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Catholic Academics challenge Boehner on voting record on the poor

Jeanie

still nobody's bitch
V.I.P.
Catholic Academics Challenge Boehner | National Catholic Reporter

House Speaker John Boehner will be delivering the commencement address at Catholic University of America Several dozen Catholic Academics have signed the following letter, accusing Boehner of moral indifference to the Church's teachings regarding the poor.

Dear Mr. Speaker,
We congratulate you on the occasion of your commencement address to The Catholic University of America. It is good for Catholic universities to host and engage the thoughts of powerful public figures, even Catholics such as yourself who fail to recognize (whether out of a lack of awareness or dissent) important aspects of Catholic teaching. We write in the hope that this visit will reawaken your familiarity with the teachings of your Church on matters of faith and morals as they relate to governance.


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. In a letter speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop Howard Hubbard detailed the anti-life implications of this budget in regard to its impact on poor and vulnerable American citizens. They explained the Church’s teachings in this regard clearly, insisting that:
A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.
Specifically, addressing your budget, the letter expressed grave concern about changes to Medicaid and Medicare that could leave the elderly and poor without adequate health care. The bishops warned further:
We also fear the human and social costs of substantial cuts to programs that serve families working to escape poverty, especially food and nutrition, child development and education, and affordable housing.
Representing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishops Hubbard and Blaire have now endorsed with other American Christian leaders a call to legislators for a “Circle of Protection” around programs for the poor that you, Mr. Speaker, have imperiled. The statement of these Christian leaders recognizes the need for fiscal responsibility, “but not at the expense of hungry and poor people.” Indeed, it continues, “These choices are economic, political—and moral. As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable people fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up—how it treats those Jesus called ‘the least of these’ (Matthew 25:45).”
Mr. Speaker, we urge you to use the occasion of this year’s commencement at The Catholic University of America to give fullest consideration to the teachings of your Church. We call upon you to join with your bishops and sign on to the “Circle of Protection.” It is your moral duty as a legislator to put the needs of the poor and most vulnerable foremost in your considerations. To assist you in this regard, we enclose a copy of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Published by the Vatican, this is the “catechism” for the Church’s ancient and growing teaching on a just society and Catholic obligations in public life.
Catholic social doctrine is not merely a set of goals to be achieved by whatever means one chooses. It is also a way of proceeding, a set of principles that are derived from the truth of the human person. In Pope Benedict’s words: “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way... the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite.”
We commend to you the Compendium’s discussion of the principles of the common good, the preferential option for the poor, and the interrelationship of subsidiarity and solidarity. Paragraph 355 on tax revenues, solidarity, and support for the vulnerable is particularly relevant to the moment.
Be assured of our prayers for you on this occasion and for your faithful living out of your vocation in public life.
Thoughts?
 
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CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
The only thought about this that I have is I find it funny that people think entitlement programs help the poor and cutting those programs hurts the poor.
 

Jeanie

still nobody's bitch
V.I.P.
If by "help" you mean allow them to have enough food to eat, feed their kids, and have a place to live, then yes they do help.
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
The only thought about this that I have is I find it funny that people think entitlement programs help the poor and cutting those programs hurts the poor.
Can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you don't have access to boots in the first place...but I know this is an argument that's taken place on GF before and it's something we'll have to agree to disagree on. :nod:


Anyway, as a Catholic I'm happy to see this...most of the time I hear of Catholic officials siding with conservatives in an outspoken way. It's nice to hear officials speaking out that echo my view of the Church/politics, I feel more represented by my religion for a change. Being Catholic, or Christian in general, isn't isolated to whether you're pro-life or pro-choice...there are also these crazy things called poverty, the death penalty, war, etc. that get swept under the rug on far too many occasions. I'm especially happy that health care was mentioned.

I also think that this reflects a reality that people forget -

Whether it's religious officials, professors, reporters, etc., peoples' viewpoints are as varied within institutions as they are within the U.S. populous, generally speaking.
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
Can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you don't have access to boots in the first place...but I know this is an argument that's taken place on GF before and it's something we'll have to agree to disagree on. :nod:
\

Really? I didn't have access to "boots" yet got by just fine without entitlement programs.


Anyway, as a Catholic I'm happy to see this...most of the time I hear of Catholic officials siding with conservatives in an outspoken way. It's nice to hear officials speaking out that echo my view of the Church/politics, I feel more represented by my religion for a change. Being Catholic, or Christian in general, isn't isolated to whether you're pro-life or pro-choice...there are also these crazy things called poverty, the death penalty, war, etc. that get swept under the rug on far too many occasions. I'm especially happy that health care was mentioned.

I also think that this reflects a reality that people forget -

Whether it's religious officials, professors, reporters, etc., peoples' viewpoints are as varied within institutions as they are within the U.S. populous, generally speaking.
The problems I have with this are 1) statistically speaking more people are considered poor than prior to all the entitlement programs that have been instituted and 2) the assumption that entitlement programs automatically help and cutting them automatically hurt. I think there is something to the argument that they create a section in society that don't want to work and don't want to advance and instead want to rely on the government. Thus in some instances, they hurt some of the poor.

I don't think anyone is calling for cutting ALL programs, by the way.
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If by "help" you mean allow them to have enough food to eat, feed their kids, and have a place to live, then yes they do help.
No, I mean creating a sense of entitlment rather than relying on themselves.
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Let me put it this way. There is much good gained from these programs, but if I say "I want to cut some of these programs and wean people off relying on the government and make people more self-sufficient" that turns into "you want to hurt poor people" which, for lack of a better word, is the dumbest argument that can be made. That's like saying if I want to stop affirmative action I'm a racist.
 
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Jeanie

still nobody's bitch
V.I.P.
My take on this letter is that it's more about the priorities of the budget - billions in tax cuts yet making budget cuts to programs such as WIC and Medicare, and whether Catholic legislators are truly following the teachings of the Church in their professional actions.

Jesus didn't say "whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me, unless they're just going to take advantage of you."
------
And it's about accountability. Who is Boehner serving with his voting record?
 
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CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
My take on this letter is that it's more about the priorities of the budget - billions in tax cuts yet making budget cuts to programs such as WIC and Medicare, and whether Catholic legislators are truly following the teachings of the Church in their professional actions.

Jesus didn't say "whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me, unless they're just going to take advantage of you."
He also didn't say the government's responsibility is to take care of everyone. That's something we should all do as individuals.
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
My problem is similar to Jeanie's...the government taking care of the rich is just fine - even though "trickle down" economics has proven itself to be nothing more than a myth to me. It's gotten to the point where new things are constantly done for corporations and the top percentage of those holding wealth in the U.S., but we're fighting and clawing for things to stay the same and not be eliminated/cut for those in need.

A lot of people say "let Churches help the poor" or "let individuals help each other" but then many of these same people do nothing themselves. At the same time, they applaud tax cuts to, and special treatment for, the corporations that send work overseas and eliminate some of that opportunity that has made the U.S. so great in the past. It just doesn't make sense to me.
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
My problem is similar to Jeanie's...the government taking care of the rich is just fine - even though "trickle down" economics has proven itself to be nothing more than a myth to me. It's gotten to the point where new things are constantly done for corporations and the top percentage of those holding wealth in the U.S., but we're fighting and clawing for things to stay the same and not be eliminated/cut for those in need.

A lot of people say "let Churches help the poor" or "let individuals help each other" but then many of these same people do nothing themselves. At the same time, they applaud tax cuts to, and special treatment for, the corporations that send work overseas and eliminate some of that opportunity that has made the U.S. so great in the past. It just doesn't make sense to me.
That's fine and I understand that. This is my take 1) as a member of the Knights of Columbus Charity is one of our principles. I believe in helping the poor, the sick, etc...from an individual standpoint. 2) I think the government has a duty to care for it's sick, poor, etc however, there is a limit to how much should be paid for those programs. To want to cut those programs doesn't necessarily translate to wanting to hurt people.
 

Jeanie

still nobody's bitch
V.I.P.
That's fine and I understand that. This is my take 1) as a member of the Knights of Columbus Charity is one of our principles. I believe in helping the poor, the sick, etc...from an individual standpoint. 2) I think the government has a duty to care for it's sick, poor, etc however, there is a limit to how much should be paid for those programs. To want to cut those programs doesn't necessarily translate to wanting to hurt people.
Why is there a limit to how much should be paid for these programs? And if it doesn't translate to wanting to hurt poor people, then it certainly translates to indifference to the plight of the poor and ignorance of the cycle of poverty.
 
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