Paul Ryan accuses President Obama of “sowing social unrest and class resentment.” The House Budget Committee chairman says the president is “preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment.”
Paul Ryan accuses Elizabeth Warren of engaging in class warfare. The House Budget Committee chairman says the Massachusetts US Senate candidate is guilty of engaging in the “fatal conceit of liberalism.”
But what about the Catholic Church, which has taken a far more radical position on economic issues than Obama or Warren? What does the House Budget Committee chairman, a self-described “good Catholic,” do then?
If you’re Paul Ryan, you don’t decry the church for engaging in class warfare. Instead, you spin an interpretation of the church’s latest pronouncements that bears scant resemblance to what’s been written—but that just happens to favor your political interests.
Ryan says: “The preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenants [sic] of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life, help people get out of poverty out onto life of independence.”
That worked for a while, as Ryan made the rounds of Washington talk shows, and as he spoke out of both sides of his mouth on trips home to a district that is home to dozens of Catholic churches and religious institutions.
But now he’s up against the Jesuits.
Close to ninety professors at Georgetown, the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, where Ryan will today deliver a major lecture, welcomed the congressman in a letter.
“However,” the professors added, “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 US 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 ‘the 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. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.”