December 2nd, 2013
11:29 AM ET

Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. Deacon Keith

    For those who think Pope Francis is wrong, I beg you to read the gospel.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • MikeOnABike

      I have read it.

      If you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day. If you teach him to fish for himself, he will eat every day.

      The gospel preaches self-sufficiency and capitalism, not the Marxist trash this sorry excuse for a Pope is pushing.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • A. Goodwin

        Jesus eschewed worldly wealth Jesus made it quite clear that rich people must give away all their worldly possessions to enter his kingdom (Mark 10:21, Luke 14:26-33, Luke 18:18-22), he stood for the poor and underprivileged (Luke 12:33), and Jesus and the early apostles practiced communal life sharing all possessions (Luke 3:11, Acts 4:32, 2 Cor 8:13). The same message is repeated in many other places, I've just included a few representative text samples.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • Fr33th1nk3r

        Yes, I am sure if Jesus is real– he would side with a bunch of bigotted, greedy Republicans who equate "helping the poor" to "giving a free ride"....
        When will you GOPers figure it out? Jesus was the first hippie– he wore sandals, walked the earth instead of holding a daytime job, hung around with losers and outcasts, and always favored the poor.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
      • T

        ........boy......you have that FOX fever real bad. I suggest a night of prayer and rereading the GOSPEL. Wherever you saw that GOD and HIS SON are anything but kind to those less fortunate, ill, without power, hungry, or in desperate need........IS NOT THE.................. B-I-B-L-E........................

        December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • Liss

        Did you only ready that line? lol

        December 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
      • Jay

        We could also use the bible to justify slavery. Depends on what your favourite evil is and how you wish to justify it.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
      • LivinginVA

        You've read the Bible and found the "if you give a man a fish..." quote in it? Pray tell, where? Please, give a citation. I was always taught that it was a Chinese proverb.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
        • Jimbo

          Hahahaha, thanks for pointing that out! The "give a man a fish" axiom is NOT from the bible. What a rube!

          December 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  2. Vin

    FYI, Limbaugh is Jewish.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  3. Anna


    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  4. RM1234

    I'm behind the Pope in principle but it's hypocritical given the wealth they have stored at the Vatican and around the world.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  5. Michael B (atheist veteran for peace)

    Anytime anyone says ANYTHING to stick up for the poor, it all becomes an opportunity for rich folks to just cry socialism as if regulating big business whatsoever is a bad thing. There is a very clear difference between regulating business and socialism. The reason our economy almost tanked in 2008 was PARTIALLY thanks to Reagan deregulating big business and banks. Yeah...that was a long time ago, but very little has been done in the meantime to change his policies. Our income inequality as a nation has skyrocketed since Reagan took office and put in place his policies saying do whatever you big businesses and banks because you must know what is best for the country.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


      how was rush wrong??

      December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
      • Fr33th1nk3r

        Evidently– you did not read the post you are replying to....

        December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • Maddy

        Do you EVER read the responses to you? Rush is wrong because his premise is flawed. That's not what the Evangelii said at all. Stop lying.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Gary Wardall

      Right on.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  6. tom

    Rushy Limpbra you pick a bad person to talk smack about. Pope Francis gonna have that.azz .

    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  7. publicdole

    No problem to target Christians Media but the Jewish and Muslim religions are exempt. What crap.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • truth

      Christians?? What christians? Catholicism is a pagan religion period..

      December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  8. DinkyPink

    Rush you are an idiot. The Pope is talking about the world, not your 1st world America. There are poor nations out there Rush. There are greater gaps in rich / poor societies than what you see with your blinders on. Rush do you know what poor is? Do you know what it is like to not have a dime, and still be a good deserving, hard working, god loving human being?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  9. z&hcats

    What a disgrace we have people like Palin & Rush in the US! Neither am I a catholic or christian, but I have a tremendous respect to Pope Francis.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • The Truth Hath No Secrets

      So you respect those that hoard wealth?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  10. steffi

    My God, I never thought I would agree with Rush about anything from angels to Vicodin but I do today. I don't want to believe that socialism is good for anyone...not as an economic realm or a religious doctrine. Speak out Rush and I will attempt to READ this encyclical.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  11. Ross

    In response to counter stream – who is clueless ? Guess you do not know the Communist Party has governed China since 1949 !! Still does. As far the Chinese making safer products – give me a break. Make your way to Walmart to pick up their latest products

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  12. catholicinalabama

    Around here, many Christians wouldn't recognize a Christian who didn't look, act and think just like them

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  13. Yeah but look

    Limbaugh should not have a headline prior to his decease. He is just another opinion man. It should not shock or amaze anyone that he has an opinion.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  14. Todd

    Front Page news eh CNN?

    Now the evangelical fundamentalists already don't like the Catholics. Now with the extra press we are just going to put a lot of Catholics in danger now.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  15. WhereIsPalin

    So now "god" is taking on the Vatican.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  16. Jim

    No one has proven he's right either. Please don't tell me you believe anything Rush says.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  17. Tim

    Well – guess Rush is taking about Paul Ryan and John Boehner. They are both practicing Catholics. Good grief is Rush trying to assure that only old, white WASP's are allowed in the GOP? That isn't going to win any elections. There are more Catholics than all the other Christian denominations combined. Reminds me when someone asked if I was Christian. I told them I was Catholic. The look on their face – Priceless.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Lemon Talks

      Evangelii Gaudium talks about forcing people to do charity.


      explain how rush was wrong??

      December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
      • mary

        How many times do you have to be told that you are wrong? Apparently you are not reading your replies; just blindly posting this same garbage on every page. GO AWAY!!

        December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • angus

      Just because he is the Pope doesnt make him right....was Urban II correct to start the Crusades? Was Leo correct in excommunicating Martin Luther? These are all decisions made by PEOPLE....who as we know all make mistakes.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • Tim

        My wife is Lutheran. I mostly attend Lutheran services now (mainly because the priest at my church is 85 years old and speaks with such a think brogue that I can't understand him). I went to Jesuit school where they readily admit to the errors committed by the Church. At one time after the fall of the Holy Roman Empire (started by Charlemagne), there were three popes that all excommunicated each other. It run by humans and is therefore not infallible. The Jesuit's taught me that in high school The pope is a Jesuit – hence the vow of poverty.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  18. Billie

    Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant, and Sarah Palin even more so. Why give tnem attention?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • qanerd

      Right. With 15 million listeners he's irrelevant. He may at times be fulla poo, but irrelevant he is most assuredly not.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  19. Roybot

    Religion has always been a tool used to manipulate people. Now we have the worlds 2 biggest manipulators, the Pope and Obama!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  20. truth

    God looks upon Catholicism and says: what is this? I never established this. It is man-made.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      I look on God and say "What is this? There's no such thing. It's man-made."

      December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169
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.