Posts Tagged “Thomas Reese”
Over 90 Georgetown faculty and administrators signed a letter criticizing Rep. Paul Ryan‘s (R-Wisc.) budget plan, which cuts antipoverty programs and undermines social welfare programs. The faculty disagrees with Ryan’s claims that the budget is inspired by Catholic moral teachings. The letter was released earlier today.
Ryan, Republican chairman of the House Budget, is scheduled to give the Whittington Lecture at Gaston Hall this Thursday. In the letter, the faculty and administrators emphasized that the intent was not to stop him from speaking at Georgetown, but merely to raise a significant concern about the “devastating consequences” of Ryan’s budget.
The scholars pointed specifically to the budget’s un-Catholic ideals:
In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.
Among the signatories of the letter were Thomas J. Reese and Father Raymond B. Kemp, senior fellows of the Woodstock Theological Center. Others included several Jesuit priests and professors from the Theology, Government, History, and Philosophy departments as well as the School of Foreign Service and School of Nursing & Health Studies.
Ryan’s budget includes cuts which the letter argues will make it difficult for low-income families to gain access to higher-level education at colleges and universities like Georgetown. The letter also included a copy of the Vatican’s Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, “to help deepen your understanding of Catholic social teaching.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also sent letters to members of Congress, including Ryan, with the same message. So far, Ryan’s response has indicated that he does not see these criticisms as representative of the entire Catholic community of bishops.
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Yesterday, the National Catholic Reporter published an open letter signed by academics at several U.S. Catholic colleges that chastises cuts to social services proposed by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner as out of line with Catholic social teaching.
The letter, which comes as Boehner is due to give the commencement address at the Catholic University of America on Saturday, carries the signature of Georgetown’s own Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Library.
“His budget proposals give tax cuts for the wealthy while cutting programs that help the most
venerable vulnerable,” Reese said. “While I recognize the necessity of reducing our deficits in the long-term, this should not be done on the backs of the poor. All Americans must sacrifice.”
Stephen Schneck, director for the Institute of Policy Research & Catholic Studies at Catholic University, led the effort to draft the message to Boehner and reached out to Reese to as a friend and colleague at Georgetown. However, Reese did not ask other University faculty to sign on so as not the give the impression that the effort was an attack on Catholic University’s academic freedom.
The letter calls for a “circle of protection” around programs such as Women Infants and Children, food stamps, and Medicaid, which face cumulatively face over $1 trillion in cuts. Meanwhile, the signatories slam Boehner for tax cuts that will cost over $3 trillion in lost revenue over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter reads. “From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor.”
Photo: Woodstock Theological Library
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As news outlets, led by the New York Times, offer more and more evidence that Pope Benedict XVI did not take allegations of abuse by Catholic priests seriously enough, papal defenders are beginning to mount their rebuttal.
On Wednesday, March 31, around the same time that the Pope began discussing the allegations, which he dismissed as “petty gossip,” Senior Research Fellow Thomas Reese of Georgetown’s Woodstock Theological Center wrote a post for the Washington Post blog “On Faith” in which he stands up for Benedict.
When confronted with evidence of clerical abuse, Benedict XVI, he writes, “got it faster than other Vatican officials, including Pope John Paul II.” He goes on to say that Benedict has shown compassion for victims and supported zero tolerance for abusers in the past, and probably should not resign, as that would represent a step backwards for the Church.
Here’s the text of his post:
“Like most bishops, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI, did not understand the sexual abuse crisis when it first appeared. He underestimated its extent and scope.
But over time, he grew in understanding as he watched what was happening in the United States and as he learned from reports from the American bishops. He got it faster than other Vatican officials, including Pope John Paul II. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was forced to read the files on these priests when bishops asked for their dismissal from the priesthood.
As a Vatican official, he supported the American bishops when in 2002 they adopted a zero tolerance rule so that no abusive priest could be returned to ministry. He also condemned the abuse and expressed sorrow when he visited the United States in 2008, the high point of which was his meeting with victims of abuse.
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Would you let “that one” speak at your school?
Yesterday, we discussed how Notre Dame’s success in booking Barack Obama to speak at the 2009 Commencement was causing a stir among conservative Catholics. Fr. Schall gave a too-coy response to this issue and so we Madlibbed it.
Now, South Bend news outlets report that Notre Dame is sticking to its guns, and Barack Obama is still slated to be their commencement speaker on May 17. This time, another Georgetown voice is chiming in, Rev. Thomas Reese of the Woodstock Theological Center. He dismisses the controversy and tells Notre Dame to get real:
The Rev. Thomas Reese, a Washington-based Jesuit, said Monday that the “controversy over commencement speakers at Catholic universities pops up every spring along with the tulips.”
He called the uproar over the president’s visit “absurd.”
“If Cardinal Edward Egan of New York can invite Obama to speak at the Al Smith dinner in October of 2008 when he was only a presidential candidate, then there is certainly nothing wrong with Notre Dame having the President speak at a commencement,” said Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.
Menawhile, the criticism won’t quit. Should Domers shut their yaps and be glad they’ve booked the President of the United States to be their commencement speaker? Or are concerns about Obama’s pro-choice and other policies legitimate?
Photo from transplanted mountaineer under a Creative Commons license.
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