An article recently published in the Washington Post called into question the devotion of Speaker of the House John Boehner to his Catholic faith. Of itself, a suggestion that a politician is not genuinely pious is not news and is likely closer to home than the subject would like to admit. Few people are as committed to the tenets of their faith as they would like to be, and politicians are no different.
The piece in question described an open letter
written by Catholic professors to Boehner specifically challenging his Catholicism. Published by the National Catholic Register
, an excerpt from the letter adequately conveys the general tone of the missive:
Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings. 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. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.
The 2012 budget you shepherded to passage in the House of Representatives guts long-established protections for the most vulnerable members of society. It is particularly cruel to pregnant women and children, gutting Maternal and Child Health grants and slashing $500 million from the highly successful Women Infants and Children nutrition program. When they graduate from WIC at age 5, these children will face a 20% cut in food stamps. The House budget radically cuts Medicaid and effectively ends Medicare. It invokes the deficit to justify visiting such hardship upon the vulnerable, while it carves out $3 trillion in new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. In a letter speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop Howard Hubbard detailed the anti-life implications of this budget in regard to its impact on poor and vulnerable American citizens.
A reader would distil from this letter that Congressman Boehner’s sin is to reduce the size of the government through the cutting of “entitlements.” These reductions, say the academics, hurt the poor and Jesus taught that we must care for the poor. That is to say, applying the algebra of alms to the government and to religion, these professors postulate the following equation: Jesus commanded his followers to care for the poor; Medicare and Medicaid provide health care to the poor; therefore, if a politician decreases the amount of the benefits paid under those programs, he is disobeying the Lord and thus is not a good Catholic.
A logical corollary to that postulate would be that any attempt to dismantle the welfare state is patently, unforgivably, unquestionably, unCatholic.
Incidentally, while the good professors have a handle on the part of the Bible wherein Jesus calls on Christians to care for the poor (they quote Matthew 25:45, the Lord’s instruction to his disciples to care “for the least of these”), they have apparently overlooked an earlier chapter in Matthew’s gospel warning believers to “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1).
Looking down to the signatures below the letter, there is something more to be learned about the true message than could ever be gleaned from the body.
The first signatory is Stephen F. Schneck, Director, Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, The Catholic University of America. There is another résumé entry that Schneck neglected to add under his name. He is a board member of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Now that’s a curious association and one wisely left off the letter to John Boehner. The CACG was founded to promote “the fullness of the Catholic social tradition in the social square.” Fair enough. A substantial sum of money used to fund this mission came from the Open Society Institute. The Open Society Institute is a grant-making foundation created in 1993 by George Soros.
Those connections present a new equation demonstrative of the transitive property of progressive politics: A group of Catholic academics sent a letter to the Speaker of the House condemning him for harming the poor through his proposals to cut the budget; the first name on the list of authors of the letter is Stephen Schneck; Stephen Schneck is a member of the Board of the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good was funded with a grant from the Open Society Institute; the Open Society Institute is the creation of George Soros; and George Soros is an avowed atheist. Should we trust the opinion of the wolves on the quality of the wool?
Another relevant factor: the former executive director of the CACG, Alexia Kelley, now works for the Obama administration as the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
In an article
published by Accuracy in Media, a few of Ms. Kelley’s decisions during her tenure as executive director of CACG wer highlighted:
Kelley, when she ran Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, was a participant in a news conference to complain that Catholics in favor of “the Catholic social tradition” of social justice have not gotten as much press coverage as conservative religious activists. The news conference was timed to coincide with the release of a report, “Left Behind,” issued by the Soros-funded Media Matters organization.
In an irony that cannot be ignored, the CACG itself has come under fire
from fellow Catholics for being “fake Catholics” and for working to undermine the church’s position on key social issues (abortion and homosexuality, for example).
Schneck’s recent hosting of “two socialists on the CUA [Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.] campus at a one-sided forum on how and why the Catholic Church should be promoting liberal and pro-union social policies” is decidedly contrary to the long-established opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to the principles of socialism. The encyclical
written by Pope Leo XIII proclaiming the official stance of the Church was issued 120 years ago. Paragraph Four of that “Rerum Novarum” plainly encapsulates the problem with the socialist answer to the economic ills that have always plagued human society. It reads:
To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man's envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community.
A social engineer as committed to shaping society to fit his own fancy as is Professor Schneck would never be dissuaded by mere declarations from the Bishop of Rome, however.
As recorded in the Accuracy in Media article:
Hiding behind the mantle of being an academic and a professor, Schneck, director of CUA’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies (IPR), makes no secret of his anti-conservative views on many social issues. He was the host of a recent CUA event featuring socialist John Sweeney, former President of the AFL-CIO, who argued that Jesus Christ was pro-union.
Another speaker at Schneck’s conference, attended by representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, a vice-chair of Democratic Socialists of America who offered his mentor, socialist Michael Harrington, a Catholic-turned-atheist, as an example for others to follow.
Therefore, an illuminating lesson can be learned from the letter criticizing John Boehner’s Catholic bona fides and it is also found in the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."