Lately the Catholic Church seems to be disturbingly active in the political landscape, playing both sides against the middle and projecting a fairly bipolar image at the same time. First there was the nun smackdown, and then a couple of days
April 27, 2012

Lately the Catholic Church seems to be disturbingly active in the political landscape, playing both sides against the middle and projecting a fairly bipolar image at the same time. First there was the nun smackdown, and then a couple of days later those very same Catholic bishops came out swinging against Paul Ryan's budget proposal, blasting him for gutting programs that serve the poor and needy. Their specific criticism was that Ryan's proposals do not "meet moral criteria", and was an unusually strong condemnation. Keep in mind, those same bishops had just blasted the nuns for caring about the poor instead of stopping abortions or same-sex marriage. Alrighty then.

At any rate, Catholics United, an organization dedicated to promoting social justice and welfare issues, called on the Bishops back in March to speak out against the budget, reminding them that their focus should be on "the least of us."

Now we have Bill O'Reilly, who is Catholic, going after Catholics United's executive director claiming that the poor folks will take everything and bankrupt the country. Cry me a river.

Just for the record, Billo has a record of treading softly with some Catholic bishops. There's this interview with Bishop Dolan, where he allows the birth control debate to be framed entirely through the Pope's eyes. Or this rant at the Unitarians for their temerity to challenge the vaunted Bishops.

Nay, nay, forget all of these things and note what Billo himself has written about being Catholic and how that relates to others:

If you cut through all the bull, the doctrines of treating others as you want to be treated, forgiveness and redemption, and charity for all stand the test of time. Even if the atheists are right and there is no God, the philosophy of Jesus is full-force positive. Live the way he lived, and the world will be a better place.

What a nice thought. How pleasant. How humanitarian.

I guess Billo has changed his tune about caring for the least of us, and living like Jesus lived, because I never once heard Jesus say what Billo said tonight. After pushing Mr. Salt about all of the reasons it's awful for the government to care for the poor, he comes out with his own particular brand of self-destiny philosophy, and lays down this challenge.

O'REILLY: ...every poor person in America, I'd like to bring them in here and analyze the situation and tell you why they're poor.

They drop out of school. They get addicted to alcohol or drugs. They have a mental problem, an emotional problem that's untreated.

There's always a reason in this country, Mr. Salt.

I also appreciated the irony of Mr. Salt's retort:

All I want to say is that if Paul Ryan lived in poverty, crushing poverty, paycheck to paycheck, and had to decide whether to put gas in the gas tank or food on the table we wouldn't be having this debate.

Respectfully, Mr. Salt, Paul Ryan has faced that situation. Only one thing stood between Paul Ryan and crushing poverty: Social Security Survivors' Benefits, a government program that allowed him to finish high school and go to college.

To Bill O'Reilly, the sudden death of Paul Ryan's father from a heart attack when he was still in high school is different for some unspecified reason. We don't know if Ryan's mother thought about applying for food stamp assistance or not, but we do know that those survivors' benefits kept their family from losing their home and also kept Ryan in school when he could easily have quit and gone to work slinging burgers or something to keep the family afloat.

Because somehow in Bill O'Reilly's twisted mind, the only people who live in poverty bring it on themselves and are therefore unworthy of assistance, government or otherwise.

This is not an attitude I recognize as being patriotic, religious, or particularly human. Billo should be ashamed, but he doesn't know how to be.

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