptions of wealth. The last time I checked, poor people are building your churches.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:04 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.