As I have expressed in the past, authentically Catholic and genuinely Pro-Life, Paul Ryan not only knows Catholic Social Doctrine, he maintains that he actively seeks to integrate the principles it offers into his own public service and the policy proposals he offers
Ryan's opponents efforts to demonize him and think they can deflect the American public from listening to his considered positions on the vital issues and challenges we face as a Nation will not only fail, I now believe they will backfire. Ryan's demeanor is warm, human and real - a refreshing change in a political atmosphere polluted with vitriol, vapid detraction and denigration. He lifts up the listener while he speaks truth to a Nation struggling through a desperate hour. He gives the listener hope that they, with good and effective leadership, can actually rebuild the American promise and re-secure the American dream for their children. In short, he dispenses hope in an hour when it is in short supply.
TAMPA, FL (Catholic Online) - On the 13th of August, after returning from the Rally in Norfolk, Virginia where Mitt Romney introduced Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate, I wrote an article entitled "Romney Goes Bold: Pro-Life Catholic Paul Ryan Chosen as Republican Vice Presidential Candidate."
I made clear I was writing that article as a private citizen. I once again make that clear as I write this article. I opined that I thought the choice of Paul Ryan demonstrated that Mitt Romney was willing to make bold decisions in the interest of tackling a serious crisis in this Nation. I underscore that after having just heard one of the finest political convention speeches I have heard in many years.
On the 13th of August I wrote, "I believe Mitt Romney is correct in his assessment of this gifted man. He is a talented public servant, a truly good family man, a faithful, genuinely Pro-Life Catholic and, as I found out today, much, much more. This man is a tremendous communicator. I have never heard him speak in public and I was truly impressed."
"When Governor Romney called Congressman Ryan up to the podium, he mistakenly referred to him as "the next President of the United States". He quickly returned to correct the gaffe. However, as Congressman Ryan spoke, I actually wondered if the mistake may someday prove to have been accurate. Ryan's sincerity, down to earth demeanor, warmth and believability reminded me of a young Ronald Reagan. This man is a gifted communicator. The first decision made by the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, was bold and brilliant." (Read the Catholic Online Exclusive Interview with 'Catholics call to Witness - Test of 'Fire'
On Wednesday, August 29, 2012, Paul Ryan accepted his party's nomination as their candidate for the Vice presidency of the United States. He gave an acceptance speech which not only reconfirmed my past assessment but upped the ante. His speech electrified the convention and established him as a force for the future in the American political scene.
I also believe that speech sent shock waves into the Obama-Biden Camp. Anyone who watched that well delivered speech - and witnessed this man's capacity to articulate his positions clearly, compellingly and cogently - while inspiring his listeners and drawing such rounds of appaluse- will, along with me, welcome the upcoming Vice Presidential debate between he and Vice President Joe Biden. This so called "wonk" is also a formidable political weapon. This debate will be one for the history books!
Ryan's opponents efforts to demonize him and think they can deflect the American public from listening to his considered positions on the vital issues and challenges we face as a Nation will not only fail, I now believe they will backfire. Ryan's demeanor is warm, human and real - a refreshing change in a political atmosphere polluted with vitriol, vapid detraction and denigration.
He lifts up the listener while he speaks truth to a Nation struggling through a desperate hour. He gives the listener hope that they, with good and effective leadership, can actually rebuild the American promise and re-secure the American dream for their children. In short, he dispenses hope in an hour when it is in short supply. That was one fantastic speech.
As I have expressed in the past, authentically Catholic and genuinely Pro-Life, Paul Ryan not only knows Catholic Social Doctrine, he maintains that he actively seeks to integrate the principles it offers into his own public service and the policy proposals he offers. His ability to do just that over the coming weeks will shake up the Catholic discussion over what truly furthers the common good in the social arena. It needs to be shaken up.
However, I hope it will do much more. I hope it will take these principles out of the rarified academic debates in which they do little practical good and offer them as yeast for the loaf of American culture. I hope it will wrest these principles from the camp of the political leftists who have wrongfully used them as proof-texts for their social engineering efforts.
I also hope it will insert these principles into the policy considerations of those on the right who teeter on the brink of losing an authentic humanism which affirms the primacy of the person, the family and the common good as they rush toward ideologies which fail to place the human person at the center of all considerations. That is because the principles offered by that body of thought called Catholic social teaching are neither left nor right. They are truly human and will help us in our efforts to build a truly just and human society together.
The principles contained with Catholic Social thought require the exercise of prudential judgment in their application. Agree or disagree with Paul Ryan's exercise of his prudential judgment - and his proposed legislative solutions to the current fiscal crisis- he does exactly what a Catholic in public service should do with the Social Doctrine of the Church.
The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church 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 these truths is the dignity of every human person at every age and stage. To be Pro-Life is NOT to be "single issue" in your political positions; it is about having 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 "religious" positions, in the sense that only religious people need assent to them. They are revealed by the Natural Law and can be known through the exercise of reason. 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.
The principles of Catholic Social Teaching and their application have entered the 2012 campaign in the person of Paul Ryan. He is a gifted young candidate unlike any we have seen run for public office in this Nation for a very long time. Ryan roared in that acceptance speech at the Republican convention. That speech and this candidate will frame the upcoming U.S. Presidential election.