Memo from Paul Ryan to Georgetown Faculty: Ever Heard of a Tea Party Catholic?
In most cases, Catholic social teaching provides the correct principles for resolving complex social and economic questions, not specific policy requirements. Nathan Shlueter reviews Sam Gregg's new book in the voice of Paul Ryan.
Dear Faculty of Georgetown University,
Thank you for your letter anticipating my Whittington Lecture. I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply. I've been very busy trying to prevent the Affordable Care Act from forcing Catholics to subsidize the killing of unborn children. As you know, the Catholic Church holds that abortion is an "abominable crime" (Gaudium et Spes 51), that laws which allow unborn persons to be killed are "intrinsically unjust," and that Catholic politicians have a grave moral obligation to oppose such laws (Evangelium Vitae 73).
Incidentally, I noticed that the architect of that mandate, Kathleen Sebelius, was your graduation speaker. Since she too claims to be acting on behalf of Catholic social teaching, I assumed that you would also send her a public letter "challenging her continuing misuse of Catholic teaching." But I can't seem to find it.
The reason I write: I've recently finished reading Samuel Gregg's new book, Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing. Believe it or not, Tea Party Catholics have been around for over two hundred years. The first one was Charles Carroll of Carrollton, brother to the founder of your own university, and the only Roman Catholic signatory of the Declaration of Independence. In the words of John Adams, Carroll "hazard[ed] his all, his immense fortune, the largest in America, and his life" for the cause of civil and religious liberty.
Carroll didn't learn these principles from John Locke or Protestant covenant theology. He learned them from "what the Catholic Church's greatest minds had said about the nature and limits of government." These are the same principles that animate Tea Party Catholics today.
I don't expect that this book will change your mind. But I do hope it will prevent you from relying upon straw-man arguments that falsely represent the position of those faithful Catholics who disagree with you on certain matters of social and economic policy.
Read more: www.thepublicdiscourse.com