A group of Catholics from Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) home state have launched PrayforPaulsChangeofHeart.org, a website asking people to pray for the vice presidential candidate to change his position on his plan for the federal budget. This group, which includes Franciscan friars, joins in the growing protests from Catholic clergy concerned about the impact Ryan’s deep cuts in social programs will have on vulnerable members of society.
The group cites the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which in April sent a public letter to the House saying the Ryan budget would hurt poor families, seniors, and the unemployed. The website explains that the Ryan budget flies in the face of Catholic social teachings:
Paul Ryan is a sincere Catholic and a brother in Christ, and we ask him to reconnect with the compassion for the poor and vulnerable that is rooted in our consciences and articulated by the Catholic Church.
The US Catholic bishops wrote a series of letters about the House budget proposed by Rep. Ryan, saying that his cuts “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment. These cuts are unjustified and wrong.”
The site also has a section asking people to pray for Vice President Joe Biden, another devout Catholic, to change his stance on abortion rights.
Other faith leaders have called the budget “cruel,” “an immoral disaster,” and “profoundly misreading Church teaching.” Ryan has explicitly used Catholic teachings to justify his gutting of programs like food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid, and tax credits for low-income families, even as church leaders remind him publicly of the Catholic duty to protect the poor.
Mitt Romney has not escaped criticism from religious groups; most recently, a group of nuns and the Franciscan Action Network have asked Romney to shadow them for a day visiting the poor in order to better understand how his policies affect low income individuals. So far, both Romney and Ryan have dismissed and ignored the calls for compassion from the religious community.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, president of the USCCB, called Ryan “a friend” and “a great public servant” on Thursday, stressing he was “speaking personally and not from a partisan point of view.”