Catholic World News

Catholic Congressman explains link between Catholic social teaching, practical politics

July 12, 2011

Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, a leading figure in the budget debates on Capitol Hill and an active Catholic, has written an unusually lucid column on the application of Catholic social teaching to the American political scene.

Policymakers apply timeless principles to policies that are necessarily limited by changing circumstances. The judgments of equally well-intentioned citizens may differ. Usually, there isn’t just one morally valid policy. Instead, there are better and worse ones calling for respectful dialogue and thoughtful judgment. The moral principles are dogmatic; the political responses are prudential.

The call for social justice, he writes, should not be interpreted (as it so often is) as a call for liberal social policies:

Social teaching is not the monopoly of one political party, nor is it a moral command that confuses the preferential option for the poor with a preferential option for bigger government.

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  • Posted by: filioque - Jul. 15, 2011 12:32 AM ET USA

    And the Lord might also say, "As long as you delegated your responsibilities to a government that taxed other people to satisfy your conscience, you didn't do it for me."

  • Posted by: unum - Jul. 13, 2011 9:48 AM ET USA

    Please tell me where in Scripture Christ commands us to fund government to care for our brothers and sisters. I have looked, but can't find the passage. Christ did command us to show His love to our brothers and sisters by caring for others who need our help, as the laity in the St. Vincent de Paul Society and other organizations has done for centuries. But I can't find any reference to subcontracting that care to a secular government that can't talk about Christ's love.

  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Jul. 12, 2011 8:01 PM ET USA

    I can just hear it now ... "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?" He will answer them, "Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me." And these will go off to eternal punishment, saying, "But, Lord! What about subsidiarity!"; but the righteous to eternal life.

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Jul. 12, 2011 7:42 PM ET USA

    Newt Gingrich, another active Catholic politician, lucidly explained that the Ryan proposal for Medicare constitutes right wing social engineering.