Earlier today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) spoke to a half-full Gaston Hall defending the Catholic community’s criticism of his budget. Halfway through the lecture, ten students from GU Occupy unfurled a banner from the upper balcony that read: “Stop the war on the poor. No social justice in Ryan’s budget.” The protestors were approached by security officers but not removed from the event.
Over 90 Georgetown faculty and administrators sent a letter on Tuesday to Ryan expressing stern disapproval of the budget’s plans to cut antipoverty and social welfare programs. Ryan’s response? “Some Catholics think they have a monopoly on Catholic social teaching.”
Ryan went on to respond to claims that his budget hurts America’s impoverished by arguing that “the overarching threat to our society is our spiraling government debt.” He added that cutting social programs and assistance to the poor would in fact reduce poverty.
After the event, GU Occupy joined Washington-based group Catholics United in a demonstration of twenty people stood across Gaston Hall on Copley Lawn with another banner. The protest included singing and a theatrical reading of a document the activists dubbed “the Gospel of the Rich.”
James Salt, Executive Director of Catholics United, said the real world impacts of Ryan’s budget were left out of the speech. “He hasn’t studied the Gospels,” Salt said. “He didn’t talk about the actual effects of his policies on those who are suffering. What’s lost today is the dignity of the mother of three on welfare…if Paul Ryan knew what poverty was we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
With a dose of patriotism, Ryan said during the lecture that “no one ever got rich betting against the United States.” Despite this, many members of Georgetown’s Catholic community remain concerned about the potentially devastating effects Ryan’s budget will have on the marginalized segments of American society.
Reporting by Gavin Bade
Photo: Gavin Bade