Congressman Paul Ryan Defends Budget, Governing Vision, with Catholic Social Doctrine
The truths are true for all people and for all time. The Church calls us to offer them as leaven to be worked into the loaf of human culture
Principles in Catholic Social Doctrine require the exercise of prudential judgment in their application. Agree or disagree with Congressman Ryan's exercise of his prudential judgment - and his proposed legislative solutions to the fiscal crisis- he has done what a Catholic in public service should do with the Social Doctrine of the Church.Let the debate begin.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - In June of 2011 then Archbishop (now Cardinal) Timothy Dolan, the President of the US Bishops Conference, and a Conservative Catholic Congressman named Paul Ryan exchanged letters which will most certainly have an impact in the upcoming 2012 Presidential race.
Paul Ryan is articulate, intelligent and controversial. He is also considered one of the most probable among the possible Vice Presidential nominees on the Republican ticket. He recently submitted the "Path to Prosperity Budget" which was approved by the House and became fodder for the Obama reelection campaign.
The political wordsmiths are again trying to lay claim to that field of moral theology referred to as "Catholic Social Doctrine" as the 2012 campaign for the US Presidency begins in earnest. Prior to 2004 the phrase "Social Teaching" of the Catholic Church referred to the teachings rooted in the Sacred Scriptures, expounded upon in the Christian tradition, developed in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, explained within a contemporary series of encyclical letters, apostolic letters and exhortations, and summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Sadly, many people had not read these sources. So, what claimed to be the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church was too often the "spin" of self styled "experts" with political agendas. Very often those agendas would be characterized as "left" or "liberal" within common political parlance.
Then on April 2, 2004, the Memorial of Saint Francis of Paola, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the "Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace" released the "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of Church."
The social doctrine confronts what Pope Benedict properly called the "Dictatorship of Relativism" even before he assumed the Papal office. It insists there are unchangeable truths which are revealed by the Natural Law, can be known through the exercise of reason and should inform the social order in every just society.
At the foundation of those truths is the dignity of every human person at every age and stage. To be Pro-Life is NOT simply to be "single issue" in your political positions, it is about a world view. It is the dignity of the human person which requires a respect for every human life whether that life be in the first home of the womb, a wheelchair, a jail cell, a hospital room, a hospice, a senior center or a soup kitchen.
Another one of these truths is that marriage is between one man and one woman, intended for life, and ordered toward the bearing and raising of children in the family. Marriage is not some social construct which can be redefined by courts or legislatures. It is the foundation for family and family is the first society, first church, first school, first economy, first government and first mediating institution. The first community which humanizes and civilizes all of us is the family.
Another, is that all human persons created in the Image of God are created for relationship and called to human community. We can never fully experience human flourishing outside of social relationships. These relationships are perfective of our human person because we are by nature - and grace - made for these relationships. Catholic Social Thought does not begin with the individual but with the family. The social doctrine affirms our obligation in solidarity to one another. We are our brother/sister's keeper.
The social doctrine rejects a notion of "freedom" which begins and ends with the isolated, atomistic, person as the measure of its application. Authentic human freedom must be exercised within a moral constitution. We will only grow in freedom when we choose what is good and what is true. Otherwise "freedom" becomes a counterfeit and enslaves us, as individuals and as nations.
The social doctrine offers principles to help us order our economies. It does not propose any particular economic theory. It insists that every economic order be at the service of the human person, human freedom, human flourishing and the family. We are to give a love of preference to the poor, recognizing our solidarity with them. However, this call to solidarity is to be applied through the application of the principle of subsidiarity, rejecting all forms of dehumanizing collectivism, either of the left or the right.
The market economy has been affirmed in recent social teaching - when properly understood and morally structured. However, the Catholic Church stood against the materialism of the atheistic Marxist system and now properly cautions Nations which have adopted a form of liberal capitalism of the dangers of "economism" or materialism which promotes the use of persons as products and fails to recognize the value of being over acquiring.
The truths and principles contained within Catholic social doctrine are not merely ...
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