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. nnc


    December 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  2. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  3. Lemon Talks

    rush limbaugh is top news because he brings ratings.

    he has 15 million listeners every day.

    CNN has 300,000 viewers a day.

    clearly rush is a power house

    December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • A. Goodwin

      Yet you are here.......You love CNN and you know it.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  4. Denis O'Sullivan

    No doubt there are many American leaders of history who would make the Rush "Marxist" list. Including some Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt who pushed anti-trust laws and promoted national parks. Even Adam Smith recognized the need to put limits on the market and business leadership.

    I guess the Limbaugh version of America would not come with public schools, roads or health care included. Rush demonstrates himself to be the extremist in his rants.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Rebbe Bupkis

      Don't forget Rabbi Joshua ben Joseph, whom the Pope is basing much of his commie agenda upon (i.e, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, etc.) So, why is Rush still in the news?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
  5. lol??

    The Marxists gave you 11,000 pages of regs to read before you get serviced in the ER. Hopefully yer dead before you finish and then you won't need any care.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  6. Tom

    I blame CNN for dignifying Mr. Limbaugh's comments by putting them on the site. It is clear that he is not relevant in the world or the US for that matter. The Pope appears to be a man of action which can certainly not be said of Rush or the Republican party.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  7. jake

    The world will be better off when the likes of psychopaths like this fat whale are gone.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  8. rick

    Seriously? Top billing? As if this wind bag is worthy of anything more than a phart in the wind... way to go CNN. Talk about TRASH tv ??

    Can we move on to something NEWSWORTHY ???

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

      When Rush gets top billing on CNN it's time to look for another news outlet.

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

    Rush is mad because the Pope is making sense, and people of all different faiths are paying attention. ESPECIALLY us liberals. I'm not religious, but he's the first Pope in my lifetime who has made any sense on social and economic issues.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  10. Ricky

    Don't let Rush read what the New Testament says about taking care of the poor and avoiding the idolatry of money. He will label the bible as a Marxist book. LOL.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  11. Theseus

    If you've never read the Communist Manifesto then shut your fat jowled pig mouth. The only downfall of socialism is that people don't want to be forced to support others they don't know. Capitalism isn't some virtuous principle, it's the love of personal wealth and greed. American's are simply too ignorant and patriotic to question their own ways. Do you pay taxes that go towards services for others like roads and education? Well.... that's socialism, and America is full of it!

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

      Capitalism has led to the greatest economic opportunity and standard of living in the world. The Pope needs to tend to his flock and lay of of economics. Limbaugh is right here.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  12. Loathstheright

    Jesus = Marxism......today's conservative Christians are anything but followers of christ...more like the anti-christ is what they worship.

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

      "I like your Christ, but I don't like your Christians.... they are so unlike Christ".


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

      Jesus preached voluntary giving, not compulsory, that's the key and most important difference.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  13. Terry

    Is this POPE the Anti – Christ??? Could be. With this type of preaching he could easily get a large percentage of the world behind him, then, "LOOKOUT".

    December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  14. umdlotus

    WHY are you plastering Rush Limbaugh as headline news? No one cares about this obese drug addict. Leave him OUT of the news, or he'll NEVER GO AWAY.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  15. I was just thinking..

    Why would (or does) anyone listen to this pus-gut hot air bag? He has to say things like this to keep his job. He says crap like this to keep his fat cat life style and keeps that pie hole of his full of cake. Oh, and we can not forget the vigira, and pain killers.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  16. mbane

    Republicans can't be Christians. The two ideologies do not mix.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      They can. It's hard on everyone. Harder for the ones trying to pass through the eye of a needle & those who don't see The Father in people different than them.

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

    My question, rhetorical I realize, is why are the comments of a blowhard sensationalist radio commentator considered to be headline material on the 'Cable News Network'. Mr. Limbaugh can be included with Miley Cyrus and her ilk who are so addicted to "fame" (however that is defined today) that he just vomits noxious words/actions to attract attention. Of course the other side of the coin is that CNN just eats it up, one begets the other in a big circle I suppose.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  18. CK

    The real question is why Rush is getting the front page. The man farts and eats tacos, and suddenly we have headlines. He's kind of like Freddy Krueger; if you forget about him, he just goes away.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  19. 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 statement smacks the GOPers right in the Kisser! They're much too "caught-up" in their Greedy Mindset's to see the light of day. Yeah, I'd be Real Proud to have Limbaugh as my spokesman, NOT!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  20. Lemon Talks

    Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


    the funny thing is not one liberal who is bashing rush has explained if he was right or wrong about what he said?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:24 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.