Paul Ryan Dismisses USCCB Criticism: “These are not all the Catholic bishops” UPDATE: USCCB Responds
Yesterday, Speaker Boehner was asked directly about the issue, and this morning on Fox News, Rep. Ryan got his own chance to respond. Unfortunately, instead of addressing the concerns directly, Ryan tried to downplay the severity of the critique, dismissing the letters as not representing the consensus position of U.S. bishops.
RYAN: Um, these are not all the Catholic bishops, and we just respectfully disagree.
Ryan’s response comes only a week after his failed justification of his budget with Catholic theology. While it’s nice to hear him finally admit that he disagrees with the Church on this issue, his caveat falls flat.
The authors of the letters, Bishops Blaire and Pates, weren’t speaking as individuals. They wrote in their official capacity as chairmen of the USCCB’s Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively. Their views are rooted in a long history of Catholic social teaching on these issues and do represent the official position of the Church.
If Ryan has heard differently from other American prelates, he should tell us. In the absence of any specifics, it’s pretty audacious for him to simply dismiss this urgent warning from prominent Catholic Church leaders.
UPDATE: The Bishops have responded to Ryan’s comments, shooting down his argument that the letters aren’t representative. In statements to both The Hill‘s Jonathan Easley and TPM‘s Brian Beutler, USCCB spokesman Don Clemmer clarified:
“Bishops who chair USCCB committees are elected by their fellow bishops to represent all of the U.S. bishops on key issues at the national level,” Clemmer said. “The letters on the budget were written by bishops serving in this capacity.”