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Georgetown faculty criticize Ryan on eve of lecture

April 25, 2012

On the eve of a scheduled lecture by Rep. Paul Ryan at Georgetown University, nearly 90 faculty members have written the Wisconsin congressman a letter to “challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.”

“Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the signatories stated. “Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.”

“While you often appeal to Catholic teaching on ‘subsidiarity’ as a rationale for gutting government programs, you are profoundly misreading Church teaching,” they added. “Subsidiarity is not a free pass to dismantle government programs and abandon the poor to their own devices. This often misused Catholic principle cuts both ways. It calls for solutions to be enacted as close to the level of local communities as possible. But it also demands that higher levels of government provide help--‘subsidium’--when communities and local governments face problems beyond their means to address such as economic crises, high unemployment, endemic poverty and hunger.”

Signatories to the letter include Dolores Leckey, the former executive director of the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, Jr.; 14 theology professors; and 10 Jesuits, including Father Thomas Reese.

Ryan’s spokesman responded:

Chairman Ryan remains grateful for Georgetown's invitation to advance a thoughtful dialogue this week on his efforts to avert a looming debt crisis that would hurt the poor the first and the worst. Ryan looks forward to affirming our shared commitment to a preferential option for the poor, which of course does not mean a preferential option for bigger government


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  • Posted by: ColmCille - Apr. 28, 2012 3:15 AM ET USA

    It is these academics who don't understand subsidiarity, nor the Gospel. It is NOT beyond the means of communities to provide for the poor, if you reduce the tax burden, giving people the opportunity to freely donate to organizations who can help in a direct, personal way, and thus everyone gains in merit and increases in holiness. Instead, the poor are held hostage to inefficient and impersonal government programs, while taxpayers are forced to pay for it. Which sounds more Gospel values?

  • Posted by: chasann113163 - Apr. 26, 2012 8:05 AM ET USA

    Just proof that we need to take back our Catholic schools. Yes, If I had my way I would make Abortion Illegal, it is a principal our religion stands firm on. Catholic schools and universities should reflect our faith.

  • Posted by: impossible - Apr. 25, 2012 11:10 PM ET USA

    Georgetown and Notre Dame have no standing to make pronouncements or objections as to Catholic matters. They have disqualified themselves. Those who cherry pick from social justice encyclicals to support their left wing ideology cease to be educators but reveal themselves as nothing more than political ideologues. Paul Ryan's theology on these matters is in line with the Magisterium which Georgetown apparently disdains.

  • Posted by: sarsok8679 - Apr. 25, 2012 10:29 PM ET USA

    As it is with leftists, they seem to think that Charity begins with government and the Church is just another government agency. I would bet that what these faculty members give to real charities is substantially less per capita of what Paul Ryan gives, because they feel their charity giving should go to the government.When they face the Lord someday and he asks what did you do to feed my lambs, I don't think telling Him, "I paid my taxes", will resonate!

  • Posted by: unum - Apr. 25, 2012 6:48 PM ET USA

    It appears that Rep. Ryan's hopes for a thoughtful dialogue are wasted on the Georgetown faculty as indicated by their medium of communication, The Huffington Post. Georgetown is an institutional embarrassment to all faithful Catholics.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Apr. 25, 2012 6:12 PM ET USA

    It is not what "they" are afraid of. It is an effort to intimidate the speaker into compromise or even capitulation. Pray for Representative Ryan.

  • Posted by: jacobtoo - Apr. 25, 2012 4:28 PM ET USA

    Does Rep. Ryan want to make abortion illegal again?

  • Posted by: spledant7672 - Apr. 25, 2012 11:23 AM ET USA

    What I always wonder about these group letters and/or protests prior to lectures at universities is, why the need for a preemptory opposition? Why not just listen and then offer a considered response? What are they afraid of?

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Apr. 25, 2012 9:58 AM ET USA

    These critics of Ryan are firm believers in the nanny state but have given no thought to who will pay for their big government programs. Piling massive debt onto our children doesn't seem to bother them. Well, it bothers me.

  • Posted by: Adeodatus109 - Apr. 25, 2012 9:46 AM ET USA

    I'm pretty sure Ryan has better reading comprehension than these "academics." A reading of Centesimus annus 48 proves that Ryan wins, these liberals lose.