A couple dozen Catholic social justice types who know better than Paul Ryan have recently put out a statement against his budget stating that it totally hates the poor: "Catholic Leaders to Rep. Paul Ryan: Stop Distorting Church Teaching to Justify Immoral Budget." Well, ok, they mainly disagreed with his claim that his budget is supported by Catholic social thought. But he does totally hate the poor and wants them to eat dog food—and not even the grain-free kind where deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
I'm talking Alpo!
I'm so moved by their rush to defend the Church against Paul Ryan's alleged misuse of the idea of subsidiarity. The leaders' theological argument could be spot-on, but when discussing poverty and prosperity, I try to stick with economics, not theology, as a framework.
I was finally moved (read: annoyed enough) to post this because of the implications of their condescending response to Ryan's statements on Church teaching and his budget on CBN. I would never say that these leaders aren't dedicating their lives to the betterment of the poor (I'm sure they all do some kind of service for the changes they're advocating), but I would say that their willingness to render unto Caesar a greater share of the duties that are better left to the Church is very disturbing. Hence the this post's harsh title.
First, some comments from a Catholic opposed to Ryan's budget:
“If Rep. Ryan thinks a budget that takes food and healthcare away from millions of vulnerable people upholds Catholic values, then he also probably believes Jesus was a Tea Partier who lectured the poor to stop being so lazy and work harder,” said John Gehring, Catholic Outreach Coordinator at Faith in Public Life.
Well, that explains the Ryan budget! He believes Jesus is a Tea Partier. Oh, I know that's not what Gehring meant. He just meant that Paul Ryan hates the poor—or is too stupid to realize his plan will make everyone poorer—and is disingenuously using Church teaching for cover. That's much more charitable.
N.B.: Jesus is actually a Marxist who believes the state's monopoly on force is best used promoting policies that will slow growth and make us all poorer.
“This budget turns centuries of Catholic social teaching on its head. These Catholic leaders and many Catholics in the pews are tired of faith being misused to bless an immoral agenda.”
Wasn't there a century or two where the Church and its leaders provided charity and education?
Here are a few bits from the statement itself:
The dramatic growth in military spending is untouched. Addressing our national debt is essential, but balancing budgets on the backs of the poor and working families is flawed public policy and morally bankrupt.
I wish 50+ leaders from a religion with such a rich philosophical tradition could do better than cliches like this.
“Simply put, this budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good. A budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can’t be justified in Christian terms.”
Solidarity with the poor is probably not a good idea if it means we have to embrace policies that will make us all poor.
Rep. Ryan claims his budget reflects the Catholic principle of “subsidiarity.” But he profoundly distorts this teaching to fit a narrow political ideology guided by anti-government fervor and libertarian faith in radical individualism.This is anathema to the Catholic social tradition. In fact, ever since Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum, Catholic social teaching has recognized a positive role for government and our collective responsibility to care for our neighbors.
What? No cracks about Ryan and Atlas Shrugged?
Subsidiarity recognizes that those social institutions closest to the human person — families, communities, churches — can effectively respond to human needs. But subsidiarity, according to Church teaching, also insists that government has a responsibility to serve the common good when these institutions are unable to address the more systemic issues of poverty, inadequate health care, environmental degradation and other societal challenges.
Who will figure out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin if the religious have to worry about the poor?