Franciscan Friars Join Nuns’ Call On Romney To Spend Day With The Poor

Yesterday, a group of Catholic nuns called on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to spend a day with them to learn about the plight of America’s poorest citizens. Now, another religious group has made a similar call.

The Franciscan Action Network, a group of Franciscan friars and sisters, released a statement Wednesday asking Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the author of the House GOP budget, to join them in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to “spend time with the poor.” Like NETWORK, the national Catholic social justice group that started the nun’s push yesterday, the Franciscan Action Network took issue with the misleading ad about welfare reform the Romney campaign released this week.

FAN is “disturbed by the demeaning campaign ad and conversation about welfare by the Romney campaign,” it said in a release. The group also criticized Romney for endorsing the House GOP budget, which cuts programs that benefit the poor and middle class. Romney’s ad is hypocritical, the group says, because it talks about “ensuring that low-income people are working” even as the Romney-endorsed GOP budget cuts job training programs for the poor:

Rhett Engelking, OFS, a lay Franciscan in Milwaukee, WI, who works with the poor in hunger relief and mental health, invites both Gov. Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (whose district is nearby) to spend time with the poor in Milwaukee and with the Franciscans who work with them. He said, “Wisconsin is getting a lot of attention as a swing state, and political leaders talking about the poor in demeaning ways while proposing to cut job training programs should spend time with the people they are affecting.”

The House GOP budget has been pilloried by religious groups since its release in the spring. Religious leaders called it an “immoral disaster” that “robs the poor” when it was first released, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops circulated letters through Congress calling the budget’s cuts to food assistance programs “unjustified and wrong.” Catholic nuns targeted the budget during a nine-state bus tour this summer.

When Ryan released the budget plan in April, Romney said it would be “marvelous” if the Senate joined the House in passing it.