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. second mouse

    Too Bad Ryan didn't give up being a corporate shill and an ***hole for Lent. That might have done some good.

    October 27, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  2. 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 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Jose Canyusi

      I don't have a problem with politicians saying they're Christians and/or hold Christian beliefs; but I DO have a MAJOR problem with politicians that claim that "Christian Principals" (as defined by whom?) guide their decisions in office, when what REALLY guides their decisions is the money, favors, & gifts they get from BIG OIL, BIG PHARMACEUTICALS, RUPERT MURDOCH, THE KOCH BROTHERS, ALL WALL STREET FIRMS, & MILLIONS MORE TAX-EVADING BILLIONAIRES.

      In other words: Republicans.

      October 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Our God Reigns

      You've got a rude awakening coming buddy!

      October 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • HellBent

      @Our God – what are you hoping to accomplish by posting that. Sure you don't actually think you're going to threaten people into converting, do you? Do you get satisfaction 'knowing' that people will suffer when they don't think the same way that you do? Does it make you feel better to attempt to put other's down when they don't believe in your book?

      October 27, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  3. boocat

    Ryan reminds me of that classic line from "Annie Hall" about politicians – "You know the ethics these guys have; one notch below child molesters."

    October 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  4. tor5

    I used to be a frat boy. Now I’m a “conservative intellectual” and give talks at the Heritage Foundation to other “conservative intellectuals.” It’s much easier than being a frat boy. A lot less studying.

    October 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm |

    The Catholics are bringing ethics up. Wingnuts don't want to hear about ethics as they help Wall Street rob America and put seniors out on the street.

    October 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  6. FajitaBob

    Ryan for President! We would definitely have our balanced budget.

    October 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Jose Canyusi

      So, psychoticrepublicancheerleadingtrollBob....where is there any reference to balancing the budget in this story?

      October 27, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • nvanative

      putting unbalanced GOP politicians like Ryan – who promote "all or nothing” politics along with irresponsible deregulation – in office is what brought on the Great GOP Recession.

      October 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  7. Jose Canyusi

    So the Pope wants "a new global economic authority that could impose penalties on member states as a “way of ensuring that they possess efficient markets”?

    Last time I checked, God wanted obedience...not " efficient markets". What a perfect example of why separation of Church & State is important.

    So-called "Christian conservatives" might want to think twice before they say their faith makes them qualified for public office; especially when they base their condemnation of Democrats & Democratic views on issues on so-called "Christian beliefs".

    October 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  8. clwyd

    We told Ryan what we thought of him and the republicans plans for governing and beating down the middle class at his open forums. We yelled and screamed at him and he just is a deaf republican zombie!

    October 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • nvanative

      "he just is a deaf republican zombie!" – that's pretty damn close to true for all of "them". Any that don't follow – are eaten by their own!

      October 27, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  9. gmh

    Christ said " Give up all you have and follow me...........Christ stayed amoung the poor and needy.........Christ would not be coming to the defense of the rich.........The church is right about this one.

    October 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  10. Ah C'mon already

    So Ryan is a cafeteria Catholic? He's only choosing the parts of Catholicism he likes?

    October 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Is there any other kind?

      October 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  11. malcolm in St Louis

    The Pope is repeating "it is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than a camel to pass through the of a needle." Now either Republicans don't believe in heaven and want to get as rich as possible on earth as death is the end. Or they don't care an are helping make heaven a nice place by ensuring no rich A**holes make it there.

    October 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  12. Daniel Ptalivich

    I'm a good Catholic too...he will have all of eternity to regret his lies.

    October 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  13. G-D

    The Pontification of diatribe-like enriched fascism berates the lost and forlorn members of religious and non-so, cultural socialisms. Where and when will the amassed musings of 'unrichliness' come to realize and ration their viewpoints to 'wantonville' aesthetics toward undermining the so-called and piously rich who are in the family-gained wealthiness of monetary altruisms of falsehood's lamentations? GOD will have HIS finality as the decrepidtly morbid rich reach their finality days. I do though feel sorrows for those children of cornucopias' riches for they will be left holding the wealth-bags with no one to honestly lead them in devotional' righteousness sakes. Many of such wealth will squander their riches while others will hide it from others leaving the wealth baggages to mold and rott away.

    October 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You done gots some purdy words, I reckon.

      October 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Hey, GD, a bit of advice from some very good writing teachers:

      When you are satisfied with what you have written, edit it by half. When you are done with that, repeat the process. That way, the idea isn't lost in the fluff.

      October 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • G-D

      Srreee but I miss spelled one, "decrepidtly" should be 'decrepitly'

      Doc Veee,

      I shudder when some do udder,
      I wain in their dance,
      I hold tight upon one's rudder,
      I shoot while I prance.
      Whatever it cost no matter the price,
      I will ever think thrice.

      GOD be the body of allness,
      As HIS Gods live in our being.
      For we were never a guess,
      As gods we ever are seeing.
      Repent therefore for victorious sakes,
      Before the sun grows till the earth bakes.

      October 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Janet from Nebraska

      I have an English degree and CANNOT decipher what you're saying...do you even know? Refrain from trying to speak inpressively (so you think) and speak plainly using words as the parts of speech they were intended to be instead of trying to speak metaphorically, poetically, or whatever you are attempting to do! Before we can make changes in the way US government is being handled, we certainly need to be able to communicate with one another!

      October 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Oh flundered gruntbuggly,
      Thy micturations are to me
      As plurdled gabbleblotchits
      On a lurgid bee
      That mordiously hath bitled out
      Its earted jurtles
      Into a rancid festering [drowned out by moaning and screaming]
      Now the jurpling slayjid agrocrustles
      Are slurping hagrilly up the axlegrurts
      And living glupules frart and slipulate
      Like jowling meated liverslime
      Groop, I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes
      And hooptiously drangle me
      With crinkly bindlewurdles,
      Or else I shall rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon
      See if I don't.

      October 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • G-D

      tallulah13 wrote on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm, stating, "Hey, GD, a bit of advice from some very good writing teachers: When you are satisfied with what you have written, edit it by half. When you are done with that, repeat the process. That way, the idea isn't lost in the fluff."

      The slobberings of a 13 'year-old' tallulah or a 98 year old makes it hard to discern whom I ascribe to,,,,?

      My past-teachers of the English language doth construe no others needed from which to be of martyrdom's ascension within 'word-ographies'.

      L0vE and PeACe
      god, built by the Gods and forever living upon GOD's body

      October 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • G-D

      Janet from Nebraska wrote on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm, stating, "I have an English degree and CANNOT decipher what you're saying...do you even know? Refrain from trying to speak inpressively (so you think) and speak plainly using words as the parts of speech they were intended to be instead of trying to speak metaphorically, poetically, or whatever you are attempting to do! Before we can make changes in the way US government is being handled, we certainly need to be able to communicate with one another!"

      Janet, if you have a so-called "English" degree, then I take it via my conceived abilities toward grammatical usages eschews you away from "big" words' usage or you did fall from the graces of continuing to learn of such words? If therefore one cannot fathom dictionary words, how then will the common folk ever be able to comprehend that of the lawyers word usages? Educate, educate educate and not just one's chosen desires lest one wants to remain idiotically obtuse! 😐

      October 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • G-D


      I didn't know you knew how to "speak in Tongues",,,,,, 🙂

      October 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Just Saying

      G-D, I saw a bumper sticker a few years ago that you should pay attention to:

      Eschew Obfuscation

      October 27, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • MnTaxpayer

      OK. Gotcha.

      October 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So you don't want your ideas to be understood, GD? Or perhaps you like to disguise the fact that you have nothing interesting to say by using overwrought, nonsensical prose. Either way, I won't waste another moment reading your tripe. There are authentically eloquent writers who post here who provide commentary that is informed and actually worth reading.

      October 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • nvanative

      are you talking about snakes?
      Man that's funny stuff! Hilarious...... have you got that on you-tube?? You should wear one of those large white dresses and a big pointy hat ... maybe wave a chicken foot around or something...and a little background smoke would be great! Halloween is coming!

      October 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      "So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air." 1 Corinthians 14:9

      Try using the common tongue to express what you are trying to say. It is far more effective.

      October 27, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  14. yuri

    This dude can become a barking barnyard dog, if his plans are critically analyzed. He may alo call it as a quintessential example of "class warfare" or simply say it is "political broadside". Have $15 ready if you want to ask him a question.

    October 27, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  15. mjw

    I can't help it, but I find Ryan very scary. Something about him reminds me of demons, I don't know what it is and I know most people believe he is handsome and smart, but something about him just makes me feel uncomfortable. There is something very unnerving about this person in my spirit, apart from politics. Anyone else feel that way?

    October 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • mikaman3000

      Please take your meds

      October 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It's because he's a politician. You may notice most of them give off this "vibe".

      October 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I get that vibe from politicians, shamans, salesmen and anybody else trying to sell me that which I don't need or want.

      October 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Nutter

      I totally get what you are saying. Ryan gives me the creeps.... "Demon" seems to fit the general impression I get from him. He may call himself a Catholic but there is nothing about his actions that speak to that.

      October 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Just Saying

      I don't know about Ryan being a demon but I know what you are saying. When I look in his eyes I get the feeling that whatever it is that is hiding in there, it is not fully human.

      October 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • nvanative

      "Most people think he's handsome and smart" – no we don't.
      That's just what the lame stream media wants us to believe. Ryan talks like some dopey eyed high school drop out, and his unbalanced ideas and theories seem to come from that same guy!

      October 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  16. Phil in KC

    Wisconsin used to be such a progressive state. What happened?
    I don't think his religion should be informing his politics. Remember the brouhaha when Kennedy was running for President and the lengths he had to go to? People asked if he would be taking instruction from the Vatican and he had to be very specific and firm that he would not. Now this guy is basically saying 'forget all that'.
    Of course, it also sounds like he's talking around it and bending the words of the Pope. Careful there; you could end up in Purgatory – or worse.

    October 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Mercker

      Wisconsin used to be a progressive state before Fox and Rush got all the redneck living in the country fired up. It is now a weird personal battle they think they are fighting against intellectuals/liberals living in the cities. They are holding us all hostage and is damaging our whole state. They want our state to run more like Alabama or Mississippi. Those states suffer from the same problem. Too many angry uniformed rednecks choosing politicians that don't represent them, but make them feel tough and important. I like to think they will eventually realize the propaganda machine that is working on them. But then again look how long Alabama and Mississippi have been red. Even with the worst educational system, highest pollution and corruption in the country they can't wait to vote Republican. It may be too late; just too many dumb people that want to believe.

      October 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  17. MTATL67

    What dogma. I use to respect him for having courage but now he has proven himself to be just another obstructionist.

    October 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  18. Bill

    "conservative think tank" One of the biggest oxymorons in existence.

    October 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  19. Max


    Most people do not understand a word of what Ryan Said. Is he trying to trick us into believing that he pope doesn't believe in some aspect of sharing what you have with the unfortunates in society? Well, one central message of the catholic church is the whole business of paying your fair share of taxes and taking care of the poor in society.

    Paul Ryan and the teapublicans clearly don't embrace the idea of the ' haves' like themselves, taking care of the 'have-nots'

    It's obvious that he's trying to complicate this idea with his verbose language.

    This is weird!!!

    October 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      The thing is the folks at the Heritage Foundation are likely to understand what Ryan said. While I do not agree with them politically, unlike other conservative groups in the country the folks at HF are extremely well-educated.

      As to the meat of the problem – Ryan is using his typical double-speak on this one. If he is setting his sights on 2016, he is going about it all wrong.

      October 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • FajitaBob

      Max: the Church does not believe in paying TAXES to help others; they beileve in helping others directly. That seems to be a common misunderstandoing among fidcal liberals. I speak from experience: when I had fallen on hard times, I did not seek the help of our inept government; I went straight to my church where I found more help from my fellow parishoners than I could even accept. I am now working to follow this amazing example of good in humanity. If you care about those in our societ with less, try giving to them, rather than to a politician.

      October 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Just Saying

      to Joe from CT, not Lieberman: the people at HF do have an impressive collective list of academic degrees, but remember what Democritus said circa 55 BCE: "Many much learned men have no intelligence." Having met more than a few people from HF, it is clear to me that old Democritus was on to something.

      October 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • nvanative

      "the church" does not believe in paying their fair share of taxes period! Sound familiar?

      Heritage Foundation is nothing more than a propaganda machine for the GOP/neo-con/tee-bag nation.
      I guess you could claim those at HF are intelligent, but that’s like saying Bush was justified in invading Iraq.

      October 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  20. norma jean.

    Hey, Mr. Ryan .....what ever happened to the "separation of church and state???????How can you call yourself a religious man and yet be so cold and totally lacking in character and honor when it comes to the rest of society. Maybe you need a few more trips to confession where you probably lie anyway!!!!!!

    October 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • FajitaBob

      Norma Jean is a bitter nag. It's "separation," not abolition, as your ilk would have. How about speaking to the character of all your friends in Wisconsin who expect the rest of the society to pay for everything for them? There's your lack of character.

      October 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • RamRod

      Hey, Norma Jean....it was a question! Someone asked him about his thoughts, and he responded. Church and state is a whole different ballgame. He was answering a relevant question, which applied to his personal faith. How is that an endorsement of religion?

      October 27, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • nvanative

      FajitaDick ~ why do think it's okay to lie about and hate people who are unemployed or poor.

      October 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
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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.