The faculty at Georgetown University are unhappy with Republican Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan referencing Catholic teachings while defending his budget against liberal attacks. In preparation of the House Budget Committee chairman's upcoming lecture at the the university, over 80 fellows and professors have signed a scathing letter challenging the congressman's understanding of his own Catholic faith. After a seemingly warm introduction thanking the Ryan for planning to come to the university on April 26, the letter reads:
"However, 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. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has wisely noted in several letters to Congress – 'a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.' Catholic bishops recently wrote that 'the House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.'
In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love."
The letter goes on to criticize Ryan's "rationale for gutting government programs" and tells the congressman that he is "profoundly misreading Church teaching."
The Ryan budget has passed the House but will not be approached by the Democrat-controlled Senate, which has not produced a budget in over three years. The Ryan budget calls for large spending cuts, reforms to entitlements, lowering tax rates and balance the budget by 2040. Under the current path set by the Obama administration, debt with be an over 200 percent share of GDP by 2040.
The Wisconsin Republican has previously brushed off criticism of his budget from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as cited in this latest letter, telling Fox News in an interview last week that “These are not all the Catholic bishops, and we just respectfully disagree.”
The Hill notes that House Speaker John Boehner, also a Catholic, has pushed back at the bishops’ criticism as well, saying during a press conference earlier in the month, that the bishops need to “take a bigger look.”
“And the bigger look is, if we don't make decisions, these programs won't exist, and then they'll really have something to worry about," Boehner said.
CNN reports that a spokesman for Ryan responded Tuesday in an email statement that the congressman is still looking forward to his visit to Georgetown.
"Chairman Ryan remains grateful for Georgetown's invitation to advance a thoughtful dialogue this week on his efforts to avert a looming debt crisis that would hurt the poor the first and the worst. Ryan looks forward to affirming our shared commitment to a preferential option for the poor, which of course does not mean a preferential option for bigger government," the spokesman said.