April 26th, 2012
03:14 PM ET

Ryan defends budget in face of Catholic critics

By Dan Merica and Kate Bolduan, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Rep. Paul Ryan defended his proposed federal budget on Thursday against criticism from some Catholics, who say it violates their tradition’s teaching by putting an undue burden on the poor.

Ryan, a Catholic who chairs the House Budget Committee, told students and faculty at Georgetown University, a Jesuit school, that his budget was in line with his understanding of his faith, though some Georgetown faculty are organizing opposition to his proposal.

“Of course, there can be differences among faithful Catholics on this. The work I do, as a Catholic holding office, conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it,” said Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican. “What I have to say about the social doctrine of the church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding of the problems of the day.”

As Ryan spoke, a group of nine students perched in the balcony section of the auditorium made that unfurled a banner that said “Stop the war on the poor - No social justice in Ryan’s budget.”

The unveiling startled the crowd, but Ryan continued as if nothing had happened.

“I think that his budget proposals are incompatible with social justice which is a core Catholic social teaching and part of Jesuit values,” said Cole Stangler, a junior history major at Georgetown. “So for him to come here and say that he is deep in touch with his Catholic values are misguided.”

Georgetown University describes itself as a “global research university deeply rooted in the Catholic faith,” and was founded by John Carroll, America's first Catholic bishop.

Ryan’s $3.53 trillion dollar budget doubles down on past proposals to overhaul Medicare and other government programs that are seen as politically sensitive. While the budget has little chance to become law, it draws a distinct contrast with Democratic views on spending and will loom large in the 2012 race for the presidency.

The nine students who protested inside the auditorium, who identified as part of the Occupy movement at Georgetown, said that when they heard Ryan was speaking, they decided to protest the event.

“We thought it was important to make a very clear and bold and peaceful statement to him, to his face,” said Madeline Collins, a junior at Georgetown.

This speech and protest comes after a group of Georgetown faculty members sent Ryan a letter about his budget. In it, 90 faculty members and other staff, including a group of priests, write that “we would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.”

Attached to the letter was the Vatican's Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, commissioned by Pope John Paul II. The authors of the letter wrote that they hoped it would “help deepen your [Ryan’s] understanding of Catholic social teaching.”

At the start of his speech, Ryan joked about the letter, saying that he had received the letter and appreciated the dialogue it has started.

Much of the uproar was sparked when Ryan said that his Catholic faith shaped the budget principles outlined in his proposal. In particular, Ryan pointed to the Catholic idea of “subsidarity,” an idea the Ryan defined as “the government closest to the people governs best,” as a main driver of his proposal.

The Georgetown faculty members said that Ryan misunderstand the meaning of “subsidarity.”

“Subsidiarity is not a free pass to dismantle government programs and abandon the poor to their own device," reads the letter. "It calls for solutions to be enacted as close to the level of local communities as possible. But it also demands that higher levels of government provide help - 'subsidium'– when communities and local governments face problems beyond their means to address such as economic crises, high unemployment, endemic poverty and hunger."

In addition to the Georgetown group, the United states Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a statement cautioning against overreaching budget cuts that endanger “poor and vulnerable people.” The bishops’ message calls on "Congress and the Administration to protect essential help for poor families and vulnerable children and to put the poor first in budget priorities.”

Outside Ryan's speech, Catholics United, a liberal Catholic group, held their own protest. A little over a dozen people stood outside Healy Hall, where the speech took place, and held a sign the read, “WERE YOU THERE WHEN THEY CRUCIFIED THE POOR?”

In an interview with CNN, Chris Pumpelly, the group’s communications director, labeled Paul’s budget “unmoral and unchristian.”

“Paul Ran's budget fails a basic moral test,” Pumpelly said. “Asking our seniors and working class Americans who live paycheck to paycheck to pay for the tax breaks for the super wealthy and not asking defense department to share in that sake nice isn't just unfair, it's unmoral and unchristian.”

In his speech, Ryan positioned his budget in a much different light.

“If enacted, this budget would promote economic growth and opportunity starting today, with bold reforms to the tax code and a credible, principled plan to prevent a debt crisis from ever happening,” Ryan said of his budget proposal. “Our budget offers a better path, consistent with the timeless principles of our nation’s founding and, frankly, consistent with how I understand my Catholic faith.”

Helping the poor through charity is a core tenet in the eyes of many American Catholics, according to a survey of American Catholics released late last year by the National Catholic Reporter. In it, almost 70% of respondents said that helping the poor was something “very important,” to a Catholics’ identity. According to the survey, helping the poor was “almost as core to Catholics’ identity as their belief in Jesus’ resurrection.”

There has also been an increase in stress put on helping the poor by Catholics. “In 2005, 44% of Catholics said that a person could be a good Catholic without donating time or money to help the poor,” reads the survey. “But now in 2011, this figure has increased to a substantial 60 percent.”

- CNN’s Rebecca Stewart contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Catholic Church • Money & Faith • Politics

soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. kindness

    A thought to consider without a typical ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Trancend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and trancsend our own desire to know and have proof. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Let go and let god".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find a truth you can take with you in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life. You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf, the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed, your good deeds are forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated, your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over .
    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent....

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth.

    Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment. You don't get what you want you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    Your all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime .
    Its awsome .

    May 10, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  2. Ray E. Georgia

    Recently I watched a Nature Program about a pair of Ospreys raising their young. After raising the young Ospreys to maturity the adults flew away leaving the young Ospreys to fly or die. That is how it is in the real world. If you want to survive you need to take responsibility for your life. Don't expect anyone else to do it for you. Fly or die.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  3. Peg - AZ

    This is what the Republicans do not seem to get – that the private sector's long term growth and success is also dependent on government and the country's workforce – success it is all interdependent – and it is not a zero sum game.

    A healthy economy requires a strong middle class to generate enough demand and activity to sustain enough growth to create enough employment. This does not happen naturally as a result of an unrestrained free market that rewards the fittest eventually to the point that if left unrestrained, generates monopolies and a wealthy few – this is simply the natural pattern of an unrestricted free market. Capitalism and free markets are powerful and wonderful tools, but this does not work like a perpetual motion machine, all by itself. Eventually so much money tends to pool at the top as to undermine demand as economic growth. Other forces are necessary to keep the "machine" working properly and in balance.

    Government purchases and jobs (military, teaching – educated workforce, courts, infrastructure) are like the balances placed on an economic wheel that keep the wheel spinning properly. They provide the essentials needed to generate wealth in a modern economy, and in so doing, they also provide good paying jobs and help increase the size of the middle class.

    This is not to say that the public sector is the answer either. Not by any stretch of the imagination is this true – it is a balance that is required to keep the economic machine in top form to generate wealth and jobs. The truth is that too much money pooling at the top hurts our economy and so would too much reliance on the public sector (but we have never had the latter)-

    Right now, too much money is pooling at the top and not being used to fuel enough growth through demand, and too many public sector workers – who are needed – like teachers, etc are on unemployment – getting them back to work would greatly help our economy.

    A large reason for our success after WWII was due to the increase in government spending and taxes (military industrial complex, education, NASA, courts) that kept money flowing back to the middle class who then provided the purchases that fueled the private sector – growing GDP – spending by government also provided the necessities for private sector success and wealth generation (courts, infrastructure, educated work force, national security, R&D)

    It is NOT a zero sum game. Money spent in the economy, by the public or private sector, is expansionary. Increased economic activity is fueled by demand. This leads to growth that is "represented" by money & grows and expands GDP. this equals more wealth & more tax revenue –

    This approach also caused expansion, and allowed us to pay down our debt to GDP after WWII, when debt to GDP was something like 117% – We grew our way out and part of sustaining this growth was made possible by "tax and spend" for things that provided the essential services required to generate wealth (educated workforce, infrastructure, courts, national security, etc) and that also at the same time helped support and maintain some income equilibrium and equity through good paying private sector jobs. All of these things are necessary for a free market to grow and expand (and not stall out if too much income pools at the top)

    April 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Peg - AZ

      To expand further, I think what people often do not realize is that the wealthy few do not generate enough purchasing power to sustain our economy – there aren't enough of them to generate and sustain enough demand to support their own wealth or our economy or jobs –

      April 29, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Peg - AZ

      Helping the poor expands our economy in the same way – they tend to spend 100% of this money and put it right back into the economy – the size of the economy is based on activity "represented" by monetary value – the more often and frequently this activity occurs as "represented" whenever money changes hands – the larger our economy – demand fuels growth and production of goods and services – "speed of movement of money" through activity expands the economy – if activity is too slow – shrinking economy – that is what is happening as a result of European austerity – they cut to try to save but then shrink the economy and revenue and then have to cut even more – causing a downward spiral –

      April 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  4. Reality


    Balancing the budget: A start-

    Dear Mr. Ryan,

    Some recommendations for your next budget:

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?: And how many “souls” would be saved?

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror like 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.


    April 29, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  5. Prayer changes things

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things.

    April 29, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things"

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!*!.~

      April 30, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  6. Prayer changes things

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    April 29, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  7. ditty1991

    Ron Paul just won Louisiana. Why aren't u reporting it CNN? cannot wait until the convention.

    April 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  8. Haime52

    The idea that giving tax breaks to the well off is a failed policy. Trickle down does not trickle and really needs to flow down to work. Austerity is failing in Europe, why would anyone think it will work here? Can you legislate the absence of greed? Will congress and lobbyists reign themselves in? Congress has become a club for the well healed and have little in coomon with the common people. There is no way that a millionaire can relate to someone earning 30K or less. They live in a different world. How many of them regularly have friends that earn so little over to dinner? Or even regularly associate with someone in that lower wage earner class? Do they simply sit down and just listen without injecting there own policies into the discussion?

    April 28, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    April 28, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  10. BunnyBunny

    Matthew 25:41-46
    "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

    "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

    "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

    But I am sure Jesus really mean that. He wanted the rich to get richer. Jesus was all about belief that material wealth is the greatest good, right??????

    April 28, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  11. Pete

    Ryan is catholic in name only,he uses the name for funding from the religious rightwing hypocrites who believe his idiological rantings as gospel.His religious sheep have no brains because its he they follow around not having a clue.,hoping one day one of his stupid ideas catch on with voters,making him look smart.He is much like Romney,a life long want a be politician hoping for a break.But this isn't the time to use citizens like test rats hoping their economic experiment works,most times it doesn't,leaving citizens in worst shape than before..They don't care ,they're well off financially,so it doesn't effect them like the average citizen,who ultimately suffers from their mistakes.

    April 28, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  12. Mike

    War on the poor??? That would be Obama's worthless dollar policy, and energy prices that cause EVERYTHING to cost more including food and transportation for everybody including the poor....

    Obama, "under me energy costs must necessarily skyrocket" Yes, Obama we know... This really helps the poor....huh?

    April 28, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    April 28, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • danielwalldammit

      I wonder if Prayer's to Lard Gautama would have a hope of changing you.

      April 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Prayer changes things


      April 29, 2012 at 6:45 am |


    April 28, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • Reality

      "The allegation is sometimes made that Hitler was a Catholic – a Christian until the day he died. This claim is based upon the fact that Hitler was born and raised in a Catholic family.

      However, as an adult, Hitler specifically rejected the Catholic Church, as well as Christianity in general. He described himself as "a complete pagan".

      The book Hitler's Secret Conversations: 1941-1944, published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc. (1953), contains definitive proof of Hitler's real views. The book was published in Britain under the t-itle, Hitler's Table Talk: 1941-1944, which ti-tle was used for the Oxford University Press paperback edition in the United States.

      Some excerpts:

      All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler:

      Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:

      "National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.... Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. (p 6 & 7) "
      10th October, 1941, midday:

      "Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. (p 43)"

      And it was the Christian and Communist forces that defeated said Hitler:

      To wit:

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:
      M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)

      The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..(Religions/Groups involved)*

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Pagans)

      18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      *:" Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?

      A: No, of course not – unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century – Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union – no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion."

      Q: So, what you're saying is that religion has never killed anyone.

      A: Arrgh... You all-or-nothing people drive me crazy. There are many doc-umented examples where members of one religion try to exterminate the members of another religion. Causation is always complex, but if the only difference between two warring groups is religion, then that certainly sounds like a religious conflict to me. Is it the number one cause of mass homicide in human history? No. Of the 22 worst episodes of mass killing, maybe four were primarily religious. Is that a lot? Well, it's more than the number of wars fought over soccer, or s-ex (The Trojan and Sabine Wars don't even make the list.), but less than the number fought over land, money, glory or prestige.

      In my Index, I list 41 religious conflicts compared with 27 oppressions under "Communism", 24 under Colonialism, 2 under "Railroads" and 2 under "Scapegoats". Make of that what you will."

      April 28, 2012 at 8:39 am |
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