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. Tony Sims

    Does anyone really pay attention to what Rush Limbaugh says? This guy knows about s much as the average 6th grader but since he has a TV audience, people have to listen to his harrangues.

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

    Wait till Rush hears what Jesus said on the subject!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • tatanka

      I'm gonna be real disappointed if the Pope says anything about Rush.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  3. MacGregor

    Rush is right

    December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Maddy

      Rush is wrong. Naturally. Again.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  4. KDK

    For all you Rush basher's. He has given more to charity than the top ten contemporary Democrat political figures combined. For example just take a look at the annual charitable contributions of the great abortion loving Catholic's Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi. I think Joe’s average give is about $3K a year. If the Catholic’s leader wants to bash on capitalist’s and single them out to be the evil of all maybe they out to get themselves of his church. Not smart to contribute to an order that wants to take you out. For me I wouldn’t follow a church that states opposition to abortion but allows many pro-abortions to members to participate in Sacraments. Duplicity is for Democrats. .

    December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • jake

      Stop with the nonsense, this obese drug fiend has as much credibility as the North Koreans.

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

      You DO know that Rush makes close to 100 million a year for his radio show right?

      It'd make perfect sense he donates as much to charity, since he probably makes more than Pelosi, Biden, OBama combined.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • RJW

      And I wouldn't want to sit in a pew next to you because you think you can judge who deserves the sacraments and who does not.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • David M. M

      Sure Rush Limbaugh gives to charities but it's also because it's a Tax write off. Plus it always helps for others to see how giving and caring Rush really is. Come on people, wake up!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  5. emintey

    I think Limbaugh made more sense when he was on drugs.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  6. nasty123

    So how is fat wind bag Rush doing today? Wonder if he would be so brave to go to prisons and wash their feet or bless a guy with disfuring disease?

    If you do that then come back and lecture us.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  7. Stuart Weinstein

    I guess Limbaugh doesn't know the difference between "trickle down economics" and "Communism".

    Of course nothing that comes out of that idiot's mouth should surprise anyone.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  8. KC

    I hope rush is not representative of the conservatives. I hope he is but a parody of the fanatics in this country that claim to know god. Pope Francis is a good man. Though I am not catholic, I respect this pope. Rush is a POS. Pure and simple.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  9. jake

    A true Christian is really socialist. The Capitalist is more the demon than a believer in Christ. Read the Bible if you are a Christian, there's is no other conclusion. Unless that is, you're a Christian of convenience, not of faith.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      you believie in fairy tale huh?

      talking snakes huh?

      and i am suppose to take you seriously?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
      • A. Goodwin

        Jesus WAS a socialist.

        Jesus, over turned the money changers tables, he fed the masses and poor; Jesus was the 1st socialist. Consider, "Mark Chapter 10:21-25 21Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” 24The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Further read, Matthew 25:31-46: The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. For those that don’t know this one the key statement is as follows:

        41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life”.

        You can look at these others at your pleasure:
        Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 17:14
        Mark 7:31, 8:22
        John 9:1-41

        As you can see Jesus is not concerned with money, capital or greed...Just people.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
        • Think about it

          Jesus was not against Capitalism. He was against selling a sacrifice, you can't buy your way to heaven. While Jesus did care for the poor he called on people as individuals to do the same, not create a government agency to try and do it. People have turned the Government into their God. In time of need, want or despair they think the Government is the answer. We are losing our sense of community and creating a false god to care for our needs.

          December 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
      • jake

        I believe in neither, I am simply stating what "Christians" claim, to believe in Jesus and the Bible. They however, are Christians when it's convenient, not of faith.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
      • mr sensitive

        You aren't aware that there is a difference between Fairy Tales, parables and historical narratives within the books of the bible?

        December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Think about it

      To be a Christian one need not be a Socialist. It is to the individual to give not the Government to take and give. We have a free will to decide and discern where the need is. To often we treat the symptom and not the cause. Simply giving to others will not end poverty. Many people make a good income but have no resources to give because they do not know how to manage money. The Bible says we will always have the poor. That does not mean we give up on them. Education, Family and Community are the keys to helping others. If you can't feed 100 feed 1 and teach them to feed themselves.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  10. Mike Dalton

    Rash Lardass and his Effluent in Broadcasting Network are firm believers in Rectumology. They claim to love Capitalism, but refuse to actually do any WORK or put their money where their mouths are. Thank goodness we finally have a Pope who lives a Christian life. Tell Rash to keep his fowl odors to himself.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  11. razr

    Rush Limbaugh, please hurry up and get that long sleep you so desperately deserve. We promise to wake you up in a googolplex years if mankind still exist, it'll do us all a wonder of good here on Earth if you take that long sleep. Its not to long of a time for you to just let us be without you, and by the way you'll be much more refreshed when you wake from that long sleep that you will never even know you slept a googolplex years. P.S. Don't call us we'll 'Wake-Up Call You' thx Rush, now go night night .

    December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  12. CT

    Trig's real grand-daddy is Rush Limbaugh.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  13. Fern

    So a blog heading makes it to the front with an oversize 64 point font. Hmm, both CNN and Rush are jumping the shark and telling us to write off cnn as a news source. Later!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  14. Bob Mitchell

    What happened to the infallible Pope thing ?? And who decided that Rush is on some equal footing for opinion with the Pope? This is not TWO sides of a story CNN ! It is not even in the same league with this Pope.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  15. conrad

    Well duh, Rush. Christian principles just like Marxism is all about taking care of your fellow human being. But ... Rush's response really isn't a surprise. It's like Golem clinging desperately to his 'precious' ring.

    I just want to point out how miserable one feels when clinging to their posessions. It's not pretty or happy.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  16. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


    why wont a liberal tell me why rush was wrong?????

    December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • RJW

      The Pope was talking to Catholics. He was reiterating their duty to be charitable as a Catholic. I didn't see where he used his magical Pope authority to take money forcibly from people's bank accounts. So, you're wrong. Really wrong.

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

      One more time. Rush, and you , are wrong because that isn't what the Evangelii Guadium SAYS.
      You premise is flawed. Posting the same lie over and over puts you in the same category as the bloviating liar.

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

      Tell me one thing in life that isn't 'by force'. This very system that we live in is forced upon us at birth (though you may not have noticed, having been born into it, it just seems normal and 'right' to you). Why should anything on earth be 'owned' by anyone? What gave anyone the right to claim diamond or gold mines? Nobody, they were taken by force, stolen from the common good and sold back to us for a very steep price. Why should land be owned? It should rightfully be the common property of human beings to reap the fruits it gives. But the land was stolen from the public often by despots and thugs. The list goes on. Nobody is actually 'free', we are all beholden to a system that we had no hand in creating. It is natural for humans to be nomadic and to live off the land, but now we are trapped in depressing boxes surrounded by asphalt and pollution belching cars and factories, drummed into dull compliance with the 'promise' of mind-numbing video games – entertainment, drinking, etc.. are methods of 'escape' that the masses consume in an effort to forget the drudgery of this system – meanwhile making a few extraordinarly rich. And before you crack the whip and chide me for not having 'worked hard enough' to become uber rich enough to escape by the .01% would seem to have ... my question to you is 'why should I have to work hard to achieve a state of existence that is essentially my birthright?"

      December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Dexter

      Not forcing, maybe just suggesting? If you call your self a Christian and you put the pursuit of wealth ahead of the welfare of your fellow man than you are not following the teachings of christ

      December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  17. pm ohio

    HELLO RUSH! The world's Governments, led by the US, already do control the World's markets and the world supply of money, through the World Bank...I think the GOP is making noise over this, because they are afraid people will realize the real evil isn't some people that look different than us, in a far away country, but the leaders in our own country, who are creating a "have/have not society" of rich and poor.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  18. Steve

    Nothing like whacking the old liberal bees nest with a Limbaugh broom handle now and again...the mere mention of old Rushbo get's them foaming at the mouth. This is "news"? Only CNN would place a windbag radio show host's comments as their headliner.

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

      rush limbaugh

      sarah palin

      or texas

      would of worked as well to get the libs heads exploding

      December 2, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  19. massconn72

    I feel so sorry for that drug addled fool. And I'm not even Catholic.

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

    Well, will you look at that! The right loves to use religion as a political weapon...until religion tells them they are being greedy buggers!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • ry62747

      Very well said...

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

      They should just go ahead and admit they've switched to the church of $

      December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Pound Sand

      'Greedy bugger': see Al Gore, John Kerry, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Nancy Pelosi, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore, etc etc etc

      Your hypocrisy is showing.

      December 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
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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.