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Bishop criticizes USCCB committee’s reaction to Ryan budget

June 14, 2012

By a 171-26 vote at their meeting on June 13, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a proposal by Bishop Stephen Blaire, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, to begin drafting a message on the US economy.

The draft of “Catholic Reflections on Work, Poverty and a Broken Economy” will be brought to the body of bishops at the conference’s November meeting, after this year’s US presidential elections.

During the discussion leading up to the vote, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing criticized the committee's opposition to the budget plan put forward by Congressman Paul Ryan.

“There have been some concerns raised by lay Catholics, especially some Catholic economists, about what was perceived as a partisan action against Congressman Ryan and the budget he had proposed,” Bishop Boyea said in reference to the USCCB committee’s opposition to the House budget plan. “We need to be articulate only in principles, and let the laity make these applications … It was perceived as partisan, and thus didn’t really further dialogue in our deeply divided country.”

“I’m not sure that we have the humility yet not to stray into areas where we lack competence, and where we need to let the laity take the lead,” he added. “We need to learn far more than we need to teach in this area. We need to listen more than we need to speak. We already have an excellent, fine Compendium [on the Social Doctrine of the Church].”

Following his remarks, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit called upon the committee to place greater emphasis on the “disintegration of the family” as a factor in the breakdown of the economy.

Echoing Bishop Boyea’s comments, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City said that the committee is “at times perceived as partisan” and needs to consider the principle of subsidiarity, which has been “neglected in past documents.” Archbishop Naumann added that solutions that place emphasis in enrolling people in government programs have been “tried for decades” and failed.

“We need to talk about the debt and the real seriousness of that debt,” he continued. “Sometimes we’re perceived as just encouraging the government to spend more money with no realistic way of how we’re going to afford to do this.”


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Show 10 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Thomas429 - Jun. 16, 2012 6:58 PM ET USA

    I'll concede the notion of a "Broken Economy". But, I'll not concede that continuing the same governmental policies is a way to stop or molify its effects on those in need. The debts owed by this country and most of the world are the very thing that are breaking the economy. This is increasing the difficulty for the subsidiary sources of aid for the poor to find resources for their work. It is even harder for me to understand the Bishops when I see the state of the church in socialist Europe.

  • Posted by: filioque - Jun. 15, 2012 12:04 AM ET USA

    They have to have a premise of a broken economy. Otherwise, how can they demand more government programs? Thank God for Boyea, Vigneron, Naumann, and 23 other bishops who actually know what their job is.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2012 8:49 PM ET USA

    Gosh, I'm elated by Archbishop Naumann's comments, especially after a recent appeal from this same Conference not to cut back on such programs.

  • Posted by: sarsok8679 - Jun. 14, 2012 8:00 PM ET USA

    Wow, I am surprised to find out that not all of the bishops are Democrats, but actually political agnostics!

  • Posted by: self - Jun. 14, 2012 5:50 PM ET USA

    Amen! Let the Bishops/clergy teach principles, not policies.

  • Posted by: mgreen32234 - Jun. 14, 2012 5:36 PM ET USA

    171 of the bishops want this? If this had anything to do with my Catholic faith, I would break away and start my own religion.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2012 5:28 PM ET USA

    Thank God! I was wondering if there was a soul among the entire USCCB who would speak out as these men have done. I pray their brethren will end their scandalous alliance with socialism and take heed. Violating Subsidiarity, weakening the family through dependence on government and fiscal recklessness are immoral practices and grievously hurt the most vulnerable in society.

  • Posted by: unum - Jun. 14, 2012 5:16 PM ET USA

    Bishop Boyea said, “I’m not sure that we have the humility yet not to stray into areas where we lack competence, and where we need to let the laity take the lead”. There is hope for the American Church! Bishops Boyea, Vigneron, and Naumann represent rational thought not apparent in the public pronouncements of the the USCCB. We will pray for the success of their efforts.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Jun. 14, 2012 4:33 PM ET USA

    A few voices of reason. There is hope, even if it is small, that the bishops will get understand that the government gravy train has wrecked and is off the rails.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Jun. 14, 2012 1:45 PM ET USA

    If they start with the presumption that the economy is "broken" their conclusions would appear to be foregone. At least we can be thankfu for Boyea, Vigneron &al.