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. RL

    This man is a drunk .

    May 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  2. D. Wilck

    Can one person out there who is ranting about abortion honestly tell me they have done one thing to help a single parent? I am walking the walk, are you? Have you helped a young parent get a job, get child care, get a car? I have taken custody of three unwanted children, and I am a liberal. Nobody is "pro-abortion" per se. But conservatives who want every child to be born but cut all education and health programs are full of bull. You don't know what you are talking about.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • James

      How about not getting knocked up in the first place?

      May 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • misanthrope3

      Good work, you are a nice person for doing that. However, someone's bad choices are not my responsibility and shouldn't mean I have to work more hours to pay my taxes. Condoms are cheap. Don't have a kid out of wedlock, they are expensive. Ultimately, I would rather be born poor than not born at all. The problem is progressive ideas have decimated the familial unit and the black community. More wealth is not needed to be taken to be given away when America has opportunity unlike anywhere in this world.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  3. Joe B.

    Who changed the responsibility for the poor from the church to the government?!?!

    May 14, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Hugo

      Jesus. He saw that the Romans didn't care about the poor and did something about it.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • James

      The church is too busy moving around pedophiles to be able to help the poor. You all the money they got for the poor went to pay off the victims of the child molesters.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  4. D. Wilck

    GovBagLady, you are an idiot. Nobody says able-bodied people should not work. We're worried about helpless or vulnerable people, like my grandchildren. Their parents have died, and we cannot afford insurance premiums for them. Until they are 18, they need coverage. Repubs just don't care. Numbers are all that matter. Boehner did not use the word compassion at all in his speech. How can this be a successful country if many children are not receiving health care?

    May 14, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • misanthrope3

      Health care is a service provided by others. In order to provide it, wealth must be transfered from one party to another. It is not free. People must work for that wealth. While empathy for your children's situation is due, it does not give you the right to take money from others to pay for that service. I highly doubt you send a large portion of your wealth to provide food and basic necessities to children in Bangladesh, who are no doubt much worse off relative to your grandchildren. So you can tell the problem with socialism is that theft is a necessity to achieve your goals of a more "fair" life. Life will never be fair, no matter how much violence and force is used to transfer other's property to the deserving party du jour.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  5. VR

    Ultra conservative pigs.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • James

      So mature. Bravo. Does your mommy know you are on the internet and not watching cartoons?

      May 14, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  6. Slav

    Yes, let's increase the safety net. I mean it's absolutely ridiculous that people should have to support themselves. Really we should not worry about anything, print more money to pay all of our debts, let all of the social welfare programs already in place run rampant, and just kick the can down the road like the last generation did.

    This is the problem people. You can want a lot, but at some point someone has to pay for it. 47% of Americans pay no federal income tax. 47% of Americans aren't obscenely wealthy so we know that it's not all the rich who don't pay anything. But lets keep on asking for more safety nets without paying for them. You want to pay more in taxes be my guest. Honestly I'd much prefer it if I could just write a check to a poor person. Right now if they tax me $10,000 I'd be willing to bet if it all went directly to the poor it'd somehow end up around $5,000 by the time government bureaucracy is done with it. But then again I work very hard for my money so it only makes sense that I should deserve to keep it.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • misanthrope3

      Don't ask progressives to do math. They are all Social Work, Philosophy and Poly Sci majors.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • BG

      @ misanthrope3

      "Don't ask progressives to do math."

      ... they avoid it as long as they can.. at least until they try to find a job. Then they buy calculators and learn how to read spreadsheets and P&L's 'on the job' in a hurry.

      May 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  7. tcmalibu

    You all talk about Catholic Republicans not wanting to help the poor, but how in the world does a true Catholic accept the democrats position that its ok to kill babies – seriously, how can that possibly be acceptable? A vote by a Catholic for any politician that approves of abortion would have to considered the ultimate hypocrisy, would it not?

    May 14, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • misanthrope3

      Intellectual honesty is a dish best avoided on an empty brain. The left have very empty brains and hearts. I get squeamish when I see road kill. The thought of killing a baby in a mother's womb is heinous, but is a "right" the progressives hold near and dear to their hearts.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • BG

      @ misanthrope3

      .. and their conscience? Maybe not. "Progressiveness" is a dish best served cold.

      May 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  8. JC

    Just ignore the problem and it will go away.

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

    A question for for you, Mr. Boehner. If Christ would appear on the scene tomorrow and had to decide between Republican legislative social policies and Democratic legislative social policies, which would he choose? Tell the truth Mr Boehner.

    May 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • misanthrope3

      No one knows that. But all the theft from the left hopefully wouldn't go unpunished. Most money in the "welfare" programs goes to pay salaries and administrative waste in the system. How much money do you donate voluntarily, rather than how much of your neighbor's money do you steal legislatively to give to the government?

      May 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  10. sapp11

    "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.

    I would venture to say that unborn babies are the most vulnerable. Are these same 70 letter-signers sending letters to all the Catholics in Congress that support abortion? I am talking about you Nancy Pelosi!!

    May 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Charlie Brown aka Carlos Cafe

      Supporters of a right to chose.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  11. Kenny

    Boehner emphasized doing the right thing for the right reasons in his lying speech. He said: "... humility, patience and faith – the raw material of hard work and sacrifice. They will take you as far as you want to go." If this is true, I pray they will take him all the way back to Ohio and deposit him there on a golf course for good.

    May 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  12. Rags

    What do you expect. Bonehead is a politician therefore a liar. Just because he wraps himself in religious garb makes no difference. He's still a liar.

    May 14, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • James

      How about a specific example Rags Head.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
  13. Chaos

    Catholics have no moral credibility at the rank and file are still allowing their leadership to protect pedophiles and evade responsibilities their victims..

    May 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  14. truthfulster

    "Put the needs of the poor and most vulnerable foremost in your considerations," Not even the Son of God or the catholic church puts ONLY the poor and most vulnerable in their considerations so why should us REDNECKS. It's just you democraps are liars and swindlers when you use these groups of people to further your political agenda. Just like all the illegal aliens that you love to see breaking the law, they are hurting the same amount of people as are here illegally because they are taking jobs and receiving tax dollars as welfare. Your precious obama just keeps printing money even though there's nothing backing it up. Sooner or later it'll come to a head and then you better run because judgement day will have arrived and it will not be God doing the judging.

    May 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Chaos

      You spelled judgment wrong.

      May 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Get a Grip

      go back into your cave, lower vibrating neanderthal.. that's about all of reality you can handle.....

      May 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
    • jb in nc

      The really sad fact is that there are millions of people in this country who actually think and feel like you. You wouldn't know GOD or JESUS if they stepped on you with their omnipotent feet! No wonder this country is in the shape that it's in.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Charlie Brown aka Carlos Cafe

      Typical. Crazy Republicans alway go on crazy tangents when confronted with facts. Why don't you address the main argument made by those professors, that while preaching morality and family values, and all that Christian nation nonsense, republicans tend to be the most heartless

      Seriously, CNN. You made repost this again

      May 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Another Larry

      @Chaos: "You spelled judgment wrong."

      Both spellings are considered acceptable. However, using the adjective "wrong" when the adverbial form "wrongly" is required is not acceptable. Isn't learning fun?

      May 14, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  15. BG

    .... still waiting for CNN to post a story about the "Miami Taliban" Imams..

    I guess Boehner is as good a distraction as anything. We certainly don't want to discriminate against the Muslims by pointing out their bad (or would that be treasonous?) behavior... Oh, that's right... it was only a couple of wayward Muslim Imams.. in the biggest, oldest, most established mosque... whatever. They were obviously very poor Muslims, if indeed they were Muslims at all.

    Take a break from the evil Republicans, CNN. There are bigger fish to fry.

    May 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • jeff

      @BG that story was the front page story on cnn.com hours ago...

      May 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • BG

      @ jeff

      I know, but it's not on been here on their religion (belief) blog.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  16. colowest

    And how is the front-page lead relevant to this story at all? He didn't turn the other cheek, by ignoring the letter he punched its writers in the face.

    I don't think I've seen more hypocrisy in my 66.5 years as watching Boehner choke up every time he mentions children - and then votes against any and every program that provides assistance to children of ANY income level or social standing every chance he gets.

    May 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • James

      How about a novel concept if you are going to have a kid have a way to pay for it. I don't go out having kids because I can't afford to. It is call responsibility. Grow up.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  17. Winston5

    "I believe that the actions that I've taken during my years in Congress uphold the values of my faith," he said...that's a joke, right??!!

    May 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Rob

      And he said it with a straight face. Typical two-faced hypocrite. This moron doesn't deserve to be speaking at a dog obedience school graduation.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • James

      Where was the out cry from the leftist when Obama gave a speech? Did they go after him on his abortion record? This has nothing but religious politics.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    Once again, Boehner shows that he and his fellow Republicans live by a double standard.

    May 14, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • misanthrope3

      Thou shall not steal. Philanthropy starts at home, not at your neighbor's house with a gun.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Edd

      Isn't that the ONLY STANDARD THEY KNOW?

      May 14, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  19. Seattle Sue

    Did Boehner cry as he was criticized by the Church? No, I didn't think he would as he has no morals.

    May 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  20. MacMaven

    Interesting how the Catholic church lives under a primarily Republican painted banner. This isn't the first time that Republicans turn their backs on the poor and "those who live at the bottom of our economy". Mr. Boehner doesn't realize that category is getting larger by the day. But really, what does he care?

    This same philosophy is shared by the backwoods rednecks and those that live in trailers as well. Northern and Central Florida is a perfect example of this. I guess if the Republicans would stop perpetuating that the Dems are going to take their guns, maybe they would wake up at the ballot box as well.

    May 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • GovBagLady

      Interesting how Dems can only debate a point when they can slander and use offensive adjectives to attack whom they disagree with. Most Republicans I know believe it is better to have able bodied people off welfare and working for a living, not only for their own self asteem but for the country as a whole. From personal experience working in a federal office the majority of people seeking public aid are healthy, able bodied, and could find work but choose not too because they can get assistence from the government and keep on partying with no responsibilities. Dems want everyone poor and on government welfare so they will keep them voted into office, while they forever are claiming to find ways to get people back to work. The Dems have sent trillions of tax dollars into welfare systems and their are more "poor" people now than there has ever been. And since you believe Rep voters only live in trailer parks I only believe Dem voters live in slums and ghettos of metropolitan areas that way Dems can keep their voting "slaves" "across the tracks and away from their "care-takers", who are really the only ones that knows what is best for them.

      May 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Brian from NJ

      "Interesting how the Catholic church lives under a primarily Republican painted banner."

      Huh? Read the article, several Catholics at the university are opposed to what Republicans, in particular Boehner, are doing lwith the budget. The Catholic Church does a great deal of work to help the poor and needy and comparing them to rednecks shows just how little you know about the Church's work. The facts are that the % of Catholics who are registered Republicans is very low (Bush policy and the wars turned them away form the GOP), according to Georgetown U. Many are Independents but the advantage goes to the Democrats over Republicans among registered Catholic voters.

      May 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Steve Oak

      "I guess if the Republicans would stop perpetuating that the Dems are going to take their guns, maybe they would wake up at the ballot box as well. "

      If the Democrats WOULD stop taking our guns, we would have that choice.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Jay

      you're right, i don't understand it either. why so many catholics are republican make no sense

      May 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Another Larry

      @Steve Oak: When did Democrats take any of your guns? They've never taken any of mine.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • misanthrope3

      I guess you don't live in Chicago, or NJ, NY, Mass or any other liberal enclave. I wonder if Mayor Daley passed a law that said you couldn't exercise the First Amendment, if then the lefties would be upset? I happen to think the Second Amendment is more important.

      May 14, 2011 at 8:37 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.