A reader, with a much better memory than mine, suggested that I share a commentary by John Gehring that NCR published shortly after Rep. Paul Ryan took over the Speaker of the House position in 2015. Here it is: Speaker Paul Ryan's Catholic Challenge.
Here are a couple of highlights to entice you to read the full story:
As Paul Ryan settles into his new perch as the most visible leader on Capitol Hill, all eyes are on a politician who has been unusually candid about the way his Catholic faith influences his policy proposals and philosophy of government. If many elected officials speak in vague, generically safe terms about faith and values, Ryan dives head first into the minutiae of Catholic teaching, trades letters about budget policy with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and finds himself sparring with theologians.
The Wisconsin congressman and then House budget chairman made a case for smaller government and defended cuts to social welfare programs in specifically Catholic terms during a 2012 speech at Georgetown University. ... Ryan said, "We put our trust in people, not in government. Our budget incorporates subsidiarity by returning power to individuals, to families, and to communities."
Ryan's center-left Catholic critics in academia and social justice circles have been harder on him than members of the church hierarchy. But his relationship with Catholic bishops is also complicated. When the bishop chairing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' domestic justice and human development committee said the GOP budget Ryan spearheaded failed to meet a basic moral test -- and described cuts to programs that fell heavily on children and other vulnerable populations as "unjust and wrong" -- Ryan curtly dismissed those concerns as not reflective of all church leaders. He found a friendlier ally.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who grew close to Ryan when he was archbishop of Milwaukee, called him a "great public servant" with an "obvious solicitude for the poor."
This seems particularly appropriate today:
Speaker Ryan faces the unenviable job of trying to patch together a bitterly divided House that reflects a Republican party fighting a civil war between establishment leaders and insurgents.
Read the full column here: Speaker Paul Ryan's Catholic Challenge.
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