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. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


    liberals how was ruch wrong?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • BDOGG

      Wait a second, isn't Christianity socialism? As far as Rush speaking things that are wrong, its easy to tell for his mouth will be open.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
      • martiniano

        Lemon is a troll – she doesn't reply to any challenges. She just keeps posting pro-rush anti-Christ BS.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  2. Richard Davis

    Rush Limbaugh is an apostate, a disciple of the devil camouflaged in a suit and tie.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • PushingBack

      And about 300 pounds of fat!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  3. David M. M

    It’s abundantly embarrassing when the media provides Rush Limbaugh a pulpit to spew his private agenda to the conservative base. Rush Limbaugh attempts to insight listeners into believing the fall of our Government or provide naive dialog to insult pasts and our current president. The reality of Rush Limbaugh is nothing more than Wally George wannabe but on a larger scale. At least Wally George was entertaining!

    When will the middle of the road conservatives realize Rush Limbaugh is an embarrassment to the conservative party. The growing, and I mean growing conservative Americans are sick and tired of listening to bashing and smashing alternative suggestions or thoughts. God forbid, any person’s who deviates from the “Regan Principles” would be cast out as a liberal or in Rush’s own words a “leftist” Who died and made Rush Limbaugh the “all and mighty Oz”? The fat man behind the microphone who can casts out hatred and bigotry with a single monolog. The simplest explanation of who Rush Limbaugh is he is an entertainer, pure and simple! His listeners lap every word and wait for the next sound bite as if there is an accident on a freeway to slow down and gawk at some poor souls misfortune.

    In closing, I’m going to choose not to address Pope Francis “Evangelic Gaudium” because I don’t want to influence others in my opinions as to what is right and wrong. Each of us have been given that ability to make those decisions on our own. So why can’t Rush Limbaugh do the same? Oh that’s right, because it’s entertainment!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Brian Goettl

      Yes, by all means, silence the opposition. Maybe the fringe, far left wing, big government collectivists need to get the Thought Police organized so that not only will the opposition be silenced, but that they be sent to a gulag in Siberia too. You are a gem of an open minded person indeed.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  4. Smeagel4T

    Rush at the front of the line calling for the Pope to be crucified because Rush doesn't like his message. Interesting how history repeats itself.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • kasia

      Pope speaks of redistributing wealth, yet, our parish just built 13 M, that's million church. Hippocratic pope ever. Why not use the money to give to the poor. We had perfect looking church building anyway, ( Westerville, OH). I was Catholic all of my life, but b/c of this Pope I think of leaving the church

      December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
      • tom

        Don't let the door hit your fat ass on the way out

        December 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
      • Mike Griffin

        "Why not use the money to give to the poor" kasia, do you realize you just quoted Judas Iscariot?

        December 3, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  5. TheObserver

    Without religion, the world would be full of good people doing good things, and evil people doing evil things. But, for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

    – Stephen Weinburg

    I applaud the Catholic church and this new Pope for at least trying to re-establish some connection to the world of human suffering and global concerns. What I don't understand is why Rush's panties are all up in a bunch again, considering that John Paul II was way more liberal, worldly, and embracing toward Islam then this new Pope. I think it's because too many people really loved John Paul II so Rush knew it wouldn't get him any ratings.

    Rush needs to go. He is single-handedly set American social progress back 20 years. He needs to go.

    RIP Paul Walker. It shoulda been Rush. But, only the good die young.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  6. Fred Keyes

    Limbaugh has no idea how much their statements will turn off a significant number of voters who would otherwise tend to vote a conservative ticket. Palin, Varney, and now Limbaugh have opened the eyes of good people who thought their values paralleled their own.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Brian Goettl

      Yeah, probably not. But nice try projecting your wishes onto others.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  7. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


    calling all liberals calling all liberals

    pelease explain how rush was wrong?????

    December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  8. Waronwomen

    American Conservatives are used to their religious leaders stirring up hatred against... everyone not like them. They're used to mouthpieces who support unbridled greed, bigotry, and exploitation. So, when they see a religious leader actually doing as Jesus did (according to the bible), then they are scared. They've been warmed and encouraged by the hatred of their religion... and now they're hearing a different message.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  9. Kraig S

    Maybe the RM Catholic Holy Father will need to start giving away the vast untold riches of the church to government authorities as an example for those evil corporations that he lectures. It hasn't been that long ago when the Rm Catholic Popes manipulated governments through out Europe and South America. So please stay out of my backyard and let me practice my Protestant work ethic.....Make all you can ....save all you can......give away all you can.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Maddy

      To say that the RCC doesn't give away millions a year is ignorant. They are the largest charity on earth.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      What the Pope has pointed out is that the last part of your equation isn't followed.
      The "give away all you can" bit is obviously not in the psychological make up of those who hoard wealth.
      Hence why a miniscule number of people control the overwhelming majority of the planet's wealth and resources.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  10. Squeezebox

    Rush should try reading the New Testament once in awhile. It's shocking the "socialism" that comes out of Jesus' mouth! How about this little gem "the love of money is the root of all evil". Remember when he told the rich boy to sell everything he had and give the money to the poor? Many of the early Christians lived in what are essentially communes.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • chris

      Sorry, but that's not at all what Jesus taught. He said '...And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either.' He did not say '...And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic – and throw in everyone else's tunics for good measure.' That's the difference between reality and the modern socialist's interpretation of scripture. Jesus was about people controlling themselves, not imposing control on everyone else.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Brian Goettl

      Jesus said "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's", indicating a clear separation between church and state. Try practicing what you preach, otherwise you are a hypocrite. Because, Jesus did not advocate that governments take by force the wealth that people have earned and give it to those who have not.

      December 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  11. JBHedgehog

    It looks like Rush has been preaching an extra helping food.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  12. Gwats

    Who is Rush to tell anyone how to run a Church?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  13. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


    why cant i get even one liberal to explain how rush was wrong?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • dm

      Probably because you are not smart enough to capitalize "I" or the beginning of your sentences. Who wants to debate a moron?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
      • Brian Goettl

        Form over substance. Typical of the debating skills of the fringe left wingers.

        December 2, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • mfhpr

      Because a sense of community will never be bred from greed and amassed riches. Contrary to the beliefs of many around the world, and most of our "leaders", greed is not a good thing. They proclaim moral ground where they stand and attribute much of it to their religion, yet their actions in leading this nation are 180 degrees the opposite. This pope is at least seeming to be the people's pope, and many of wealthy of them seem to be having a hard time with it.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • TheObserver

      Why can't I find someone with more than half a brain who can explain why Rush is right?

      December 2, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  14. Gus

    If the church and rush both vanished from the Earth tomorrow, it would be a better place...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • TheObserver

      Amen and Amen.

      December 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  15. Road Warrior 452

    Any given political or economic system that goes unregulated is ripe for abuses of power. Simply recognizing that Capitalism offers great opportunity for abuse of the poor is not a complete rebuke of that economic system. Unions came into being initially to protect workers from unscrupulous Capitalists. Yet, unions today are not about ending Capitalism. Pope Francis is not about ending Capitalism, but urging regulation and morality, specifically protection and relief for the poor. Any Jew or Christian need only look to tradition and scripture to find God's call to take care of the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer who uses politics as his material. He is neither a policy expert nor policy maker. He has successfully raised the dander of whole lot of people who give him way more credit than he deserves. In so doing, he gains audience share (positive or negative; it doesn't matter) in order to achieve higher ratings. Higher ratings means more sponsors. More sponsors means more money. If you don't find him entertaining, change stations and reduce his ratings. That is also Capitalism at work.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Yuri

      The Pope should practice what he preaches, he should give the Vatican to the poor and homeless then he leads by example.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
      • Road Warrior 452

        If you had even an inkling of what the Vatican (the Catholic Church) does for the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, you would not be making a fool of yourself with that comment. Do the research and find out who was in places like Haiti and the Dominican Republic long before anyone else. 50 years before anyone thought about helping the Haitians, the Church was there specifically to help the poor. Mother Theresa, with full Church support, did more for the poor of India than anyone, including the Indians themselves. Many hospitals in the US were the result of Catholic initiatives. According to one article I read, the Church is responsible for 26% of the world's healthcare. So please do the research before making off-the-cuff and off-the-wall comments.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  16. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


    liberals explain????

    why do you refuse to explain how rush was wrong?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Steven Harnack

      Because to try to explain it to you would be like trying to teach a chicken to play the violin, doomed to failure and not worth the effort.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
      • Norm

        "If you can't explain something to a 6 year old, you don't really understand it yourself" ~ R Feynman

        December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Road Warrior 452

      Pope Francis is not forcing anyone to do anything. He certainly allows you your own opinions. He is simply suggesting that there are moral issues that Capitalists should keep in mind so that they work in such a way as to not abuse, but, rather, protect and help the poor. It is worthy to note that people who are unwilling to work are not what the Church considers to be poor. St. Paul is pretty clear about that (1 Thessalonians 2:9).

      December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  17. Getmenone

    Marxism and socialism are 2 different things. The reality is that a private globalist monopoly could indeed unify the world and distribute wealth in a favorable and benign way for all. I can see the structure and the purpose and the type of person that such a proposition would require. I'm afraid that isn't Marxism and depending on the economic distribution, it may actually not even need to be considered a capitalist venture. So the Pope is at no time rejecting meaningful pursuit of wealth. He is simply negating those who take selfish excess without regard for others. The greedy and the centrist. I know what he is saying and with a single point he is shown to be right. You can have a non-governmental free-enterprise taking responsibility for the well being of people on a global scale. It not even a stretch of the imagination.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • standupandspeak

      "The reality is that a private globalist monopoly could indeed unify the world and distribute wealth in a favorable and benign way for all" really? I call Bu!! Sh!!!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • brc

      and yet google just want to tackle death. cowards.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  18. J.A.Miller

    Why does Rush Limbaugh's latest rant deserve front page treatment on a major network like CNN?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • mountainlady

      This opportunistic clown now believes he can criticize the Pope? REALLY?! Why does this guy get any press at all?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • TheObserver

      clicks. $

      December 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  19. Freddie

    Rush is a disgusting body slob that was a full blown drug addict yet he often makes fun of others addicted to drugs.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Gwats

      Preaching to the Choir! Heck yes!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  20. John

    Rush makes 40 million a year spreading lies and hatred. He could care less about the poor. They are waste on the food chain. The working poor exist to pick up his garbage, mow his yard and serve his hamburger. If they die another will take their place. " Why should we insure them? "he asked.
    I will celebrate the day when this disgusting piece of human trash is SILENCED. It starts with YOU people. Don't buy the products of the advertisers that fund his hate filled tirades.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Skp70118

      Why would anyone give credence to a pill junkie? When is the last time Limbaugh feed a homeless person or served at a soup kitchen. Creep!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • Road Warrior 452

        I can think of many reasons why listening to any given radio personality and giving much credence to his or her opinions is a waste of energy. That said, I do respect that many of these people, including Rush Limbaugh, give very generously to worthwhile charities. A little research revealed that, in 2008, Rush donated $4.2M to provide financial assistance to the children of Marines and law-enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:32 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.