Speaker of the House John Boehner will give a commencement address tomorrow at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Some at that university and other liberal Catholic teachers are objecting to his presence. They have written an open letter to him, excoriating his economic plans as unworthy of a Catholic legislator.
“Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policymakers. Yet, even now you work in opposition to it,” they write. “You are at a variance from one of the Church’s most ancient, moral teachings… The House budget radically cuts Medicaid and effectively ends Medicare.” It is “particularly cruel” to women, they allege.
Your plan, they say, “invokes the deficit to justify visiting such hardship upon the vulnerable, while it carves out $3 trillion in new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.”
These academicians show nothing but their own ignorance of Catholic teachings in this string of invectives. Noticeably absent from the signatures are those of the President of Catholic University, the Vice President of Catholic University and Bishops of the United States.
“Variance from one of the Church’s most ancient, moral teachings?” You mean like abortion? Or gay marriage? Boehner has an excellent record in both these profound issues. The previous speaker, also a Catholic, was the one at odds with basic tenants of the faith.
Father Robert Sirico writes at the Corner at National Review, “Indeed, it could be said that what these Catholic academicians are proposing is not a ‘preferential option for the poor’ but rather a preferential option for the State. They make the unfortunately common error of assuming that concern for the economically weak and marginalized must somehow translate into (yet another) government program.”
Sirico continues: “To jump so seamlessly from the Magisterium’s insistence on the fundamental and non negotiable moral obligation to the poor to the specifics of contingent, prudential and political legislation is wholly unjustified in Catholic and social teaching. One suspects that the moral theologians who signed this letter know that. It would be good for them to say so. And then there is the passage in Pope Bendict’s most recent social encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate:” ‘The church does not have technical solutions to offer.'”
Amen. These “Catholics” should review the theory of Subsidiarity, a very important Church teaching. Here’s how Pope John Paul II put it: “A community of higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions. The social assistance state leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies bureaucratic ways. Needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and act as neighbors to those in need.”
Father Jonathan Morris adds, “the thought that the only person or only entity who can help the poor is the federal government goes against a principle of subidiarity… (the budget) is a prudential decision that belongs to politicians.”
Morris, an author and frequent guest on Fox News, decried these letter writers as Catholics who are using religion for political reasons.
Boehner should ignore them. Catholics should ignore them. Americans should ignore them.