If the news media is correct, Mitt Romney will name Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate this morning. I have to say, I for one am pleased for two reasons. First, as a conservative, I think the addition of Ryan will solidify the Republican ticket's positions on the economy and on social issues. Secondly--and in many ways most importantly--Ryan will have a platform from which to explain an application of Catholic Social Teaching that gets very little coverage in the mainstream secularist media.
The recent George Soros funded "Nuns on the Bus" tour was touted as a Catholic protest against Ryan's proposed FY 2013 Budget. To the media--and to many Catholics--there is only one brand of Catholic Social Teaching. That is the one that looks to big government programs to solve problems of poverty; one that puts economic justice ahead of the sanctity of life; and one that owes more to Karl Marx than the Magisterium.
But there is another approach, one that is equally valid, and one that takes the traditions of Catholic Social Teachings seriously. And that is the approach taken by Ryan. He explained this in an April speech at Georgetown University. There, in the face of a letter signed by 90 professors and alumni criticising him and his budget, Ryan made a vigorous defense of his positions:
The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it. What I have to say about the social doctrine of the Church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding to the problems of the day.
Serious problems like those we face today require charitable conversation. Civil public dialogue goes to the heart of solidarity, the virtue that does not divide society into classes and groups but builds up the common good of all.
The overarching threat to our whole society today is the exploding federal debt. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has charged that governments, communities, and individuals running up high debt levels are “living at the expense of future generations” and “living in untruth.”
We in this country still have a window of time before a debt-fueled economic crisis becomes inevitable. We can still take control before our own needy suffer the fate of Greece. How we do this is a question for prudential judgment, about which people of good will can differ...
Simply put, I do not believe that the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government.
Look at the results of the government-centered approach to the war on poverty. One in six Americans are in poverty today– the highest rate in a generation. In this war on poverty, poverty is winning. We need a better approach.
To me, this approach should be based on the twin virtues of solidarity and subsidiarity–virtues that, when taken together, revitalize civil society instead of displacing it.
Government is one word for things we do together. But it is not the only word. We are a nation that prides itself on looking out for one another– and government has an important role to play in that. But relying on distant government bureaucracies to lead this effort just hasn’t worked.You can read the entire speech here. Here is a video of the speech:
So a debate between the Catholic Ryan and the "Catholic" Vice President Biden will not only be over two approaches to the problems of our country; it will also be over two paths for the Church in America.