Rep. Ryan hits back at Catholic class warfare question
Rep. Paul Ryan says he doesn't believe the Catholic Church is preaching class warfare.
October 26th, 2011
05:40 PM ET

Rep. Ryan hits back at Catholic class warfare question

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, waded into a bit of economic theology Wednesday.  The staunch Catholic, who recently told CNN that he gave up fear for Lent, was asked about the collision of his faith in finance and his faith in the church.

The Vatican put out a new financial document Monday called "Towards reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of a global public authority."  The document calls for a new global economic authority that could impose penalties on member states as a “way of ensuring that they possess efficient markets,” Roman Catholic Bishop Mario Toso said at a Monday news conference.

While speaking at an event at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., Ryan was asked about the document and the pope's latest encyclical, which also touched on economics and finance.

The questioner asked if the pope's fiscal philosophy amounted to class warfare. In his June 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI wrote to the faithful, "Today's international economic scene, marked by grave deviations and failures, requires a profoundly new way of understanding business enterprise."

"It's been awhile since I read that one. Um, I actually do read these. I'm a good Catholic, you know ... get in trouble if I don't," joked Ryan, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said he had skimmed the Vatican's document released Monday but kept his comments mainly to the pope's encyclical.

"You could interpret these in different ways. If you read the totality of these encyclicals - that one in particular - I think you could derive different lessons from it. What I think he is probably getting at - and look, I am getting out on a limb here ... read 'Without Roots,' a book he wrote when he was then Cardinal Ratzinger with Marcello Pera, president of the Italian Senate at the time, a phenomenal piece going at the roots of moral relativism," Ryan said.

The pope, he continued, "is talking about the extreme edge of individualism predicated upon moral relativism - that produces bad results in society for people and families, and I think that's the kind of thing he is talking about."

"So, do I believe that we should have some kind of international system of dividing the pie? No, and I don't think that's what he is calling for," Ryan said.

"I believe that the social Magisterium - again, I am saying this as a Catholic - is very helpful and it does not pick which of the two philosophies between the left and the right are right or wrong. That is up to the prudential judgment of lay people who are practicing, practice as politicians."

CNN's Dan Gilgoff contributed to this report

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Politics • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. Goodguy1

    The Republicans tell the poor, "just believe in god and keep working, God will take care of you." Let see, they hate poor people, they love war, they don't approve of abortion but will put a needle in an inmates arm in a second. Now how does God fit into this Mr. Ryan? Mr. Bush? Mr. Cheney? Mr. Cantor?

    November 12, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  2. steward

    The Representative should start his reading with Rerum Novarum in 1891. The social message since then is quite clear for those who don't wear blinders (like Roman Catholic Republicans, such as Reps. Ryan and Smith (NJ), and Gov. Christie (NJ).)

    Any Roman Catholic priest in any city with an #occupy movement, who aligns himself with the teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI should be spending every spare moment ministering to the people at the rallies, "washing their feet" or whatever else needs to be done. Any Roman Catholic bishop in any city with an #occupy movement, who aligns himself with the teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, should be appealing to any self-identified Roman Catholic politician within his diocese and familiarizing them with the social equality and pro-labor-union messages of the Roman Catholic Church. I seem to recall the former Karol Wojtyla, later called John Paul II, being quite supportive of the Solidarity Union in Poland.

    October 30, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  3. AmericanSam

    When the church lets the rich do their thing, the Republicans beat their Bibles.

    When the church actually tries to help the poor, the Republicans play the "separation of church and state" card. Anything not to have to help the people who need help the most.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  4. Stan Soboleski

    Most of what I forced myself to read among the many comments was worthless.
    It is obvious most of the comments come from people who are unfamiliar with Holy Scripture and are devoted to a 'religion' mentality which is not Christian.
    Religion is not Christian. Roman Catholicism is not Christian except in name only. Those of us who refuse all the 'religion' talk and go directly to the Holy Bible are rejected by 'religion' people. We call ourselves Christians.
    When unregenerates confuse the issues by mixing 'religion' and personal ignorance in an attempt to understand Christians and the Holy Bible, the unregenerates come away confused.
    Each human is made of 1 a spirit, 2 a soul and 3 a body. Each part of our humanity must be fed. We feed our human spirit with God's Holy Word. We feed our soul with education. We feed our body with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    Problem lies with simply feeding our human body til we are fat and get educated in school but neglect the humans spirit. That person is out of symetry. He/she is 2/3 normal and 1/3 dead. Why? He/she is neglecting the human spirit's need.
    We who are Christians are fed in all three areas and are superior to unregenerates. We have wisdom, knowledge and eternal life in Heaven while the unregenerates spend eternity which is prepared for the devil and his angels.
    I am Stan Soboleski and I approve of my words.

    October 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • AmericanSam

      No disrespect, but isn't that religion? A quick look at the first definition of the word "religion" on Dictionary.com reveals to me that religion is "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs." If the beliefs and practices of Christianity don't apply to this, then what does?

      October 30, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Richard M

      "Those of us who refuse all the 'religion' talk and go directly to the Holy Bible are rejected by 'religion' people. We call ourselves Christians."

      Glad to see you're still fighting the wars of the Reformation, but the question still remains: *Who* gets to decide how to interpret Scripture, and how? There are...thousands of Protestant denominations, and many have important differences in how the read Scripture – especially about the nature of grace. The reality is that too often, two Christians will read the same line of Scripture, and draw different conclusions about what it means.

      The Catholic Church resolves that by having a formal Magisterium. The Orthodox have something similar, only more decentralized. Some Protestant churches have some (usually more limited) source of authority for interpretation. But simply saying "Scripture alone" isn't much of an answer. Because quite often the New Testament doesn't provide specifics about how it is to be applied – or even understood.

      October 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • chris

      Uh, the Holy Bible that you revere so much was assembled by Roman Catholic Bishops in the 3rd Century AD. So if they are not "real" Christians, when did they go wrong? Was it right after they assembled the Bible or later? Also, since the Bible did not exist for the first two hundred years of Christianity, were all those people not "real" Christians either?

      November 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  5. MartinT

    Personally, Ryan is one of four people in the world today that I think we would be better off without. He is an idiot, a fool, and a blowhard who cares not one ounce for the average American. He is useless and taking up valuable space on our planet.

    October 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      So are you ,what's your point?

      October 29, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  6. shawn

    Ryan has no idea what he is talking about, theologically or economically. The statement by the Pope should not just be ignored, but eradicated from public discourse.

    October 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • michael alba

      Pope Benedict XV is a first-class theologian. Just read his books. Even though adherence to encyclicals are not mandatory to us Catholics he is the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth and we do listen carefully to his pronouncements because there is truth to be gained from it.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  7. ed roane

    The Pope didn't write or even read the "encyclical".
    It carries no weight as the teaching authority of the Catholic faith.
    It was more of a position paper of financial possibilities, suggestions from Vatican bureaucrats.
    Any Catholic may dismiss the letter as bad economic theory.
    The secular media mangles most news from religious communities.

    October 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • michael alba

      The teaching authority of the Pope does carry profound signficance and meaning for us Catholics. Practicing Catholics in communion with the Pope respect his comments regarding social problems facing our troubled world

      October 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  8. mow-ral rel-it-a-vis-um?

    I will say this. He used bigger words and mostly in the proper context over the Evangelicals in his party. And he didn't say "the Pope/God/Bible made me do it." Which is refreshing from a Republican point of view.

    October 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  9. steve

    ah, no wonder he's a lunatic right winger. the church is at it again.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Patty

      You must not have read what the Church published this past Monday. If you did, you would realize that Rep. Ryan's thoughts are flying directly in the face of what the Church is saying. So don't blame the RCC for Rep. Ryan's misguided belief's and idolatry of markets.

      October 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  10. Kathleen

    If he is such a good Catholic, how does he justify his hate filled speech regarding his own President, What a hypocrite!!

    October 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • ADRIAN

      AMEN KATHLEEN!!!!!

      October 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • michael alba

      I question your remarks "hate filled" . We disagree with President Obama on many areas including morals. . Rep. Ryan is being sincere and deserves our support . for defending Pope Benedict XVI's Caritas in Veritate Love in Truth. Suggest you read it complete to discern the profound Christian insights about the financial crisis and t he consequences of globalization he points out.

      October 28, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  11. Bye Bye Ryan!

    God told me not to vote for Ryan and to Recall Walker. Amen!

    October 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  12. Are we there yet?

    One world order in the offing?

    October 28, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • hurry up

      sec- hurry up, make my day!

      October 28, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  13. MaryM

    People of WI, Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeas vote this guy out of congress.

    October 28, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  14. Reality

    From p. 1 – please skip if you have seen this before:--------------

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself."

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers (i.e. Rep Ryan) of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

    October 28, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      Skip this even if you haven't seen it before, it is useless bs posted by a pos.

      October 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Freshieee

      Oh COME ON, do we really have to get into a debate on whether Jesus was God's Son? I'm a liberal Catholic, and I know how other people view Jesus, and that you have the right as an American to say what you believe, but do we REALLY have to delve into religion when we should be worried about how stupid politics and ultraconservative Tea-publicans are ruining America??? Think about that...

      October 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • Reality

      Prayers are useless, ideas are priceless!!!

      Some ideas for creating new jobs: (What are your ideas?)

      1. Inst-itute an “old-house/condo/apartment” replacement program akin to the successful “automobile gas-guzzler” removal program. Today, there are simply too many houses, condos and apartments in the USA. It is significantly stupid to continue building new ones on new lots. Tear down existing dwellings and rebuild on the same lot thereby keeping the number of housing units stable and providing many jobs in the demolition, building material suppliers and construction industries.

      2. Are big cities needed anymore? Most exist for the service industry and these days most services can be provided from the home via PCs. Time to consider big city downsizing with conversion of these outdated areas to parks and entertainment centers. Again, more jobs are created to accomplish this. (planners, architects, landscapers, construction workers and building material suppliers).

      3. Fresh water diversions/capture: It is insane to allow all of our fresh water to flow back into the oceans. Areas like Southwest and Western states have droughts almost every year. Time to build huge canals from rivers like the Mississippi and Missouri to irrigate these parched lands. And it is time to dramatically increase the number of reservoirs in states like Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico. Again more jobs created for planners, civil engineers, construction workers, building suppliers, farmers and ranchers.

      4. R&E jobs- 1. computer-driven cars, busses, trucks, planes and ships 2. Robotic police, fire and protective aids 3. More efficient birth control methods 4. A pill to temporarily eliminate the s-ex drive. 4. A female “Viagra” 5. Continued search for cheap fusion energy.

      5. Space jobs- 1. Moon/Mars stations/mining run by robots. 2. Highly functional, well-equipped, super-fast interstellar probes

      October 29, 2011 at 12:42 am |
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About this blog

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.