Today on the Iowa conservative radio show “Mickelson in the Morning,” host Jan Mickelson had on Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) to talk about the Nuns on the Bus tour and the Ryan budget. Objecting to the tour, Mickelson asked Latham whether he had any power to pull over the bus and “pistol whip” the nuns:
MICKELSON: There’s a bus full of nuns headed towards Washington to lobby against the Ryan plan. Do you guys, do you have any power to pull the Nuns on the Bus over and pistol whip them?
LATHAM: It’s always fun to be on your show [Laughs]
While Congressman Latham doesn’t express outright support for Mickelson’s statement, he seems unfazed by the suggestion and happy to laugh off this grotesque call for violence on women religious. It’s unacceptable for anyone, let alone an elected representative, to tacitly condone suggestions of violence. Rep. Latham should apologize and clarify that he would never support “pistol whipping” religious sisters.
H/T Progress Iowa
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As Simone Campbell explained in an interview this week, one of the purposes of the Nuns on the Bus tour is to respond to Catholic conservatives such as House GOP budget author Paul Ryan, who falsely argued that his radical plan to gut the safety net and slash taxes for millionaires is consistent with Catholic social teaching (and tried to dismiss the bishops when they rebuked him).
But Paul Ryan wasn’t the only Catholic who supported the bill — 58 other Catholic House members voted in favor of it this year, and the nuns are hoping to talk to a few of them. One of those members is Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois, at whose office the bus tour stopped yesterday. Unlike Congressman Ryan, Walsh didn’t try to argue that the budget upholds Catholic teaching — he just admitted he thinks the Church is wrong:
My Catholic teaching tells me that it’s my responsibility to take care of my fellow man,” he said. “That’s not the government’s responsibility. It’s mine. … Oftentimes, the Catholic Church can be misguided on economy and government.
Coming to different conclusions than Church leadership about how to put Catholic moral teachings into practice isn’t unusual for Catholic politicians. Conservative commentators just like to pretend only Democrats do it. It’s refreshing to hear a Catholic Republican acknowledge the disagreement.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr
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Here’s a great news report from Al Jazeera highlighting the Nuns on the Bus tour’s visit to Rep. Ryan’s office in Janesville, Wisconsin and their enthusiastic welcome.
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U.S. Catholic has an interview with Stephen Schneck, Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America about Catholicism in politics, economic justice, and helping the poor:
Why is poverty an issue Catholics should be concerned about?
I’ve been blessed with a real perspective on the level of need in America, with the poverty that’s out there. I actually know people who are poor. I know how they’re struggling and how they’re looking for work. I know how they’re embarrassed to go on public assistance or embarrassed to be at a grocery store paying for their kids’ Rice Krispies with food stamps.
I challenge people to think about their neighbors, their friends, and the people down the block who are truly down and out, who require some help to put food on the table for their kids. I challenge any Catholic to honestly be able to say we should cut food stamps and use that money to reduce taxation when looking for a solution to a real person’s problems.
When you see people who are struggling in the context of their daily lives, trying to make ends meet, trying to find a way to get out of that situation, then I think you realize that these safety nets are fundamentally important.
Read the whole thing here
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Not Backing Down
Someone recently described Catholic sisters as having “a spine of steel and a compassionate heart.” I can think of no better description for women who selflessly dedicate their lives to the most vulnerable while confronting injustice.
Embroiled in a tense dispute with the Vatican and U.S. bishops over promoting “radical feminist themes,” the sisters are not backing down. On the contrary, they are launching a nationwide bus tour to assert their Gospel-driven mission by standing up for the poor and speaking out against Rep. Paul Ryan’s reckless budget proposal. Traveling to social service agencies, soup kitchens, and health clinics run by Catholic sisters, the bus tour will highlight nuns’ contributions to the common good and call for a more faithful budget proposal.
The Bishops Agree
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agrees with the sisters’ message of economic justice. They have repeatedly warned Congress not to slash food stamps, social services block grants, the child tax credit and other vital programs targeted in the House Republican budget. In their guidance to lawmakers, bishops have stated: “The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.” Rep. Ryan has dismissed these concerns and continues to insist that a disproportionate share of cuts must come from programs that serve lower-income Americans even as the wealthy are coddled with more tax breaks.
Will the Bishops Get on Board?
Part of the Catholic sisters’ strategy, then, is to encourage the bishops to use their megaphone and the bus tour opportunity to speak out more boldly against the Ryan budget. They plan to invite bishops whose dioceses they pass through to join them at events. But given that the bishops are dedicating enormous resources during that same time towards their “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign to protest the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, that plea may fall on deaf ears. In fact, the bishops’ overheated rhetoric has caused many to ask whether that campaign is just a thinly veiled partisan effort in an election year. It’s even causing some backlash among Catholics in the pews.
As the political courtship of Catholic voters heats up in this contentious election year, Catholic sisters are remaining true to their mission and elevating our values debate. I’m grateful for their courage and persistence.
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