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. lol??

    Hope ol' Rush has body guards. The feeding frenzy is ON!

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

    Rush, Rush, Rush you have truly lost it. You are a Christian in name only. The rest of the world hears the Pope teaching love, acceptance, compassion, and helping those less fortunate.

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

      Sure. But is he saying that you should do it yourself or that the government should?

      Yourself = conservative
      Government = liberal

      Pretty simple really

      December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
      • tlm

        Whether it comes from yourself or a hand from the government...what is the difference? We are a nation that helps each other out, whether individually or by government. You try and summarize what you think a conservative and/or a liberal are but we can be both. People like you are the reason this country is polarized. Pretty simple really!

        December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  3. Oz

    "The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."
    This smacks the GOP right in the Kisser! They're too caught up in their own greed to see the light of day. Yeah, I'd be Real Proud to have Limbaugh as my spokesman (NOT)!!!

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

    Rush is not wrong. What the Pope is professing is a form of Marxism. But I think we are missing the point. The pontiff's objective in issuing the Evangelii was to exhort the church to do more for the poor, and depend less on capitalist societies to carry the burden. I am a fan of the Pope, even though I am not catholic. I have never read anything that would suggest a political agenda for his actions or statements. His objectives have always been related to projecting the need for people to step up and do more for those who have less. At its root, Marxism was intended to be a political system for dealing with the “haves” and the “have nots” in a society. The church also teaches a similar system and there are some parallels, and pointed out by Mr. Limbaugh. But I doubt the pontiff is a Marxist at heart. I think he is a Christian intent on doing the right thing. Perhaps Marxists had a similar intent. They certainly made a mess of their implementation strategy.

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

      Rush doesn't know what Narxism is. And neither do you.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  5. Mike

    Rush, when engaging your mouth, it would be helpful to engage your pea sized brain as well. I find it ironic that you have lashed out at a person who seems to genuinely be trying to mend fences within his religion and you have found it within your realm of misguided logic to call him a "Marxists". Poor you!!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  6. joejeffrey

    Yeah, that Pope sure is evil to be propounding sich insidious notions as the idea that like any ideology capitalism needs to be balanced by other considerations, that acting in one's own interest to the exclusion of all moral and basic decency considerations is not always the right thing to do, and that people ought to be treated decently. Rush, like his worshippers, is unable to have two ideas in his head simultaneously. So he, and they, just can't grasp that captalism is the best economic system yet developed BUT that it needs some controls.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  7. cnn@bin.sh

    Rush Limbaugh digs his hole of irrelevance a little deeper.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Matthew 25:40: "And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

    So I guess Jesus was a Marxist, too, eh, Rush?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  9. DON

    Just like the Right-wingers say about Obama or anybody who wants to help people. Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the ignorant and lunatic base of the Republican party.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Lemon Talks


      December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
      • Dan Z.

        He isn't even remotely entertaining.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  10. Josh

    There are dangers both in unregulated capitalism and in uncheck government socialism. Both will eventually fail. Problem is people are getting more and more romanced by the idea of socialism... Seems to happen every once in a while. Is there a wealth disparity in the world? Yes. Is the solution to give the Governments more control over it? Not really. Why? Because then they just become the abusers. We've seem that over and over again. Sounds good on paper, but people forget that governments are also controlled by humans and are just as susceptible to abuse as a corporation. Don't believe me? Please, Americans, as a so called "Poster-child of representative government" tell me how many of you believe your government is properly running and representing you... Now how many of you would like them to be in complete control of your finances?... I rest my case. No government should ever control it's citizen's finances. Any government that tries to convince you it is responsible enough to should worry you.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  11. Wow

    Must be a side-effect of taking too much pain killers....

    December 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  12. Tom

    The Pope is preaching the precepts of the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus.

    Who cares if someone calls this Marxism - just indicates ignorance about Marxism, the Bible and Jesus.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  13. D. K. Main

    Did Mr. Burke's editor excise the paragraph where he mentioned that Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation states that all governments have the duty to provide their people– which, doubtless, would include whatever South Americans, inter alia, just snuck across the border, this morning– with education, health care and jobs? A lack of server capacity at Time-Warner, no doubt....

    December 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  14. Lemon Talks


    December 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  15. joshua owen

    The pope isn't so far off. History is said to repeat itself, and it does quite often, economic division has caused many untoppable countries and republics to fall. To say there isn't economic disparity in the world and more important to me the US is crazy. That is why our government puts band-aids on the issues to make the masses forget. There will coke a time where they do not forget, and chaos will ensue. When the wealth becomes the predominant problem, either the government must change or the people will change it, it's history. Right now our politicians are smarter then the people, they solve no problems, so that the people have to many issues to sift through, thus dividing us.

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

    I bet he doesn't even know what Marxism is. He's a die=hard conservative.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.



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

        When has the Catholic Church not forced people to do things they didn't want to do?

        Saying that to be a good follower of the christian faith means you should give to the poor (thus doing something you don't want to do) falls in line with the Church's M.O., and this has been true for thousands of years.

        By the way, the Pope saying trickle-down economics "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power", I believe 100%. The rich became rich by getting money and keeping it. If you give tax incentives to the rich alone, most of those rich people will keep it. Trickle-down DOESN'T WORK! And it never has, either.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  17. Dee

    Better a Marxist than a big fat greedy pig! At least our Pope cares about the people. Limbaugh only cares about his pocketbook and gut.

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


    December 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  19. Rush Limpburger

    What did that really accomplish calling the pope a Marxist? All it did was stir up a bunch of feeble minded people to not like the pope. The pope's primary mission is spiritual not political.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  20. BeverlyNC

    Actually the People is reintroducing the concept of morality, compassion, and actually living your stated beliefs. Of course Republicans feel threatened. They have no values, stomp on and degrade the poor, try to keep all Americans from having access to healthcare, want to kill programs like Social Security and Medicare who are the very foundation of letting our senior live their retirement in dignity.
    The Pope is showing the American People the Republican environment of hate, lies, corporations over people, and not a single action to help the American People and particularly persecuting the poor is NOT Christian, NOT human, and totally hypocrisy.
    Jesus was poor, lived among the poor, the sick, the outcasts and devoted his life to treating all people with dignity, compassion and hope. He railed against the rich moneychangers who cheated the People inside the Temple (i.e. today's Republicans).
    Sorry the solid truth of the Pope terrifies the Republican Party and the disgusting voice of hate, Limbaugh,. Maybe they should actually do their job and do work for the People and stop spreading hate and trying to hurt the poor, the sick, and anyone they judge as not as valuable as they are. Why people vote this characterless, valueless, betrayers of our nation and its most basic values into office is baffling? People voting against their own belief system and values because Republicans spread fear, lies, and offer not a single solution for anything they want to destroy. Vote them all out in 2014.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:19 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.