Skip to main content

Cross-posted from Bold Faith Type
By John Gehring

Rep. Paul Ryan'€™s Catholic problem isn'€™t going away.

In a pointed letter today, nearly 90 Georgetown University faculty have called him to task for his continued misuse of Catholic social teaching in defending a GOP budget that is increasingly under fire from Catholic bishops, theologians and social justice leaders.

The letter comes just two days before Ryan visits the Catholic campus in Washington to deliver the Whittington Lecture. The signers -- including over a dozen Georgetown Jesuit priests and professors of theology, history and government -- do not object to Ryan speaking on campus, but offer a stinging critique of his distortion of Catholic values.

We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has wisely noted in several letters to Congress --€“ "a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons." Catholic bishops recently wrote that "€œthe House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria."€ In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Senior Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University who spearheaded the letter along with other Georgetown faculty, said: "€œSurvival of the fittest may be okay for Social Darwinists but not for followers of the gospel of compassion and love."€

The Georgetown scholars will also be mailing Ryan some early summer reading – a copy of the Vatican's Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, commissioned by the late Pope John Paul II, so he can brush up on his Church teaching.

Ryan has frequently defended his budget in explicitly Catholic terms and cites the principle of subsidiarity as justification. The letter challenges that political spin as inconsistent with the Catholic social tradition.

While you often appeal to Catholic teaching on "€œsubsidiarity"€ as a rationale for gutting government programs, you are profoundly misreading Church teaching. Subsidiarity is not a free pass to dismantle government programs and abandon the poor to their own devices. This often misused Catholic principle cuts both ways. It calls for solutions to be enacted as close to the level of local communities as possible. But it also demands that higher levels of government provide help -- "€œsubsidium"€-- when communities and local governments face problems beyond their means to address such as economic crises, high unemployment, endemic poverty and hunger. According to Pope Benedict XVI: "Subsidiarity must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa.” Along with this letter, we have included a copy of the Vatican's Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, commissioned by John Paul II, to help deepen your understanding of Catholic social teaching.
The Georgetown pushback comes on the heels of a recent letter to Ryan from prominent theologians, priests, nuns and social justice groups. That group of Catholic leaders --€” including a former high-ranking U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops official, a priest in Rep. Ryan'€™s district and the leadership team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas --€” called on Ryan to "€œreconsider his radical budget proposal and refrain from distorting Church teaching."

Catholic bishops have also sent a flurry of letters to House committee chairman protesting cuts to food stamps and other programs that protect the most vulnerable. Bishops have consistently urged Congress to pass a budget that protects the poor and said the GOP budget proposal "fails to meet these moral criteria."

You have to wonder how long it will take Ryan and other conservative Catholics like House Speaker John Boehner to get the memo. A budget that takes food away from hungry children and asks the most vulnerable to sacrifice even more so that the wealthiest few can have tax breaks they don'€™t need isn't courageous. It'€™s immoral and irresponsible.

The full letter to Rep. Paul Ryan with signatories can be found here.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site