Georgetown faculty and administrators release letter to Rep. Paul Ryan deploring budget

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.

Photo: Flickr

17 Comments on “Georgetown faculty and administrators release letter to Rep. Paul Ryan deploring budget

  1. 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    Mt 25

  2. I love how Georgetown gets uber-Catholic whenever the question of funding further benefits comes into question, but the concerned Catholics are by and large silent on the question of contraception. Cafeteria Catholics ahoy!

  3. Well I’m definitely sure they don’t approve of pirates…

  4. Why, oh why do people care so much about pills and rubber? The debate itself is so freaking anachronistic, and can people really get behind a Jesus whose moral imagination was as equally concerned with Trojan Magnum Ecstasies as with the underfed masses?

  5. Exactly what I was thinking. An even easier example would be that when a pro-choice politician comes to campus, the faculty don’t have a similar reaction. This sets a precedent that Georgetown only cares about certain Catholic issues, which is exactly what they criticize Rep. Ryan for.

    Also, it’s funny to me that of the 90 cosignatories of the letter, not a single one was in the department of Economics.

  6. This is not about whether or not someone’s views are in line with Catholic Social Teaching. This is about someone (Paul Ryan) who is claiming that his policies are, when they, in fact, are not. Good for the faculty!

  7. How dare these faculty members presume to speak for the University. True concern for one’s fellow man cannot be accomplished simply by checking off a box on a tax form and letting the government do the rest – Christ’s message is that we must actively care for the vulnerable by taking action as individuals. This means private charity, not perpetuating the welfare state by trapping the poor in a vicious cycle of government handouts. These faculty members are such close-minded Statists that they cannot even imagine the concept of charity outside of the government. I am proud to attend this University, but this letter adds shame to the Georgetown name.

  8. Georgetown is a Catholic university, and therefore should have policies in line with Catholic Social Teaching. If you’re aiming to argue that the faculty need not share the opinions of the Catholic Church, then you’re totally right – but that also means that they shouldn’t attach the university’s name to their personal opinions, as it purports the idea that they speak for the university.

  9. Thank you!
    I hope that this thinking prevails in all Jesuit Universities.
    Emily Patch, Seattle University 1962

  10. Are you really so attached to your warped ideology that you will not actually step out of it for a second to adopt common sense (as your name would indicate…), realising that any way to help the poor is accepted by ‘Christ’s message’? If you really cared about the well-being of the poor, you would not care about where help and solidarity comes from as long as the poor were enabled and empowered to escape their destitute situation (an often systemic phenomenon derived from their marginalisation from society anyway). And if you truly believed in the teachings of Christ and those of the Church, you would know that they place the equal distribution of wealth or, actually, the distribution of wealth in proportion to those that need it most over an unfair system of property that places the individual above all else, assuming ‘I worked for it so it is mine and I can do whatever the f*ck I want with it’.
    Your argument is not about ‘trapping the poor in a vicious cycle of government handouts’, a paternalistic assumption that assumes laziness, stupidity, and inferiority by the way, but about limiting the power of the state because you think you’re so great, you so deserve everything you’ve been given/worked for (*all that you have is completely contingent on the environment you grew up in, no (wo)man is truly 100% self-made).
    Maybe you personally would give a nominal amount to a private charity, but let me assure you that most people in a mindset like yours, if given the chance to keep most of their money or give it to the poor, they would keep it for themselves. Your ideology is fundamentally rooted in the extreme of individualism, and that is in selfishness. It is incompatible with true charity, because it advocates one’s own self-interest over the interests of others, including the most vulnerable. Thus, you cannot plausibly hold your ideology while simultaneously holding what I assume is your Christian, probably Catholic, religious beliefs or, if not, even a shred of consideration for the rest of humanity i.e. not you.

  11. @@Common Sense

    I’m guessing you’re someone who gets really angry at bumper stickers.

  12. I am pleased see Georgetown faculty strip away Paul Ryan’s purposeful misuse of Catholic doctrine to justify austerity at the expense of those least able to tolerate it. The Church does best when it lives up to and encourages the Beattitudes in public policy and private lives. The poor lead more tolerable lives in the wake of Franciscans and even occasionally Jusuits. Thank you Fr. Reese.

  13. Or someone who engages in intellectual discussion…

  14. Private charity has never taken care of all of the needs of poor people in this country. Only a nation state can fairly handle that. The Common Good requires that the people pay taxes which provide for all the services required to run a country. It’s a no-brainer. Every social encyclical in the Roman Catholic Church from Leo XXIII to the present Pope addresses the responsibility of conscientious government to address the legitimate needs of its people. The problem with current Republican policies is that they want to go back to the 19th Century of Robber Barons. Their view of the poor are inferior folks who couldn’t make it so let’s be nice people and drop a few bills in the collection basket. Selfishness likes to feel good with small gifts. It has become an ideology… a way of rationalizing greed. Thank you, Georgetown, a proud Jesuit University, for faculty that have Catholic social consciences, and the intelligence to back it up. Thank you, Tom Reese S.J. for your leadership.

  15. Fortunately, no one really cares what the Georgetown faculty says. Their effect on anything is fleeting and minimal.

  16. GTown has just announced pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius as a graduation speaker. I invite those same 90 scholars who excoriated Ryan to provide an even more vehement objection to her invitation and demand it be rescinded. (…crickets….chirp….chirp…)

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