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Wisconsin Catholic Bishop Contradicts USCCB to Support Paul Ryan

June 25, 2012, 7:06 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

For a second time, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin has expressed praise of Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP Congressman beleagured by persistent Catholic criticism of his radical budget proposal and his poor theological justifications for it.

As before, Morlino made the comments in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo. While claiming that he doesn’t have to “approve” of the particulars Ryan’s budget, Bishop Morlino praised the Congressman’s “approach” as responsible and “in accordance with Catholic principles.” He also threw in some harsh words for the Nuns on a Bus tour while he’s at it:

MORLINO: Congressman Ryan has made his prudential judgment about how best to serve the long-term needs of the poor. He has done that in accord with Catholic principles. I don’t have to approve his decision or his budget or anything else. What I do approve of is that he is a responsible Catholic layman who understands his mission and carries it out very responsibly. I feel very strongly about that. The details of his solution are not mine to approve or disapprove, that’s not my field.

I would think that the religious sisters though should concentrate on giving that witness of holiness of all the wonderful works that they do, rather than busing around for political issues…There are many Catholics who feel that way about the sisters, they really don’t like this. Their expectation from the sisters is really not this kind of leadership.

While Bishop Morlino might not think judging the actual budget proposal is his field, his fellow bishops on the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development (whose job is to do just that) already have, and they found it severely misguided.

Committee Chairmen Blaire and Pates have pointed out that Ryan’s basic approach is to make deep cuts in programs that protect the most vulnerable while protecting all military programs and spending even more money on tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

It’s this fundamental imbalance that has led them to describe Ryan’s budget as failing “a basic moral test.” Since that characterization applies to the budget on a broad principled level, not even the guise of “prudential judgment” can excuse Ryan’s approach as responsible.

Morlino’s comments, then, put him at direct odds with the USCCB’s own leaders on this issue, spokesmen whom the conference have specifically reiterated “do represent all the U.S. bishops.”

One Response to “Wisconsin Catholic Bishop Contradicts USCCB to Support Paul Ryan”

  1. E.D. says:

    In fact, Bishop Morlino has true authority over his diocese and to speak on this matter relating to Paul Ryan, a Catholic of the Diocese of Madison. He’s limited himself to speaking about what really is up to him to be able to speak about, that Paul Ryan is a very responsible layman who makes decisions in real accord with Catholic teaching; exactly how Ryan applies it is not really the competence of bishops to opine about. This blog post misunderstands and misrepresents the relationship of bishops with the national bishops’ conference. Bishops govern their dioceses independently (in union with the Pope) and each speak independently. The nature of a national bishops’ conference is not that it has any governing capability that can preempt the authority of a bishop in his own diocese, it is NOT a governing entity over bishops. It is a coordinating body, which in our day also serves as a voice for the bishops nationally. There were in fact multiple bishops who had words of criticism for a USCCB office that had publicly opined against Ryan’s budget plan, it is not their job to take a position on something like that (which is the domain of the laity). In fact Catholics could agree or disagree on that budget. Protecting the life of the unborn and protecting our free exercise of religion, on the other hand, are non negotiable issues for Catholics, which the US bishops are ALL in accord on, really basic for anyone who is a faithful Catholic. Catholics seriously believe people have a right to food and health care, and that we personally have an obligation of service to others and their needs, but do NOT believe there is an obligation to have state-centered provision of these things. In our day, the ways in which that statism can be gravely problematic have been highlighted.