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. mbane

    You can't be Christian and Republican. The two ideologies do not mix.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      if majick men in the sky a fairy tale?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Norm

      Not true at all. Jesus advocated for the poor, but he never said that big government programs were the way to get it done. He walked amongst the people and did it himself and he encouraged others to do the same. But he never FORCED them. That's why there are so many faith based charities and why the GOP supports them. Dems on the other hand are all about big gov't programs and can't fall over each other fast enough to separate church and state. For them its all about power and enslaving the people to the govn't.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
      • A. Goodwin

        Big government might not be efficient but its supposed to be NOT FOR PROFIT, which is a HUGE difference.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
      • tlm

        As opposed to enslaving people to the company and paying slave wages so that people have to supplement with food stamps. But I guess you are not into people being able to feed their children.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  2. Outrage 5 Days Later

    Statement made: November 27. Story with big headline: December 5. Where was the outrage when it was said? Story held to manufacture outrage 5 days later? Damn, should've worked in media– invent the news! What else happened 11/27 that is a headline today???

    December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Outrage 5 Days Later

      (story 12/2)

      December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  3. Michael Carl

    Capitalists are nothing but money grubbers. You know Rush, there are more of us Marxists/socialists out here then you think. There will be another Revolution of the Proletariat..

    December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  4. Carol

    Why do people just expect everything has to be black or white, one has to be a libral, a democrat, a catholic, or evangelist?? Can it be possible to dabble in all: take what fits and leave the rest? The world and all its values have changed over the course of time, as do we with our ways of life. Change is good and needed. He is a Pope for our today! You wanted progress and your getting it, you just can't have it part way. It is a changing world, if you don't like the ride, get off the road...

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

    I sure hope one day Rush Limbaugh does not lose everything he has and find himself in poverty. Me thinks if the shoe was on the other foot, he may change his mind.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  6. haaa

    It's not so much a critique of capitalism, as it is of excess. It also directs criticism at "trickle down economics", which may be Rush's definition of capitalism, but is, in fact, not THE definition of capitalism. The views expressed by the Pope are what you find in the teachings of Jesus. Thus, they are what you hear from most of Christianity, with the exception of a few churches who make it a central message of their faith to celebrate financial success. I find it a bit sickening how some commentators qualify charity to the poor as a negative. It's quite disgusting. Rush and others should re-read their bibles, and take note of what Jesus said about the poor. No one is excusing laziness. However, to take food, clothing and shelter from the poorest and most vulnerable members of society, in order to give another million dollars to an existing millionaire/billionaire, for example, is the exact opposite of what Jesus preached. Right or wrong. This is not a Political issue at all. It's a matter of faith and scripture. Rush, due to his misunderstanding of Capitalism, Marxism and Christianity, has made it one.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  7. andrew

    The depths of Limbaugh's arrogance and smug never cease to amaze. For a doctor-shopping drug addict like Limbaugh to think he can make Pope Francis heel to his warped view of life is pathetic to the point of sickening.
    The fifteen million listeners of Rush Limbaugh hold not one virtue between them. "Political Christians" raised the ire of Jesus as none other. Limbaugh should repent immediately and keep his nasty trap shut. The advertisers who front the bigot should drop him like a radioactive rock. Rush Limbaugh deserves to stand the coming firestorm of his own doing.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Maddy

      He is a bloviating pig, and the fact that 15 million people worship at his altar slavishly alarms me.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  8. Average Joe

    I've never respected Limbaugh, and his current comments don't change the fact. He's a dropout, pill-popping, racist, who can't handle marriage and appeals to the lowest common denominator. That he's wealthy and famous is merely a poor reflection of American cultural values. (Look at how the media pushes Miley Cyrus on us.)

    December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  9. metintodd

    Why does anyone give a damn what Rush Limbaugh has to say?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  10. Kristin

    Pope Francis asks, "Who is Rush Limbaugh?"

    December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • chris

      Even Jesus would ask, "Who the hell is Rush Limbaugh?" Because, you know of course, Jesus was a rich man preaching about the wonders of money.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  11. MG Mead

    It does not bode well for the future of America that the number of listeners to such a narrow, shallow minded, arrogant self-important dim-wit as Rush Limbaugh that his popularity garners enough advertisements to pay for the air time. The dumbing-down of America marches on. This American disgustedly refuses to listen to the garbage. It is worrisome that anybody listens to it.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  12. Lemon Talks


    December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  13. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  14. Mark

    Oh I love it when Rush does this. We should all play along! I'll start: "Rush is a Satanist for speaking ill of the Pope". Okay someone else add!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


      how was he rush wrong?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
      • DON

        Another Rush Limbaugh minion, lunatics

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

      Its time that Rush proclaims himself the official "DEVIL"

      December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain

    Rush is calling Jesus a Marxist, too. So here's the question: Will the right-wing evangelicals finally stand up to this drug-addicted, lying, fat windbag or not?

    Balls in your court ...

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


      December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  16. Katy J

    I'm starting to like the Pope more and more.

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

    Why is anything Rush Limbaugh says front page news? There are so many other stories and issues that are more relevant in this world than the opinions of a conservative talk show host. I don't consider him a subject matter expert in anything but his own opinions, which by the way are very skewed and do not contribute to an intelligent conversation.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • doncampbell101

      That's OK no one cares what you say either.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  18. Counter_stream

    Pope is clueless. Just look at the most recent example: China. Capitalism has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. If the pope is right, China would have been a thriving place during communism. I do agree that some amount of regulations are needed, but capitalism is what makes better products, safer products, cheaper products. The whole idea of capitalism is incentives, which drives people to make better products. Communism tried the same thing but without incentives, we all know what happen to it.

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

      You've missed the point entirely. It isn't the Pope's job to promote self gain.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • steve

      china has lifted millions out of poverty? every economic model is now outdated including capitalism. with a dow jones hovering at 16000 points (the highest in history) jobs are still not fruitful,millions of americans still struggle daily to pay bills,find work,be able to eat or put a roof over their head. china is not much different look outside the hong kongs and beijings and you will still see hundreds of millions still living in poverty. a select few are able in china to participate in a capitalistic market usually those most loyal to the communist party. look at wall st same thing the people who participate most are usually the ones throwing tons of money at whatever political party is in power. people in general need to pull their collective heads out of the sand both parties can continue to do what they want if we keep calling ourselves republicans and democrats instead of americans!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • RonL

      I don't understand how you took what the Pope said as anti-Capitalist. If you clear your mind and reread it you will see he doesn't have a problem with capitalism he has a problem with those that make thousands of dollars more than they need to live comfortably, while allowing millions of others in the company to struggle. Many of the hugely successful companies that make profits of hundreds of millions of dollars a year could have afforded to raise their workers salaries a mere $1.00 or two over the past 20 -30 years!! You want to see an economy be stagnant, make sure over 50% of the population doesn't earn enough to have even $100 a month to save!! It's about fairness not about redistribution. Unfortunately most of these companies are so GREEDY the only way the minimum wage will rise is if the government gets involved.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  19. edgybutsoft

    IF the Pope is preaching "pure Marxism" then Limbaugh is preaching "pure B.S." I am not Catholic and yet I am gratified to see someone, in a position of power, calling out the wealthy.

    `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. It cannot be clearer than that and so this comment deeply annoys the 'haves' who have sooo much more than the 'have nots' and the 'never wills'...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  20. JayDavid

    Rush is off his meds again...or maybe he's on his "meds" again.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:22 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.