Paul Ryan, Catholic? Got a Problem with It? UPDATE

My title is a bit of a tease, but it’s meant to direct your attention to Ed Morrissy’s exceptionally thorough and balanced look at Paul Ryan and all of the rhetoric being thrown around about his budget, the bishops, how he is perceived by progressives, the distinctly uncharitable “pray for his conversion” being recommended by some who presume to know the state of his soul, and of course, Ayn Rand.

The key question of whether Ryan’s budget violates his faith gets addressed best by the man who has the authority to speak on Ryan’s standing in the church — his bishop. Bishop Robert C. Morlino addressed this accusation in a column on Thursday to members of the Diocese of Madison, instructing that Catholic social teaching involves both solidarity (with the poor) and subsidiarity — the principle that support for the poor should come from the sources closest to them, the individual members of the church, or the local communities. Where “intrinsic evil” is not involved, the political solutions for the ills of the world should come from the laity, and not the church itself…

As I say, it’s thorough, it’s balanced — that means it’s long, but well-worth your time. Read it all…

UPDATE: Touching on being “thorough” in our political understanding, Rebecca Hamilton is starting an every-Monday series on that topic. Read: Stop slogan-voting; Stop hate-voting; Stop being Manipulated. Voting as an act of political spite is not always the best thing! :-)

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • vox borealis

    Read it last night….great piece.

  • Joseph H. M. Ortiz

    Mrs. Scalia being (along with Mark Shea, Joanne McPortland, and Simcha Fisher) among my Favorite Foursome in Blogland, I must admit I’m surprised by the tone of her post here: to say that it’s “distinctly uncharitable” to “pray for [Paul Ryan's] conversion” strikes me as being itself off-base. For isn’t it common Catholic teaching, stressed by the Benedictine tradition, that one’s Christian living involves multiple successive conversions? For that matter, can’t one speak of a conversion in the realm of political views? And even in the order of faith-conviction, to speak of conversion to Catholicism does not imply presumption of knowing the state of a convert’s pre-conversion soul.
Anyway, I submit that one can readily admit that Paul Ryan is a pious Catholic in the state of grace, without being uncharitable in praying that he and I and every other Catholic be converted to true views away from any errors we may hold, be they contrary to the faith or to the objective evidence in matters NOT of the faith.

    [The point is I have no idea who is or is not in a state of grace, and neither does anyone else. It is presumptuous and outside of our scope to assume that we know who needs "conversion" or not. One can pray for others -- indeed I pray for all of our pols and priests every day -- without telling others to "pray for their conversion" which seems to me to be a sly way of saying "pray that he'll think the way we think..." The best prayer we can make for others is for their salvation. The rest then takes care of itself, no? -admin]

  • Jerry Wilson

    In the shameless self-promotion category, I wrote about this a couple of days ago:

  • Manny

    I read it yesterday. It was excellent. I don’t understand some Catholics, and I’m referring to those who criticize Ryan.. First, how is it not Catholic to bring fiscal discipline to a program that will go bankrupt? If something isn’t done, Medicare will disappear, and then where will old folks go? Second, I can’t believe Catholics are actually wondering if to vote for Ryan. We already know Obama cut $716 billion from medicare. We already know Obama is the most pro abortion, anti Catholic president this country has ever had. What kind of a choice is there?

  • Pingback: Would US Elections Still Astound de Tocqueville and Chesterton?

  • Joseph H. M. Ortiz

    Sorry, but I thought that far from being presumptuous, it’s Catholic (as well as Benedictine) to hold that everyone on earth needs successive conversions. As John Henry Newman put it: “In heaven it is otherwise: but here below, to live is to change; and to be perfect is to have changed often.” 
No doubt Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are praying for my conversion away from Catholicism. Far from considering that uncharitable or presumptuous of them, I reckon it a sincerely benevolent though misguided concern for my benefit.

  • Gloria Enoch, ofs

    Ryan’s Bishop is simply not enough. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have criticized his budget. They have said it does not meet the Catholic Standard. I will agree with them on this one. By the way they collectively are rarely if ever considered to be LIBERAL. A person who uses the Ayn Rand approach to humanity cannot by that definition be Catholic. Yes he is Catholic, he was baptized but his ACTIONS (Budgt) are not Catholic. Everyone should read the April USCCB statement it says it all. .

  • Brian English

    “A person who uses the Ayn Rand approach to humanity cannot by that definition be Catholic. ”

    Point out to me one provision in the budget that you think could have been written by Ayn Rand.

    “Everyone should read the April USCCB statement it says it all.”

    Worthless generalities. If the bishops really want to engage on this issue, they should put forward their own plan. “We don’t have a plan of our own; we just know we don’t like your plan,” isn’t a valid position for Tim Geithner or the bishops.

  • LisaB

    “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have criticized his budget. ”

    Ryan has a budget. Too bad Obama hasn’t produced a Federal budget in over 3 years, then we Catholics would know how the Bishops “feel” about gross overspending, blatant mismanagement and complete disregard for the taxpayer’s money all to help “the poor” that Obama is growing like weeds.

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    “they collectively are rarely if ever considered to be LIBERAL.”

    Except of course, on immigration, torture, the death penalty — all of which I agree with them on. Bishops are not “liberal” or “conservative.” They are Catholic. Ryan’s own bishop says his budget is in line with Catholic teaching. There is undoubtedly room for criticism, but selectively agreeing with bishops “on this one” when it suits ones own thinking isn’t much of an argument. How funny that people who normally have little good to say about bishops are suddenly citing them as the only voice worth listening to. Ah, the world is such a place.

  • Manny

    Anchoress you should probably update your blog with this article by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, “In Defense of Christian Responsibility”:

    He makes the very point I made above.

  • Gail Finke

    That is an excellent piece. I cannot understand anyone — including some of the people commenting here — who insist that the budget proposed by Paul Ryan is not consonant with Catholic principles. As Ed Morrisey says, you don’t have to like it to admit that it is not unCatholic. You can disagree with how parts of it, or even all parts of it, go about ensuring the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, but there is more than one way to accomplish any goal. CST does not endorse any political system or party. There is no perfect government on Earth, and there never will be. But I do know this: It is NOT Catholic to promise people things that can never be delivered. It is NOT Catholic to bankrupt the country when you know perfectly well that the things you are bankrupting it for are unsustainable. It is NOT Catholic to “help” people by keeping them poor and beholden to the government. It is NOT Catholic to deny people their conscience rights and to deny people their lives. It is NOT Catholic to pretend that marriage is something that anyone can redefine at the drop of a hat. It is NOT Catholic to prop up unsuccessful and bankrupting social programs and pay large middle management salaries to the people running them while people — real, poor, hurting people — suffer. It is NOT Catholic to pretend that the number one reason people are poor in this country is that they don’t get married before they have children. It is NOT Catholic to pretend that children brought up by single mothers are just fine and it is NOT Catholic to pretend that a single mom should be able to raise a child by herself with no problem. It is NOT Catholic to pit people against each other because of race and income. It is NOT Catholic to try to stifle and prevent religious freedom. This man and his administration are attacking the Catholic Church, and all religion! How can anyone who believes any faith even consider voting for him? He will, if he can, destroy the Catholic Church as a force in the public square, and once he’s knocked us over what smaller, less organized religion could hope to withstand it? I would not have chosen Mitt and Ryan, I don’t think they’re anywhere near idea. But they sure as heck aren’t Obama and Biden, and for that reason they’ve got my vote.