The day after the LCWR completes its annual meeting the GOP presumptive nominee for president of the United States, Mitt Romney, announced that he has selected Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his VP running mate. What is interesting about this announcement is that one of the few things about which the United States Bishops have explicitly agreed with the United States Women Religious in terms of politics and faith is the immoral status of the so-called “Ryan Budget.”
On April 17 the US Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement about the Ryan budget after the professed Roman Catholic legislator claimed that his budget was “inspired by his Catholic faith.” According to a Religion News Service article:
A week after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan claimed his Catholic faith inspired the Republicans’ cost-cutting budget plan, the nation’s Catholic bishops reiterated their demand that the federal budget protect the poor, and said the GOP measure “fails to meet these moral criteria.”
Similarly, Bishop Stephen Blaire of California expressed additional and direct concern over the economic policies proposed by the young congressman and now VP nominee, as the RNS story continues:
Tuesday’s statement from the bishops came the same day as Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., called a proposed cut in benefits for children of immigrants “unjust and wrong.” Blaire, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, also decried any cuts in food stamps while preserving federal subsidies for industrial farming enterprises.
“Congress faces a difficult task to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices,” Blaire wrote to the House Agriculture Committee. “Just solutions, however, must require shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and fairly addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs.”
During a time so marked by the public disagreement between the Women Religious and the Bishops in the United States following the CDF’s “Doctrinal Assessment” of the LCWR, it is striking to note the unified front on this particular moral issue: both the bishops and nuns have been and continue to be adamantly opposed to the Ryan budget and economic policies.
This unjust economic policy and proposed budget served as the impetus for the now well-known “Nuns on the Bus” campaign launched this Spring by several representatives of American Women Religious communities and sponsored by NETWORK, the Catholic Social-Justice Lobby. In a CNN report, Sister Simone Cambell, executive director of NETWORK, explained:
“It is one thing to have political differences, but to try to hide a budget that will devastate people and claim that it is supported by your faith. It is unacceptable. He is wrong and he needs to be told so.”
This joint resolve to fight for the principles of Catholic Moral Teaching stands as a major obstacle for the GOP. Can Catholics in good conscience vote for a presidential ticket that represents such an immoral and unjust position?
There is, as always, lots of talk by some about the Democratic party’s platform as being “pro-choice” and the moral questions related to voting for candidates with such views. As the Bishops make clear in their voting-guide document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” Roman Catholics are not to be one-issue voters, but people who take into account a wide array of moral issues and vote according to their well-formed consciences.
Additionally, the Canon and Civil Lawyer and former Law-School Dean Nicholas Cafardi recently raised some important questions about what it means to even talk about a “pro-life” candidate and whether the GOP presumptive nominee qualifies: “Which Presidential Candidate is Truly Pro-Life?”
The immorality of the Paul Ryan Budget and his economic policies that stand in stark contrast to Catholic Moral teaching — as condemned by both the US Bishops and American Nuns, as well as others — is one of these factors that must also inform one’s decision this Fall.