National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Catholic Academics Challenge Boehner

Breaking News.
UPDATE: More names have been added to the list of signatories below.

A group of prominent Catholic academics have signed a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, on the occasion of his forthcoming commencement address at the Catholic University of America. I will provide commentary later today, but the letter really speaks for itself, respectfully, clearly and in a way to challenge the Speaker to consider his policies. The letter will be delivered to Boehner's office personally by some of the signatories tomorrow morning.

[Editor's Note: Michael Sean Winter's first reaction is here: Initial Thoughts on Letter to Boehner.]

I will point out that the signatories do not call on Boehner to decline to give his address, nor on CUA to revoke its invitation, as many conservatives called on Notre Dame to revoke its invitation to President Obama in 2009. They understand that a university should be a place where all voices and viewpoints are heard. But, they are well within their right to ask Boehner to explain how his budgetary proposals do, or do not, conform to traditional Catholic social teaching. Here is the text of the letter:

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.

Take a look inside our August 29 edition. Watch now.
screen-shot_FB-video-promo-8-29.jpg

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.

Sincerely,

Stephen F. Schneck
Director, Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

Ken Pennington
Kelly-Quinn Professor of Ecclesiastical and Legal History
The Catholic University of America
School of Canon Law
The Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Karen M. Korol
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies
School of Theology and Religious Studies
Catholic University of America

Rett R. Ludwikowski, Ph.D.
Comparative and International Law Institute
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Patricia C. McMullen, Ph.D., JD, CRNP
Dean
School of Nursing
The Catholic University of America

Kenneth P. Miller, Ph.D, RN, CFNP, FAAN
Associate Dean for Administration
School of Nursing
The Catholic University of America

Timothy J. Meagher
Associate Professor
Department of History
The Catholic University of America

Sr. Ann Patrick Conrad, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Sr. Vincentia Joseph, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Maryann Cusimano Love, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Politics
The Catholic University of America

Stephen McKenna, Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Chair
Department of Media Studies
The Catholic University of America

Linda Plitt Donaldson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Margaret Martin Berry
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Leslie W. Tentler, Ph.D.
Ordinary Professor
Department of History
The Catholic University of America

Rev. Anthony J. Pogorelc, Ph.D.
Fellow
Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

William V. D’Antonio, Ph.D.
Fellow
Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

William Barbieri, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
School of Theology and Religious Studies
The Catholic University of America

Enrique Pumar, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
The Catholic University of America

Joseph J. Shields
Associate Professor
The National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Ellen M. Scully
Assistant Clinical Professor
Columbus Community Legal Services
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Marie J. Raber, MSW, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Associate Dean and MSW Program Chair
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Michaela L. Zajicek-Farber, MSW, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

William D. Dinges, Ph.D.
Ordinary Professor
School of Theology and Religious Studies
The Catholic University of America

William P. Loewe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology
The Catholic University of America

Karlynn BrintzenhofeSzoc, Ph.D., MSW, OSW-C
Associate Professor
Director, Data Management & Outcomes Assessment
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

James A. McCann, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science
Purdue University
Visiting Fellow, Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

Chris Grech
Associate Professor
School of Architecture and Planning
The Catholic University of America

Ernest M. Zampelli, Ph.D.
Ordinary Professor
Department of Business and Economics
The Catholic University of America

David A Lipton
Director, Securities Law Program
School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Murry Sidlin
Professor, School of Music
The Catholic University of America

John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Kristin Suna-Koro, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Jean Lim
Visiting Professor, Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Arthur T. Dewey
Professor of Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Edward P. Hahnenberg, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Vincent J. Miller
Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Una M. Cadegan
Associate Professor, Department of History
University of Dayton

Francis Xavier Doyle
Former Associate General Secretary
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Arturo Chavez, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Mexican American Catholic College

Gary Macy
John Nobili, S.J. Professor of Theology
Santa Clara University

Gerald J. Beyer
Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
Saint Joseph's University

Dr. Eugene J. Halus, Jr.
Associate Professor of Politics
Department of History and Politics
Immaculata University

Kristin Heyer
Associate Professor
Religious Studies
Santa Clara University

Bryan N. Massingale
Associate Professor of Theological Ethics
Marquette University

Dolores L. Christie
CTSA/John Carroll University

Alex Mikulich, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University
New Orleans, LA

Daniel K. Finn
Professor of Theology and Clemens Professor of Economics
St. John’s University
Collegeville, MN

Terrence W. Tilley
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology
Chair, Theology Department
President, Society for Philosophy of Religion
Fordham University, Bronx, NY

Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
Senior Fellow
Woodstock Theological Center
Georgetown University

Bruce T. Morrill, S.J.
Professor, Theology Department
Boston College

Nancy Dallavalle
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies
Fairfield University

Lisa Sowle Cahill
Monan Professor of Theology
Boston College

Bradford Hinze
Professor of Theology
Fordham University

Mary Ann Hinsdale
Associate Professor of Theology
Boston College

Paul Lakeland
Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies
Director, Center for Catholic Studies

Jeannine Hill Fletcher
Associate Professor of Theology
Faculty Director, Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice
Fordham University

Paulette Skiba
Professor of Religious Studies
Clarke University

Dennis M. Doyle
Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Maura Donahue, Ph.D.
Director, Program for Christian Leadership
University of Dayton

Richard R. Gaillardetz
Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies
University of Toledo

Christopher Pramuk
Assistant Professor of Theology
Xavier University

Marie Dennis
Director
Maryknoll Office for Global Concern

Mary Ann Brenden MSW, LICSW
Associate Professor of Social Work
St. Catherine University/University of St. Thomas School of Social Work

Mark Ensalaco, Ph.D.
Director, Human Rights Studies program
University of Dayton

Dr. Marie J. Giblin
Associate Professor
Theology Department
Xavier University

Frank Farrell, Ph.D.
Chair- Liberal Arts Division
Senior Associate Professor, Religion
Manor College

Rev. Joseph Nangle, OFM
Our Lady Queen of Peace
Arlington, VA

Todd Whitmore
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Christine Firer Hinze, Ph.D., B.A, M.A, CUA
Professor of Theology
Director, Francis & Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies
Fordham University

Ed Kelly
Adjunct Professor
University Writing Program
University of Notre Dame

Maria McKenna, Ph.D.
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Africana Studies
University of Notre Dame

Sr. Mary Hughes, OP
President
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Ron Pagnucco
Chairman
Department of Peace Studies
College of St. Benedict/St. John's University

Michael A. Zampelli, SJ
Paul Locatelli, SJ Professor
Department of Theater and Dance
Rector, Santa Clara Jesuit Community
Santa Clara University

John A. Coleman, SJ
Casassa Professor of Social Values, Emeritus
Loyola Marymount University

Jim Hug, S.J.
President
Center of Concern

Lew Daly
Director, Fellows Program
Demos
Author of God’s Economy: Faith-Based Initiatives and the Caring State

John A. Barba
will receive Ph.D. in Historical and Systematic Theology at Catholic University graduation on Saturday

Mary Paterson
Professor, School of Nursing
The Catholic University of America

Héctor Lindo-Fuentes
Professor of History, Fordham University

Douglass Alvarado
Human Services Judge
Minnesota Department of Human Services

Robert A. Krieg
Professor of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Vytenis Gureckas, RA
Associate Professor
School of Architecture and Planning
The Catholic University of America

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

August 29-September 11, 2014

08-29-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.