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Boehner avoids mention of criticism surrounding appearance at Catholic University
May 14th, 2011
05:50 PM ET

Boehner avoids mention of criticism surrounding appearance at Catholic University

By Larry Lazo, CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner emphasized "humility, patience and faith" in his commencement speech Saturday at the Catholic University of America, steering clear of addressing concerns raised by dozens at the college over his role in passing the 2012 budget.

Boehner, a Catholic and a Republican, made no mention of a letter that was sent to him this week by a group of 70 people from Catholic University as well as other Catholic colleges across the country, criticizing the 2012 budget that Boehner helped guide through the House. The signatories included faculty, priests and nuns, among others.

The legislation called for spending cuts that could adversely affect a number of programs that help the poor and elderly.

The letter said Boehner's actions go against the Catholic doctrine.

"It is your moral duty as a legislator to put the needs of the poor and most vulnerable foremost in your considerations," the letter stated.

Stephen Schneck, a professor at Catholic University, was one of the dozens who signed the letter.

"Catholic social teachings have always emphasized the importance of preferencing the poor in regards to governance and policy-making. And if you look over the speaker's record, it doesn't seem as if he's been fulfilling that part of the deal," Schneck told CNN.

A day after receiving the letter, Boehner did not directly comment on the proposed cuts listed in the budget, but he did express his satisfaction with the system that's currently in place.

"I think America has a strong safety net for those who live near the bottom of our economy," he said.

But it's that safety net that Schneck and his colleagues say Boehner is targeting.

"In the 2012 budget there are a number of items that just seem to be quite frankly at odds with Catholic social teachings in this regard - the cuts that he makes to WIC [women, infants and children] programs, the 20% cuts in food stamps, cuts to maternal and infant grants. ... What happens to Medicare and Medicaid?" Schneck said.

A number of Christian groups have since formed what they call a "Circle of Protection" in the hopes of doing just that - protecting groups that are in danger of being heavily impacted by cuts to various food and nutrition programs as well as to Medicare and Medicaid.

Schneck issued an invitation to Boehner to join them.

Boehner said Thursday that he feels like there are people in every religion who lean more liberal or conservative, but he said he feels good about his track record.

"I believe that the actions that I've taken during my years in Congress uphold the values of my faith," he said.

In his commencement address Saturday, Boehner emphasized doing the right thing for the right reasons: "... humility, patience and faith - the raw material of hard work and sacrifice. They will take you as far as you want to go."

CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. mom from new jersey

    my daughter just completed her Freshman year at The Catholic University of America and as far as she and her fellow students can see, the students and the university was very excited about the speaker coming to address the Class of 2011!! Aren't there more important things to consider right now like the poor people in the south who are under water? How Catholic does the speaker need to be??

    May 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  2. thessalonian

    Yes those nasty republicans. Any idea why the Clinton administration was able to balance the budget? It was due to high employment, thus people paying taxes. The republicans see this as the best model. Rather than having the poor on the public dole, thus providing a double hit, not paying taxes, and also requiring huge amounts of support, they believe in getting people back to work. To do this we cannot overburden corporate america with taxes that are too high and also we cannot burden the ecomomy with too much debt.

    May 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  3. Publius

    Perhaps the Majority leader should have mentioned the Archbishop Burke's commands to withhold communion from those politicians who voted for abortions? Perhaps he should have reminded the audience it is up to them to feed and clothe the poor as individual, not sit back and ask the government to do what we as individuals should be doing? The controversy is not that a few liberal priests, nuns, and others want government to do what the people ought to be doing. The controversy is why they think the government has any right to do this?

    May 15, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Reality

      "The USA is the largest foreign source of relief aid to Haiti from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. USA, through USAID is giving more than $712 million in aid. However, this money is comprised by the donations of many non-governmental organizations such as World Vision (large grants from the federal government) and the Red Cross accu-mulated from different parts of the globe through various campaigns in support of Haiti.[1] In comparison, the EU and the 27 member-states alone are providing over 400 million euro, which is about $650 million dollars.[2] Following this logic, the EU seems to be the largest financial support given to the Haitian nation.

      Also, a country by country Excel report can be seen here, where the EU countries are presented separately, and the US contribution is diminished to about 460 million dollars.[3]

      . Country/organisation ISO country code Funding, committed and uncommitted,

      . Others 639,381,379

      . Private (individuals & organisations) 593,639,219 . United States US 466,879,506 . Canada CA 130,733,775 . World Bank (emergency grant) 82,107,356

      . Ja-pan JP 70,744,798

      . Saudi Arabia SA 50,000,000

      . Spain ES 47,664,745

      . European Commission 43,290,043

      . France FR 33,844,153

      . United Kingdom GB 33,070,138

      . Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 27,976,462

      . Norway NO 25,298,044

      . Sweden SE 25,039,684 . Germany DE 21,645,022 . Brazil BR 16,884,782 . Denmark DK 16,288,032 . Australia AU 13,489,209 . China CN 10,813,535 . UN & agencies

      . Italy IT 9,302,037 . Switzerland CH 8,932,039

      . Finland FI 8,005,607

      . Russian Federation RU 5,700,000 . Netherlands NL 5,050,504 . India IN 5,000,000

      . United Arab Emirates AE 3,209,113 . Ghana GH 3,000,000

      . Ireland IE 2,886,002 . Donors not specified 2,219,169

      . Indonesia ID 1,700,000

      . Czech Republic CZ 1,154,401

      . Belgium BE 1,151,876

      . Poland PL 1,089,466 . New Zealand NZ 1,000,000 . Morocco MA 1,000,000 . Guyana GY 1,000,000

      . Estonia EE 1,000,000 . Luxembourg LU 722,900 486,000

      . Greece GR 290,000 11,161,000

      . Inter-American Development Bank 200,000 . South Africa ZA 134,904 50,110,000 . WORLD TOTAL 2,422,202,996

      May 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  4. JWH

    Catholics need to be born again – saved. They are political in every way.
    If the RCC did its job, the government would not need to feed the poor.
    besides, Jesus said the poor would always be here.
    Now I see his flaw,

    May 15, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • Publius

      You have it backwards. Too many believe because the government is doing the job, they do not need to do it themselves. That taxes are taken from them to give to the poor, they no longer feel responsible to give more directly to the poor. Get the Federal government out of the charity business, and more will contribute in greater numbers. Look at any natural disaster, Americans will send millions overnight. Give the compassion and charity of the American people a chance. Get government out of the way.

      May 15, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • thessalonian

      We are born again the way Jesus said "born of water and spirit" i.e. in baptism. Born agains preach a false gospel of easy believism.

      May 15, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  5. Reality

    Christian churches to include the RCC have many assets especially in real estate. Considering these religions no longer have any valid reason to function, they should sell off these assets and donate the money to the one of the US's poorest organizations i.e. the Federal government which in the red to the tune of $14 trillion dollars.................................................

    May 14, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Adelina

      Atheists have nothing to donate.

      May 15, 2011 at 3:51 am |
    • Reality

      The atheists, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, have donated billions of dollars to various charities.

      May 15, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • Publius

      Bill Gates contributes to the Bill Gates Foundation, where his wife runs the operation.

      May 15, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Publius

      Likewise Mr. Buffet contributed to Bill Gates' Foundation. Think about it. They are simply making a new government in their foundation. They ought to be dealing with the poor, sick, and elderly directly. Show some real compassion. Sit down and care for an individual. Writing a check is fine, and does some good. Yet real compassion is when you give of yourself.

      May 15, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Reality

      One part of the Gates Foundation:

      "Global Health Program

      The President of the Global Health Program is Ta-chi Ya-mada. The Gates Foundation has quickly become a major influence upon global health; the approximately US$800 million that the foundation gives every year for global health approaches the an-nual budget of the United Nations World Health Organization (193 nations) and is comparable to the funds given to fight infe-ctious di-sease by the United States Agency for International Development.[19] The Foundation cur-rently provides 17% (US$86 million in 2006) of the world budget for the attempted era-dication of poliomyelitis (polio).[20]

      The Global Health Program's other significant grants include:

      The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization The foundation gave The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization a donation of US$750 million on January 25, 2005.[21][22] Children's Vaccine Program The Children's Vaccine Program, run by the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), received a donation of US$27 million to help va-ccinate against J-apanese ence-phalitis on December 9, 2003.[23] University of Washington Department of Global Health The foundation provided approximately US$30 million for the foundation of the new Department of Global Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. The donation promoted three of the Foundation's target areas: education, Pacific Northwest and global health. The foundation also lead a study to increase access to high education globally. HIV Research The foundation has donated a grand total of US$287 million to various HI-V/A-IDS researchers.

      The money was split between sixteen different research teams across the world, on the condition that they share their findings with one another.[24] Aeras Global TB Va-ccine Foundation The foundation gave the Aeras Global TB Va-ccine Foundation more than US$280 million to develop and license an improved va-ccine against tub-ercul-osis for use in high burden countries.[25][26] Visceral Leishmaniasis Research The foundation awarded the He-brew University of Jerusalem Ku-vin Center for the Study of Infe-ctious and Tropical Dis-eases a $5 million grant in 2009 for research into vis-ceral leishmaniasis, an emerging pa-ra-sitic disease in Ethiopia where it is frequently as-sociated with HI-V/A-IDS, and a leading cause of adult illness and death.

      The project is a coll-aborative effort with Addis Ababa University and will gather data for an-alysis to identify the weak links in the transmission cycle and devise methods for control of the disease.[27] The foundation has also given The Insti-tute for OneWorld Health a donation of nearly US$10 million to support the organization's work on a drug for visceral leishmaniasis."

      May 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  6. D. Wilck

    Greg Finkel is right! Zillions to governments overseas, not for relief or charities, but to make dictators rich so they will protect our "interests"; who decides if this is working or not? What we gave to Mubarak over the years would help a lot of children. I have worked for a few adult ed and training programs, and in those programs, public assistance was not a permanent arrangement. People got skills and went to work. you might be surprised to find out how many workers came from a civic program. Now productive taxpayers.

    May 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  7. crazyprof

    I am all for people helping poor and unfortunate... out of their own pockets. If these priests and academics feel so strongly about it let them form a charity or increase donations to established charities and they will win my applause. But, stay away from my pocket and do not force me to pay more taxes to help you to indulge your "lets feel good about ourselves at others' expense" self image.

    May 14, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  8. mtrought

    Boehner's actions express his lack of intelligence as is ALL of his GOP colleagues

    May 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  9. paul

    John Boehner has changed quite a bit over the years. The "taste" of money can influence your beliefs. He is used to living the good life and hanging with rich people. They support his elections and he in turn, pays them back with legislation that helps the millionaires and billionaires. It is amazing his religious beliefs of helping the poor got pushed to the back burner over politics.

    May 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  10. D. Wilck

    Misanthrope, you chose the right name. I'm not talking about going socialist. You jump to conclusions without even knowing a family who appreciates a little help. With medicaid, these kids can live with us, their relatives, instead of being in foster homes. Either way, some public money would be involved. Tell me, just how much of your "wealth" you send to Bangladesh??? I want a dollar figure. Also, I sure don't condone out-of wedlock babies, but I encouraged their mother not to have an abortion, and promised to help her. Yeah, I guess that makes me a socialist.

    May 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • misanthrope3

      Medicaid is socialism. It is the theft of wealth from one group to give to another. We can simply agree to disagree. The source of money from the government is from other's property. So while you may find it charitable to take other's property, I find it criminal.

      May 15, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • misanthrope3

      Also, I don't send any of money to Bangladesh. Neither do you. That is my point. The money you get from other's through the government would do more good if used to provide food and clean water to poor children in undeveloped countries. My guess you have at least a cell phone, cable tv, and obviously internet. Yet you are so poor that you must have other peoples money or you would send your grand kids to a foster home. That just is not reasonable.

      May 15, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • jim

      Capitalists only have the "socialism" label. Nothing is wrong with a system that a democracy votes in.

      May 15, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • misanthrope3

      That is the most mindless statement I have ever heard. So what if a society voted to exterminate certain members of the minority population? Enslave them? Just steal their wealth? Mr. Jim is obviously one of the 45% who pay no federal income tax or enjoys a healthy paying Federal job. I see now why our country is sliding into a pit of debt and government dependency.

      May 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  11. GeIJo

    Did he wear his lace panties to match his tie? And did he bawl like a baby AGAIN? He's a liar and a thug.

    May 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  12. Mark Twain

    "House Speaker John Boehner emphasized "humility, patience and faith" in his commencement speech..."

    As if this äss clown knows the first thing about humility.

    May 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  13. ProudConservative

    Where do you all think that the money that helps the poor and homeless come from?

    I

    May 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Matt B.

      The working middle class. Certainly not the oil companies or the big corporations.

      May 14, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • jim

      The Bible says pride is the most deadly sin. It is what took Lucifer down ProudConservative.

      May 15, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  14. tcaros

    Republicans are hilarious little children. I can't wait for 2012 election campaigns to start. We need more SNL material.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • Chuck

      No -Obama, Pelosi and Reid suppy plenty of material.

      May 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  15. tcaros

    What happened to Boehner? He's looking a little pale.

    Did his tanning salon membership run out?

    May 14, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Matt B.

      I don't know about the tanning salon, but I hope he keeps on smoking.

      May 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  16. blake

    Why on earth would they have him speak there? Republicans spend 6 days of the week conflicting directly with what Jesus taught.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
    • tcmalibu

      Seriously? How is that abortion policy all you democrats covet playing into the whole Catholic thing? Its the ultimate hypocrisy.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • thessalonian

      And Jesus said "blessed are the taxpayers for they have hearts of charity when governments force the money from them". How does making people pay taxes so that a government can give the money to someone else go with the gospel Jesus preached? Where did he say we should have government do this and where does it say you are a better Christian for making government do this? Your Christianity is measured by what YOU do. Not by what you force others to do.

      May 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  17. Scott

    Leave it to CNN to create stories that try and frame the debate about the 2012 budget as being anti poor Republicans versus kind and generous Democrats. Who is going to protect these people when the county goes broke? CNN??

    May 14, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  18. Nate (Seattle, WA)

    The core beliefs of Republicans are absolutely in direct conflict with the teachings of Jesus. It's utterly amazing that a party of greedy, selfish, materialistic, warmongering, hate-filled people could have won a majority of support amongst Christians, while ranting about taxes, guns, abortion, and gays ... four things that Jesus said nothing about.

    That's good marketing (and a gullible electorate) for you.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Chuck

      Nate: How can you possibly lump all Republicans into one demonic group. I could say the same thing about Democrats but I would also be wrong.

      May 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Matt B.

      Chuck: The truth hurts! Republicans are selfish, money grubbing low feeders. All of you! I am so glad we took our Country back in 2008!

      May 14, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • thessalonian

      And Jesus said "Thou shalt force upon the rich taxes which shall provide for the needy, turn them upside down and shake from their pockets all checkbooks, wallets, cash, and coins because after all isn't the amount of money what charity is all about. Where did that story about the widow with the pennies come from anyway".

      May 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • thessalonian

      Where did Jesus say anything about running huge deficits to pay for the poor? He did not say anywhere that charity should be done by the government. We CANNOT continue to run trillions of dollars of red ink and expect that eventually we will have nothing less than a depression on our hands in which over 25% of the population will be on welfare without jobs. Then who's gonna pay the taxes. The greater tax burden placed on corporations, whether you want to admit it or not, the less they will hire and the more people will need the government. Yet the less the government will actually be able to give.

      May 15, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • thessalonian

      Any idea why the Clinton administration was able to balance the budget? It was due to high employment, thus people paying taxes. The republicans see this as the best model. Rather than having the poor on the public dole, thus providing a double hit, not paying taxes, and also requiring huge amounts of support, they believe in getting people back to work.

      May 15, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  19. Greg Finkel

    Instead of blaming Republicans, these leaders, academics, and others shall try to analyze where those money for poors go: several hundred billions annually – to illegals; billions – abroad to support terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Hezbollah, PLO, IJ, etc.; billions – to UN to support lavish lives of these useless and anti-American bureaucrats; and who knows where else. This money is a real saving for internal use: schools, poors, etc.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • Matt B.

      Mr. Boehner should be excommunicated for his failure to uphold the values of the Catholic Faith. Shame on him and all Catholic Republicans!.

      May 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • thessalonian

      And Jesus said "Thou shalt force upon the rich taxes which shall provide for the needy, turn them upside down and shake from their pockets all checkbooks, wallets, cash, and coins because after all isn't the amount of money what charity is all about. Where did that story about the widow with the pennies come from anyway".

      May 15, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  20. revinger

    the tavern-keeper's son is doing pretty well for himself with all that lobbyist money coming in the back door. who cares about the homeless and elderly. the chamber of commerce says "jump" and he says "how high?"

    May 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.