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. olvera32066

    since the Pope can't say it, I will......EFFFFFFFFFFFF !! limbaugh

    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  2. FrankinSD

    Looks like Rush is off his meds again (or back on them, perhaps?)

    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  3. greg

    Oxy doctor, is there an oxy doctor anywhere? i settle for vicos. calling oxy doctor. drug addict hippocrit,

    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  4. TG

    But of course! Everyone knows Jesus was a communist! Seriously, I have been waiting for this pope for a long time. We know he's doing something right if he's got Rush Limbaugh all up in arms. Rush, go take a pill and have a nice nap. Holy Father-keep up the good work! I'll be praying for you every day.

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

      The guy is almost enough to make a Catholic out of a Unitarian.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  5. Juan Zaldivar

    Well I was wondering who in the USA will comment on the pope´s statement , and I was not dissapointment. Freaking rush limbaugh. Jesus was a socialist.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  6. kormathaw

    Christianity should and does proclaim in the belief that you should give to the needy of your own wealth. It also proclaims that giving of someone else's wealth is a sin on par with murder.
    I am not a liberal because I do not outsource my charity. I believe that taking of other people's hard earned labor is better known as theft and slavery.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Ever paid taxes....?

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

        Of course I pay taxes. "I render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's". I follow the law as any good citizen should. This does not mean I vote for increases in taxes to rob my neighbor, and claim it as moral superiority, as if it was my money to give. I give money to the needy from my own labors, from my own coffers.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Casual Observer

      You clearly have no idea what scripture has to say about wealth and the poor. You just throw out assertions and hope people have read as little as you.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
      • kormathaw

        I believe in choosing to be a servant, to be a slave to my neighbors as a reflection of God's love. I do not however believe in government mandated slavery. Forcing a Dr to care for a patient without compensation, is slavery. A Dr who VOLUNTEERS to care for the needy out of the goodness of their heart, is true love.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
        • Casual Observer

          Your view is fine, but it's not biblical. Jesus held the opinion that most of the rich probably don't deserve what they have (e.g. it's harder for them to get to heaven than it is for a camel to get through a needle's eye). In other words, it isn't even theirs. So while Jesus did not outline his plan for government, he didn't argue at any point that the rich deserve their money in any way whatsoever. And it's easy to see why. Most of today's VERY rich - those with the most influence and the least connection with the rest of us - are wholly undeserving of their amount of wealth, or the power that goes with it.

          December 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Cervantes

      I am a pagan/Odinist so could care less what Rush or the Pope says.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  7. Ian

    Limpdic pain is coming...

    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  8. Tutuvabene

    And the Pope's response is: Rush is preaching pure BS to up his ratings, but we love him anyway.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  9. MartinAmerica

    All it takes is one disagreement from a prominent conservative and suddenly the left finds the Catholic Church beyond reproach. Hilarious. We'll keep it in mind the next time you're making fun of priests or pro-life Americans.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Who says we find the Catholic church beyond reproach, just because we don't approve of what Rush Limbaugh says? Why are GOPers like yourself unable to see things in any way other than black or white?

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

        So then Rush can't disagree with the Pope on economics without it becoming a front page CNN news story with 3,000 comments. A week ago, no less. Who is exploiting (freaking out over) these comments? Maybe 30 minutes worth of 15 hours a week of opinion commentary? What I see is: Prominent conservative disagrees with religious figure. Low rated news network gleefully uses comments to troll for click dollars from viewership who probably very rarely cares what either believes on any subject.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Rita Geller

      The Catholic Church is the only one that has the right to be called Pro-Life. The rest of you are pro-birth because you don't give a damn about the children once they leave the womb. I've got a great idea. Why don't you go to an abortion clinic and offer the mothers a deal that you would support and raise their children until they turn 18 in exchange for them not having an abortion.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  10. sumtingwong


    December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  11. davelja1

    Limbaugh is an idiot, and I'm by no means left nor am I right. I am a middle-of-the-road American who thinks for himself. So long as either right or left relies on talking heads like him to set a position, this country is going nowhere.

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

      And yet he makes more money in a week than you will make in your life.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  12. Liss

    If Jesus was a "conservative" US republican he would have kept his bucket of endless fish, turned it into a business, and then donated a mere fraction of his profits to helping the poor.
    Some people worship a god, some people worship money.

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

      Weren't alot of Jesus's disciples fishermen? You know.... folks that caught fish, fed some to their family, sold the rest to other families, and kept the profits for themselves?

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

      Jesus would have given everything he had to the poor and would have encouraged others to do the same, but he would not have robbed from the rich to give to the poor. He believed this to be theft: one of the big 10.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
      • Fr33th1nk3r

        You pay taxes. Your credibility is smashed, KOMA-THAW or whatever.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • kormathaw

          That was my point sir. Outsourcing your charity through taxing the rich is not biblical. casting a vote to have someone rob your neighbor does not count as giving.

          December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  13. rabbitcommarogerindyreader

    As with any number of hundreds of previous occurrences, knowing Rushbaugh is against it makes me all the happier to support it. I'm not Catholic, but this particular pope seems to have his head on straight and to actually be walking the talk on serving those less fortunate and trying to uplift rather than to divide and discriminate. No wonder he makes the reactionary neocons and 'tarditional values' bunch seethe.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  14. David

    Why does a legitimate news organization like CNN give credence to the lunatic ramblings of Rush Limbaugh by giving them headline status on its webpage? And by the way, socially conservative, evangelical Christians should spend some time re-reading the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament.

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

      I have read and re-read it, and nowhere do I find it condoning robbing the rich to feed the poor. Everything is a personal choice, personal ownership. Jesus never forced people to do what was right at government gunpoint. That was the Messiah the Jewish church was expecting, but not what it got. Instead, he encouraged the rich man to give up everything and follow him. But when the rich man couldn't, Jesus let him go.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
      • Casual Observer

        But those rich people were not deserving in the eyes of Jesus, and were not allowed in the Kingdom of Heaven.

        December 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Cervantes

      If you want lunatic, listen to Joe Biden.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  15. schung

    Does he know that Marxism borrows ideas from the Bible? Just compare the doctrine what the two Jews preaches.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  16. oldbones24

    "The love, desire, and pursuit of money is a root to all evil." I guess we all see what side Rush is on.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • JazzDrummer7

      Doesn't he also love and desire Oxycontin, Viagra and young boys in the Dominican?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  17. GeoDenn

    `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." So many ways to interpret this quote. I read it as one who has been fortunate in their lifetime much is expected. This doesn't mean tax me.....It means share your wealth through charity, helping others you know are struggling, bring relief to the suffering. Do good with your fortune and not be selfish. Paying more to the government for them to appropriate is not wise.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  18. blue079

    As if Limbaugh knows anything about Catholicism, Christianity or what it's like to act like one.

    The ONLY reason he says anything about anyone is if their ideas and opinions somehow, even remotely, contrast with the Republican/Tea Party agendas.

    He is nothing but a joke. Why is this even news? Must be a slow day.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  19. The Truth Hath No Secrets

    "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.

    Practice what you preach! What is the worth of the vatican bank and why is it secret? Why doesn't the Catholic church sell some of it's trinkets/paintings/statues/properties, etc. to help the poor? Why doesn't the Catholic church bend over as much to help the less fortunate as it does to build foot baths for ungrateful heretics?!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Patrick Costello

      The catholic church is the largest charitable orginization in the world thanks to its members. They could sell all thier art work and feed the poor for maybe a month. Preserve the art work for the world to see. Using your logic all musuems should selll thier art work to feef the poor. You know nothing of catholic charities all over the world who clothe and feed the poor, Provide shelter clothing and furniture for rhe needy. Help pay rent for those in trouble. Provide psychological counseling for free to those who need it. The countless homeless shelters, battered womans shelters it operates. Churches who provide 3 meals a day, You see the beauty of an historical place like the Vatican, preserving history in its art work amd library but are unaware of the services it provides behind the scenes away from the eyes of the public.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  20. Aurthor

    Look at the pope and look at rush's picture. Looks like Rush has been doing drugs too long it has not only messed him up mentally but look at that face. The pope looks like he is in much better shape than Rush. I would have to also suspect cholesterol has done cell damage to Rush's face as well.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Jesse Whitman


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

      Yup! Rush likes to keep a few poor people around to help score drugs.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:41 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.