Many months ago, when I launched ANOTHER VOICE, I decided that I would not take sides with any US political party. I am an historical theologian not a political campaigner.
I am also a strongly committed Roman Catholic who, even with so much current Vatican-inspired nonsense, says proudly “hell no I won’t go!”
Being Catholic for me means belonging to the Catholic wisdom tradition. It means appreciating all human striving for personal meaning, integrity and justice. And it means looking at the world from a Jesus perspective. It means adopting an outlook that encourages personal growth and social transformation. It means building community and learning from history. It means not being afraid to ask questions about faith, about the Church, or about the world in which we live.
Now that the Mormon Mr Romney has picked the Roman Catholic Mr Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate, I have some serious questions. I see a new Catholic political dilemma; and I have serious questions about what it means to be “pro-life.”
I clearly remember this past April, when our USCCB sent a blistering message to the House Ways and Means Committee. Our US bishops insisted that any federal budget must be judged by the way it protects the “least of these.” I remember the words of Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, Calif., the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice, Peace and Human Development, when he stressed that “The House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.”
The architect of the federal budget that our Catholic Bishops deemed immoral was of course Rep. Paul Ryan, a Catholic, who has now joined Mitt Romney as his running mate on the GOP ticket.
Catholic voters will now have a choice in the November 2012 presidential election that highlights contemporary Catholic tensions and ethical priorities.
Tensions and ethical priorities are of course an essential part of our Catholic life.
LCWR, as of last Friday, August 11th, has formally rejected the Vatican takeover of its organization. The sisters have been accused of emphasizing work with the poor and not focusing enough on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. It is a question, once again, about our broad-based catholic (meaning universal) CATHOLIC perspective on human life.
LCWR Sister Simone Campbell, who participated in “Nuns On A Bus” tour during which she and other sisters traveled to nine states protesting the budget proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan, has continually reiterated that Ryan’s budget “rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good. That’s wrong.”
At the end of April 2012, Representative Ryan was invited to speak at the Jesuit affiliated Georgetown University. Before he arrived, Ryan was sent a letter signed by more than ninety members of the Georgetown faculty. In that letter, the vice presidential candidate was again taken to task. “Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the letter emphasized. “Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.”
So now we have much food for Catholic thought over the next three months. And…..ironically or not…..both the current vice-president and the recent vice-presidential addition to the Republican ticket are Catholics from heavily Catholic states.
I close with remarks from Michael Sean Winters, writing in the National Catholic Reporter on August 11th:
“Mr. Ryan has taken to invoking Catholic Social Teaching, and especially the concept of subsidiarity, to defend his budgetary schemes. Alas, he could not tell the difference between subsidiarity and sausage…. Mr. Ryan has put forward no strategy for assisting the poor, protecting the vulnerable, guaranteeing health care to all. He simply wants to roll back the role of government to pre-FDR days. And, to be clear, to achieve his goal, he is willing to engage in explicit dissent from years and years of explicit magisterial teaching. Dissent may not bother non-Catholics. It may not, in this instance, bother some Catholics. But, I look at our socio-cultural landscape and think Catholic Social Teaching is the only thing that can save our ideologically confused, socially centrifugal culture from itself. Ryan’s willingness to dissent from it – and for what? for Rand ? – is not only bothersome. It is dangerous.”