There's an interesting dynamic beginning to play out recently on Paul Ryan's budget by Catholic theologians and scholars against what I would call Catholic lobbyists -- and having been raised Catholic, it's a dynamic I'm familiar with. A
May 25, 2011

There's an interesting dynamic beginning to play out recently on Paul Ryan's budget by Catholic theologians and scholars against what I would call Catholic lobbyists -- and having been raised Catholic, it's a dynamic I'm familiar with.

A group of Catholic academics spoke out against Rep. John Boehner, (who is also a Catholic) because he supports Paul Ryan's budget plan, which will ultimately hurt the least of us -- and as such, he's violating important tenets of modern Catholicism. Here's the cached version of the letter that was sent to Boehner and those that signed it:

Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings. From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.

The 2012 budget you shepherded to passage in the House of Representatives guts long-established protections for the most vulnerable members of society. It is particularly cruel to pregnant women and children, gutting Maternal and Child Health grants and slashing $500 million from the highly successful Women Infants and Children nutrition program. When they graduate from WIC at age 5, these children will face a 20% cut in food stamps. The House budget radically cuts Medicaid and effectively ends Medicare. It invokes the deficit to justify visiting such hardship upon the vulnerable, while it carves out $3 trillion in new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy...read on

You remember the phony outrage that was caused when right wingers went ballistic over President Obama being invited to speak at Notre Dame?

It's not surprising the the mainstream media hasn't covered this at all. But when it's the Catholic Bishops trying to screw up health care reform, it's major news.

As E.J. Dionne also observed about this media blackout, you didn't hear many news stories coming out about this divide because it doesn't fit with the Beltway's usual narrative:

And the story broke from the stereotypical narrative the media like to impose on Christians in general, and Catholics in particular. If the headline is “Conservative Catholics Denounce Liberal Politician on Abortion,” all the boilerplate is at the ready. But when the headline is “Catholic Progressives Challenge Conservative Politician on Social Justice,” this is something new and complicated. It’s far easier to write the 10th story of the week about Newt Gingrich.

Catholics Anthony Stevens-Arroyo writes: Catholics challenge Boehner on faith and morals

The exception, in a perverse way, was Fox News, which briefly last week tried to make a right-wing issue out of the story. Bill O'Reilly led the charge, and he came up with an unusual defense of Boehner (since he sides with the GOP) by calling the academics, gasp, immoral.

O'Reilly: But to attack Speaker Boehner as an unfit Catholic is itself immoral because only God can make that judgment. The college professors protesting the speaker's commencement address at Catholic University are making a blatantly political statement that has little to do with religion.

Bill O'Reilly, a self proclaimed moral gasbag opinionator, made what he calls his own moral arguments against Dr. George Tiller, and eventually Tiller was murdered. See, everything for right-wing Catholics is tied to a woman and how they can control them. It's as if nothing else matters, and that's sad. Bill O also lies by justifying his own position against our social safety nets by saying that America is going bankrupt.

Now I, your humble correspondent, am also Catholic, and I do support spending cuts because even though entitlement programs do some good, the looming bankruptcy of the country would harm far more people than the entitlements help.

Oh, and if you thought those Catholic Bishops wouldn't support Paul Ryan's odious budget, guess again: Jonathon Cohen: The Catholic Bishop and the Devil

Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York and president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent a letter on Wednesday to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. The subject of the letter was the House Republican Budget, which Ryan wrote, and it was part of an ongoing dialogue between the two men. Dolan’s letter did not endorse the Republican budget per se. But it praised Ryan for his attention to the Church's values and, if you read the text, you can see why Ryan has (according to Politico) been brandishing it as a signal of support

Digby recaps how those same Catholic Bishops acted as a lobbying group for Republicans in their efforts to kill health car reform.

Here's the entire Bill O transcript: Bill O'Reilly: Controversy Over Boehner Speaking at Catholic University

Speaker Boehner is set to give the commencement address at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., this Saturday. But 79 college professors around the country have signed a letter opining that Mr. Boehner is not upholding Catholic moral teachings. The professors say that because the speaker supports budget cuts that might impact poor people, including women and children, that he is "anti-life and not upholding Catholic theology."

Mr. Boehner himself is a Catholic and replied this way:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Like any religion, you will have some who are a little bit more liberal and some who are a bit more conservative. But I believe that the actions that I have taken during my years in Congress uphold the values of my faith.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Now I, your humble correspondent, am also Catholic, and I do support spending cuts because even though entitlement programs do some good, the looming bankruptcy of the country would harm far more people than the entitlements help.

The college professors are missing the essential point. The responsibility of the U.S. government is to protect all its citizens, and a bankruptcy in this country would devastate everyone.

The cold truth of the matter is that our government simply cannot spend the amount of money it is spending. Everything has to be cut, including entitlements. That is not an immoral position. That is a responsible position because, again, if the economy collapses, everyone will be hurt.

Now, many left-wing academics believe that raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations will cover the entitlement spending, but that is a canard. The enormous rise in Medicaid, Medicare and the looming Social Security disaster can never be covered by revenue enhancement. Never.

All entitlements must be re-evaluated. There are ways to help the poor that don't bankrupt us, and Catholics are compelled to help the poor. As you may know, "The Factor" gives millions of dollars to charitable causes. We have set up BillOReilly.com to do that because we believe those who have should help the have-nots.

But to attack Speaker Boehner as an unfit Catholic is itself immoral because only God can make that judgment. The college professors protesting the speaker's commencement address at Catholic University are making a blatantly political statement that has little to do with religion.

And that's "The Memo."

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