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. Adventure49

    The Pope is not preaching Marxism; he is preaching Christianity. Obviously something that Rush Limbaugh knows very little about.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  2. Finner

    Gosh, Christianity sounds kinda Marxist when you come right down to it. Giving away your coat to someone who has none? Shocking!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Big Giant Head

      Marxism has the government taking that coat away from you to give it to someone else; Christianity preaches individual values and responsibility. Huge difference.

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

        Your's is an ignorant understanding of Marx. That is how it may be put into practice, but all things – Christianity more than any – are perverted by greedy men.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  3. Grayling

    Rush should stick to what he does best...being a panderer to his flock. His mental constipation and oral diahrrea is what sets him apart from most other talk show hosts.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  4. kelly

    "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." – yes he does. see, i've cancelled out your opinion with mine now we've even!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  5. Richard Davis

    Thank God...I was worried that somehow the Marxism got tainted and wasn't pure anymore.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  6. DOG1

    Limpbaugh is, without doubt, a disciple of the Anti-Christ as are all radical right wing talking heads. Remember that the Anti-Christ uses the name of Jesus ( or their claims to be the "moral majority") to influence people to commit sins, such as hatred, intolerance, loving profit over people, standing in the way of helping those in need, etc etc ad infinitum. When a Catholic leader comes along who actually teachs, AND FOLLOWS, the teachings of Christ they cannot stand to have him heard. It's like sunlight on a bunch of vampires or something!

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

      Wow! Well said.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  7. Dr. Fricke

    And this just shows you how far CNN has gone from doing anything remotely resembling real journalism. This is not a fitting headline for a news organization. But it is fitting for what CNN does.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  8. kelly

    "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." – yes he does. see, i've cancelled out your opinion with mine now we're even!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  9. cel

    Saint Rush The Perfect. Geez, Rush and Palin will attack anybody.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  10. John

    Wasn't Rush the one who said that poor people's children, if they are hungry, should either
    1) Check their food cabinets for food, or
    2) Go dumpster diving for food?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  11. Michael

    What Marx actually was, was an intellectual elitist. Even though Rush Limbaugh promotes himself as communicating with the general public, his isolation in other ways shows him to be an intellectual elitist as well. He is more similar to Marx than dissimilar.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  12. raul c.

    My view on Rush L. station providing his trash is worst than propaganda. It's called the devil's teachings. It can't any worst than this since he's no leader but instead is a cult leader. I wish him luck when he dies since he'll regret his teachings.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  13. Jim

    I think Jesus preached giving up material possessions, everyone contribute what they can and take what they need. I don't think Jesus preached capitalism. If you are going to categorize Jesus as a communist or capitalist, I suspect He is more on the communist side. Sorry to all you right wingers.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      jesus was not a communist he never once suggested people be forced to give up their possesion agaisnt thier free will

      December 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
      • g2-aa3d1145cda478669d467d6a57f7f783

        Your ignorance of both Jesus and communism is stunning.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  14. Kitty Conrad

    One dimwit criticizing another dimwit.

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

      This would seem to come from the queen of dimwittery

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

    Who to believe? A pope or a dope.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  16. Rick

    For the first time in history, the pope is doing and saying the right thing.. It seems like every time someone does the right thing, Rush is around to speak ill of them. I don't understand why he is able to stay on the air with his hate speech all the time. He and Nancy Grace should get married.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  17. ShawnDH

    This is yet another example of America's right-wing wackos having completely lost their minds. They are insane and they are trapped in some anachronistic hysteria from 50 years ago. It's bizarre.

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

      Are you referring to the pontiff, the radio-host, or both?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • lol??

      Yer exactly right on that one. Want a socie Crips or a socie Bloods runnin' things??

      December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  18. No gods

    Please choose your favorite Catholic superst.ition from those below. For the one you choose, please say why it is any more ridiculous than the rest of the garbage Catholics swallow and give an example of a non-Catholic belief which is just as stupid.

    (a) Grocery store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning.

    (b) When I pray for something like “please god help me pass my exam tomorrow,” an invisible being reads my mind and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to meet my request.

    (c) You can pray to a dead person for something. This dead person will then ask God to fulfill your wish. If this happens twice, this dead person becomes a saint; or

    (d) A god impregnated a virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself and then sacrifice himself to himself to negate an “original sin” of a couple we now know never existed.

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

      And what power is it then that gives you life? We are all kindred spirits. Do you see the miricle in birth?
      Don't hate what you don't understand.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  19. Charles Gannon

    It's Lush Limprod, what else do you expect?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  20. Chuckme

    Rush's low information listeners will want to recall the Pope

    December 2, 2013 at 3:06 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.