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. MaryM

    Hahahaha, that’s right Rush and your followers the repubs, alienate the Catholics now. What fools you Repubs are to follow Rush the drug addict

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

      Be nice now, MaryM. I am sure he is a recovering drug addict.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Tim

      He's alienated Boehner and Ryan who are both practicing Catholics.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  2. John Anthony

    I thought we were close to getting rid of that arrogant fatso. Thanks to CNN, the new generations will read his name on CNN.com and wonder who he is. CNN is apparently the only one along with the Tea Party who still listens to that fatso.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  3. George Marshall

    Rush Bimbo the ultimate blowhard.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |

    First, the Pope's ideology are the one of a Liberal, nothing new. . The Vatican might have power in Italy, but as far as here politics and religion don't mix well. Calling the Pope a Marxist is extreme. Calling him a Liberal to Socialist I can see it. We have lots of Liberal/Socialist puppets running wild in the USA that thinks the government is the answer for everything.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  5. Anna


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

      Bite me, Anna.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  6. Rogue351

    ANYONE, who does not see things the way Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity sees things are either a communist, Marxist. Or that's what they want you to believe. If Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity convince enough people they are the only true media source they will have control. Regardless if the information they hand out is true. As long as they can make your believe it is true that is good enough. Religion and morals have proven to be a problem for Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity because churches, nor god himself believes as they want you to believe. So the next logical step if to start calling out religion at the root. Next thing we will hear is Beck going after the leader of the LDS faith just to stay in lock step with the Tea Party Plan.

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

      You hit the trifecta of stupidity with those three.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |

      Hypocrite athiest!

      December 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  7. Ian Emdee

    Fox News' Stuart Varney Quote........I go to church to save my soul......EndQuote

    Here's some unsolicited advice Mr. Varney: (For Christians) it is not "going to church" that saves one's soul. Rather, it is (accepting) living as Jesus Christ instructed. This is exactly what the new Pope is reiterating.

    You and Limbaugh would, no doubt, criticize Jesus Christ if he walked among us today and along similar lines.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |

      I wouldn't doubt the Vatican and its followers along with most other religions will not see him as Jesus, if he walked the earth. Most of the people including governments world wide will call him a lunitic and terrorists. Atheists, they will sue Jesus for letting them feel sick, convulsions, vomiting, headaches, and psycological imperements. Hint, the Ground Zero beam shaped like a cross that was erected there.

      December 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  8. Ron S

    Rush is an entertainer – he gets paid millions of dollars a year to entertain those who wants to be entertained. His job is to make the headlines. Rush is in the show business – he doesn't represent anyone. Why do people get upset with him when he talks trash.

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

      I recent Republican surveys, he is considered a top party spokesperson.

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

        Boo hoo, those surveys are fixed just like the left wing surveys are fixed.

        December 2, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
        • Peter


          How did "the libs" fix a survey done at the last C-PAC meeting!

          December 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  9. lol??

    Banana republic.
    Sir, would you like a left banana or a right banana??

    December 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  10. jellylee20202

    Why do we even care what this fat B says? Is there no other news worthy of being the headline today than what this blabber mouth said?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  11. Don

    Rush never grew those brain cells back. Take 10 OXYS and call me next year

    December 2, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  12. Preston Lucas

    CNN will never miss an opportunity to try and "expose" Rush.... What they don't get is that a sincere conservative will ALWAYS default to principles of conservatism.... It has nothing to do with being "crazy", "extreme", "radical".....

    But who am I kidding, nowadays, finding a "principled" person is hard enough to begin with....

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

      Sounds to me like he is just a consistent idiot.

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

      ...and now I wonder what Rush would have said if Jesus were walking the Earth nowadays. He'd very well be calling for him to be crucified. Sad, sad.

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

      A true conservative would stick to conservative ideals. We are talking about Rush Limbaugh, whose guiding ideal is higher ratings. He isn't conservative, he is a drug using entertainer who does a great job at frightening and then reassuring a certain segment of the population. Or we are talking about the Pope, who isn't part of american politics and thus it would be hard to apply our labels to him. As the pope, you would expect him to be conservative, but he is european, and the most conservative european is still a leftist by american ideal. On top of that, he is turning out to be a fairly liberal pope. So, references to "true conservatives" aren't relevant to this article.

      Granted, Rush says he is conservative, and I guess if you believe him on that one, well, remember not to eat the crayons or paste.

      December 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  13. Carol

    Since when is Rush Limbaugh an expert on Catholicism and why would the Catholic church be concerned with the opinion of a drug addict?

    December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  14. Dale

    Amazingly this doesn't appear on the Fox News website at all. Imagine that!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  15. MartinAmerica

    Do a google search for "Bleeding Heart Tightwads" by liberal NY Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof. Read which ideology is REALLY the most personally charitable.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  16. truth

    Catholicism is earth-established and man-made religion.
    God looks upon Catholicism and says: i never established this.

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

      Religion is earth-established and man-made concept.
      Atheists look upon religious people and say: Seriously?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Randy

      I am a non-believer but let me ask you. Why do you claim to know something that you could not possibly know? What special information do you have that I do not?

      December 2, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  17. NCIndependent

    "Sad" and "unbelievable" describes you, Rush, to a tee!

    December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  18. Paulie

    More proof Rush Limbaugh is a complete doofus. This is the type of Pope the church desperately needs

    Seriously, Honey Boo Boo has to have a higher IQ

    December 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  19. Dennis

    Which puts Rush squarely on the side of Satan himself.

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


      December 2, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  20. Maria Carvalho

    Rush is an ignorant @$$. That misogynist, racist repulsive drug addict should not even mention the Pope's name.

    December 2, 2013 at 3:39 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.