Georgetown Jesuit Calls Ryan on Budget
Paul Ryan Meets the Jesuits
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 "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.
A mark, that will surely leave.
(Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, who is the guiding force behind this letter, probably isn't too worried about Ryan and his acolytes in the press corps, having tangled with tougher opponents in his day.)
Neither, do I suspect, is the response from Ryan's flack satisfactory:
"Chairman Ryan remains grateful for Georgetown's invitation to advance a thoughtful dialogue this week on his efforts to avert a looming debt crisis that would hurt the poor the first and the worst. Ryan looks forward to affirming our shared commitment to a preferential option for the poor, which of course does not mean a preferential option for bigger government."
Says the frontman for a budget plan that almost everyone agrees will send the "debt crisis" into low-earth orbit, unless of course you adhere to the unique mathematics on which the whole thing is based.
Ryan tried this nonsense based on the Catholic teaching on "subsidiarity," which holds that matters should be handled by the lowest and least centralized level of competent authority. It's this teaching that Catholic conservatives, like Ryan, hold up as a talisman every time they want to justify ending public benefits for the poor, which is undoubtedly why Ryan — and whatever staffer it was who came up with his quickie explanation of why zombie-eyed granny-starving is justified through it — tossed it off so glibly. They all read the same journals. However, as the letter from Georgetown points out:
[Subsidiarity] 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 — "subsidium" — 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."
By all means, congressman. Come to Georgetown. Discuss it with the folks. I'd buy a ticket.
Illustration by DonkeyHotey for The Politics Blog