“Idolizer of the Market”: Paul Ryan Can’t Quite Hear Catholic Church’s Call for Economic Justice

Paul Ryan accuses President Obama of engaging in “sowing social unrest and class resentment.” The House Budget Committee chairman says the president is “preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment.”

Paul Ryan accuses Elizabeth Warren of engaging in class warfare. The House Budget Committee chairman the Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate is guilty of engaging in the “fatal conceit of liberalism.”

But what about the Catholic Church, which has taken a far more radical position on economic issues than Obama or Warren? What does the House Budget Committee chairman, a self-described “good Catholic,” do then?

If you’re Paul Ryan, you don’t decry the church for engaging in class warfare. Instead, you spin an interpretation of the church’s latest pronouncements that bears scant resemblance to what’s been written — but that just happens to favor your political interests.

Ryan’s certainly not the only Catholic politician in Washington to break with the church.

For years, Catholic Democrats from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to former House Appropriations Committee David Obey have taken their hits for adopting positions that are at odds with the church’s teachings with regard to reproductive rights and same-sex marriage.

But many of the same politicians who align with the church on social issues are at odds with the social-justice commitment it brings to economic debates.

Ryan’s rigidly right-wing approach to issues of taxation and spending, as well as his deep loyalty to Wall Street (he led the fight to get conservatives to back the 2008 bank bailout), has frequently put him at odds with the church’s social-justice teaching.

But never has the distinction been more clear than in recent days, as Ryan’s statements have reemphasized his status as the leading congressional spokesman for policy positions that are dramatically at odds with those expressed in a major new statement by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace?

That puts the congressman in a difficult spot.

Ryan has always identified as a Catholic politician, and he has frequently suggested that he is guided by the teachings of the church, going so far as to write in a July, 2011, column for a Catholic publication that: “Catholic social teaching is indispensable for officeholders.”

So what, Ryan was asked after the release of the Pontifical Council’s statement, did the House Budget Committee chairman think of proposals that the Rev. Thomas Reese of Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center suggests are “closer to the views of Occupy Wall Street than anyone in the U.S. Congress”

Time magazine observes that: “Those politicians who think the Dodd-Frank law went too far in attempting to reform Wall Street will likely need smelling salts after taking a look at a proposal for reforming the global financial system that was released by the Vatican… Calling into question the entire foundation of neo-liberal economics and proposing one world financial order? You never know what those radicals over at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace will come up with next.”

So what was Paul Ryan’s take?

What did the chairman of the House Banking Committee think of the Pontifical Council’s highlighting of Pope John Paul II’s criticism of the “idolatry of the market”? What of the council’s call for “the reform of the international monetary system and, in particular, the commitment to create some form of global monetary management” that will end abuses and inequity and restore “the primacy of the spiritual and of ethics needs to be restored and, with them, the primacy of politics – which is responsible for the common good – over the economy and finance”?

Ryan’s initial response to a pointed question about whether the church, with urging of “the global community to steer its institutions towards achieving the common good,” might be engaging in the “class warfare” he so frequently decries, was to try and laugh the contradictions off.

“Um, I actually do read these,” Ryan joked, with regard to Pontifical pronouncements. “I’m a good Catholic, you know… get in trouble if I don’t.”

Pressed to actually answer the question, the usually direct and unequivocal Ryan suddenly embraced moral relativism.

“You could interpret these in different ways,” he said of the statements from the church’s hierarchy. “I think you could derive different lessons from it,” he added.

Amusingly, the congressman then took a shot at moral relativism, suggesting that when the Pope expresses concern regarding the global financial system he is “talking about the extreme edge of individualism predicated upon moral relativism that produces bad results in society for people and families, and I think that’s the kind of thing he is talking about.”

That’s an interesting statement coming from a congressman who frequently mentions his reverence for Ayn Rand, the novelist who set herself up as a high priestess of individualism.

It’s also wrong.

The statements from the Pope and the Pontifical Council have been focused and clear in their criticism of the greed and abuse that characterizes the current financial system, of their concerns about the economic inequity its has spawned, and especially about the damage done to the poor by the “idolatry of the market.”

The Pontifical Council is calling for dramatically more oversight and regulation of financial markets, and for the establishment of new public authorities “with universal jurisdiction” to provide “supervision and coordination” for “the economy and finance.”

“These latter (economy and finance) need to be brought back within the boundaries of their real vocation and function, including their social function, in consideration of their obvious responsibilities to society, in order to nourish markets and financial institutions which are really at the service of the person, which are capable of responding to the needs of the common good and universal brotherhood, and which transcend all forms of economist stagnation and performative mercantilism,” the council continues. “On the basis of this sort of ethical approach, it seems advisable to reflect, for example, on… taxation measures on financial transactions through fair but modulated rates with charges proportionate to the complexity of the operations, especially those made on the ‘secondary’ market. Such taxation would be very useful in promoting global development and sustainability according to the principles of social justice and solidarity. It could also contribute to the creation of a world reserve fund to support the economies of the countries hit by crisis as well as the recovery of their monetary and financial system…”

That’s a reference to a financial speculation tax, something that Ryan — a major recipient of campaign contributions from traders, hedge-fund managers and other Wall Street insiders — has historically opposed.

The Pontifical Council says that such a tax should be considered “in order to nourish markets and financial institutions which are really at the service of the person, which are capable of responding to the needs of the common good and universal brotherhood, and which transcend all forms of economist stagnation and performative mercantilism.”

There is no moral relativism in that statement, no list of options. Rather, there is a call from the Catholic Church for the development of an economy and financial systems “capable of responding to the needs of the common good and universal brotherhood.”

I happen to agree with the church on this one. My sense is that my friend Paul Ryan does not.

America is not a theocracy. Ryan certainly has a right to deviate from church doctrine as he chooses. But, hopefully, he will recognize that he is, like those members of Congress who support reproductive rights or same-sex marriage, distancing himself from the position of the church.

He is free to do so, of course. But those of us who understand that budgets are moral documents — which outline the values and priorities of a society — are equally free to wonder whether Paul Ryan, as chairman of the House Budget Committee, is perhaps engaging too ardently in the “idolatry of the market.”

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic Church’s German Porn-Selling Media Company Rakes In The Euros

Weltbild is Germany’s largest media company, with an online business second only to Amazon. It sells books, DVDs, music and a lot more….it also sells a lot of pornography. Oh yes, and did we mention that it was owned by the Catholic Church….not the Catholic Church owns a bit of it. Not the Catholic Church has stock in the company. The company is owned- lock stock and barrel- by the Catholic Church.

Of course, the Church does not really want to believe that. They stated through a spokesman that “Weltbild tries to prevent the distribution of possibly pornographic content.” They seem to be putting about as much effort into preventing the flow of pornographic materials through their business as they do in preventing child molestation- which is not a lot.

For over ten years, a group of Catholics have been trying to get the Church authorities to pay attention to the fact that there is this hypocrisy going on, and they even sent a 70-page document to all the bishops whose diocese have shared ownership of the company over the last thirty years. They detailed evidence of the sale of this pornography.

According to Worldcrunch:

Today, the Augsburg-based company employs 6,400 people, has an annual turnover of 1.7 billion euros, and an online business in Germany second only to Amazon. Weltbild is also Germany’s leading book seller, controlling 20% of the domestic bookstore market. Profits are regularly reinvested in the company with an eye to rapidly increase the market share – an increase that is only possible if Weltbild continues to sell materials that are not compatible with the teachings of the Church.
Weltbild has some 2,500 erotic books in their online catalogue. Some of those come from Blue Panther Books, which is an erotic book publisher actually owned by Weltbild. Among the titles offered by BPB are “Anwaltshure” (Lawyer’s Whore), “Vögelbar” (F—kable) and “Schlampen-Internat” (Sluts’ Boarding School).

The Church also owns a fifty percent stake in the publishing company Droemer Knaur. They produce pornographic books with titles such as “Nimm mich hier und nimm mich jetzt!” (Take Me Here, Take Me Now!), and “Sag Luder zu mir!” (Call Me Slut!).

It sounds as if the Roman Catholic Church has had little incentive to actually stop the flow of pornography out of their publishing company. Let us face it, if you walk past the Inspirational section at your local Walmart, you tend to notice that the books are not exactly flying off the shelf. Several Bible and Christian oriented book stories have had to go more mainstream over the years because of their inability to sell much in the way of books.

Well, it would not be surprising, in all honesty, that the Catholic Church is doing this. After all, it was once said that the Catholic Church owned many a whore house. At one time, ‘nunnery’ was slang for a whore house, so, it seems reasonable that they would just go into pornography these days.

Complete Article HERE!

Keep calm and lock the doors

COMMENTARY

Flipping through my normal news sources, I came across an ‘in other news’ story about the Occupy London (dubbed by the BBC as ‘anti-capitalist protest’). Seems that said protests are large enough that they have accidentally done what the Nazis needed the Blitz to do, they have shuttered St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Citing health and safety concerns, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, dean of the cathedral, announced that they will be closing St. Paul’s until further notice. As can be seen by the image above, the protest camp is sandwiched between the historic cathedral and the Exchange, filling Paternoster Square.

What struck me about this story most is that I see it as a sad tale of missed opportunity. Here is a large group of people who are following their conscience and speaking out against economic/social injustice and the Church, rather than providing assistance and showing that they are sensitive to the needs of their neighbour, decide to turn out the lights and lock the doors.

Is that the message that they wish to send?
Is that the message we wish to be sent?
Is that the message that Christ has charged them to preach?
Where is God in this?

Complete Article HERE!