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Ohio Catholic Leaders to Boehner: Listen to Catholic Church, Not Tea Party

July 28, 2011, 1:02 pm | Posted by John Gehring

boehnercatholic.jpgA day after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized the House GOP’s debt plan, more than 70 Catholic priests, sisters, theologians and social justice leaders from Speaker John Boehner’s home state of Ohio urged him to listen to his Church, not the Tea Party. Their statement said in part:

As one of the most powerful Catholics in Congress, you are now faced with a monumental choice. You can heed the consistent moral calls from Catholic leaders who have urged lawmakers to decrease our debt fairly and protect the most vulnerable, or you can yield to growing political pressure from Tea Party Republicans willing to accept catastrophic default for the first time in our nation’s history. This is a stark choice between responsible leadership that serves the common good and narrow ideology that makes tax cuts for the wealthy our most sacred national priority. As Ohio Catholics, we urge you to reject the reckless path urged by many Tea Party leaders in Congress. Now is the time to seek a compromise that reflects the Catholic values of solidarity with the most vulnerable and prudential judgment.

They go on to describe the “unacceptable consequences” of default, including putting at risk Social Security benefits, active-duty military pay and nutrition assistance for low-income pregnant women.

Speaker Boehner has faced a consistent drumbeat of opposition from Catholic leaders in recent months for pushing budget cuts that clash with Catholic social justice teachings. In May, professors and theologians from the Catholic University in America in Washington and other Catholic colleges across the country blasted Boehner before his commencement address at Catholic University, describing his voting record on programs that help the poor as “among the worst in Congress.”

It’s usually Democrats who feel the heat from Catholic leaders on the abortion issue. This broad and unyielding moral opposition to the Gilded Age economic views of a high-profile Catholic political leader signals a growing awareness that the Catholic voice in public life is not limited to a few culture war issues.

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