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. Sara(swati)

    I feel fairly comfortable is as.suming Limbaugh has never read Marx. What an idiot.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  2. Judith

    Just when I thought I couldn't hate the abscess on the hindquarters of humanity who guys the name of Limbaugh, he's taken my level of despising him one step higher. This man is nothing but toxic waste.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  3. Fr. J.C.

    Pope: Rush is preaching "pure BS."

    December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  4. CJ

    Rush would criticize Jesus(pbuh) as well. To bad for him you can't buy yourself out of hell.

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

      No doubt!! Rush would lead with a story about a hippie handing out fish instead of beef! Real, American raised prime beef!!

      December 2, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  5. Blocked_ID

    I'd rather have a socialist pope than a capitalist pope, and who cares what a bitter old drug addict thinks anyway?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  6. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


    not one person has yet explained who rush was wrong

    December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  7. JenniferC

    I find the last paragraph of this article to be somewhat poorly written in that I do not understand it at all.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Smeagel4T

      Typo. "ending" is "sending".

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

        Thank you.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  8. And Jesus said

    The same thing the pope is saying and doing.. go ahead Rush, complete your thoughts... Jesus was a Marxist.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Richard Davis

      You plucked the thoughts right out of my head.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  9. Peter Petruzzi

    This Peter, the fist pope is a joke! Peter was running the church of Jerusalem. In the Bible it is stated, Peter was the pillar of the chuch of Jerusalem. Paul was to teach the Gentiles. The Armenian Orthodox was your first DENOMINATION. JESUS did not
    start the Roman Catholic church, The bible is the first, all others are denominations. There were about 300 different dinominations up tp 1860 AD. Many vanished. Religious history tells truth. Denominations guide you there way! Another thing confession can not forgive your sins. Bible, says specifically, ONLY THROUGH ME< meaning the FATHER. Jesus also had brothers and sisters. The brothers names are given, but the sisters are not. I was in the Roman catholic church. I learned when i studied the Bible, and met a man that taught religious studies at Penn.State Remember, God loves you, even with faith as little as the size of a mustard seed!!

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

      Your no true Scotsman rant notwithstanding, what about what Rush said?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  10. Albert

    Unfortunately, Rush does not know what communism and Marxism are.Having spent formative years behind the iron curtain, I do have some general idea of what it entails having lived it and it is not what the Pope was asking for. I do know what a demagogue is an Rush has now become its embodiment.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  11. Richard Davis

    Wow...Jesus better not be any hurry to come back to this mess.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  12. Big Giant Head

    OOOOOOOOOOOO...Limbaugh...OOOOOOOOOOOOO...say it again...it scares me...dredging up an old carcass for ratings, eh CNN?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  13. Soulone GodKiller

    Rush= head stuffed up Butt

    December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  14. David

    Pope Francis is an example of why we should be hopeful for the future of our own country.

    Heroes do exist.

    This guy is single-handedly saving Catholicism.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Richard Davis

      Right on David!

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

    Rush is still vertical? I would have guessed he'd be long gone by now. Dang.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  16. JAM

    Best Pope ever! When Rush is against you its how you know you're doing the right thing!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  17. Lucy

    Rush is absolutely correct. And you can add our president to that as well.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • g2-aa3d1145cda478669d467d6a57f7f783

      Lucy, your crazy is showing.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Soulone GodKiller

      you = head up butt

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

      Absolutely Ridiculous!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  18. frieda1977

    Just because someone criticizes capitalism doesn't make them a Marxist. The Pope may be critical of some aspects of capitalism, so what? Rush may feel he needs to be in the public eye more. Like Jesse Jackson where ever there is a camera, that is where they want to be. I suspect that is where this is coming from. The only thing Rush loves more than money is attention.

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

      and drugs...

      December 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  19. BeFly

    So.... CNN, how much did Limbaugh pay you to put him on the headline?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  20. Ware2Run

    Rush Limbaugh is devoid of morals and character because he sold out on those values to the highest bidder.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:08 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.