On Thursday, Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein publicized a letter from liberal Catholic professors insisting that House Speaker John Boehner was a poorly formed Catholic:
Three days before House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Catholic University, dozens of faculty at Catholic colleges — including many from the university — have written to the Catholic speaker, criticizing him for having a record "among the worst in Congress" on protecting the poor.
Here’s the kind of story The Washington Post doesn’t do – Catholic University having a booth at D.C. Youth Pride Day for the GLBT lobby on April 30. Is that in line with Catholic moral teaching? No. But somehow, that's less scandalous than Boehner.
This would seem to match the liberalism of Stephen Schneck, one of the Catholic University organizers of the letter attacking Boehner, who recently told Canada's National Post:
Mr. Schneck, who personally is opposed to legalized gay marriage, said there may even be a theological dimension to popular Catholic attitudes.
"Catholics distinguish between being and acting," he said.
"There's no moral issue in the way that one is born -it is in the acting out. So it may seem perfectly appropriate to grant someone who just happens to be born gay all the rights that everyone else has."
Schneck is also behind inviting former AFL-CIO head John Sweeney (a Catholic whose union organization endorses both gay marriage and "contraceptive equity" by health insurers) to CUA for a labor conference last week: "Nobody gets the moral dimensions of labor solidarity and its commitment to the common good better than John Sweeney," said Schneck. (Although he was pressed to take Sweeney to task in mid-conference by university officials.)
Mollie Hemingway at Get Religion also wonders whether these same academics sent a letter upbraiding the last Catholic Speaker, Nancy Pelosi:
Namely, did this same group of professors (or some subset of same) send a similar letter to previous Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Now I don’t know if Catholic social teaching takes a particular stance on, say, the importance of quality education for poor D.C. kids any more than it does on the proper size of Medicaid. But assuming it does, I’m wondering what this group said to her about her role in the termination of the D.C. voucher program.
Or, considering how much vastly more important the abortion issue is when it comes to teaching that Catholics must assent to, what did this group say to her about her strenuous support for abortion rights? I’m assuming that they did, but it’s not mentioned. And if they didn’t, the story should really point that out as partisanship.
Let's turn back to the Boorstein story. She elaborates on the liberal letter:
The letter does not protest Boehner’s visit or ask the school to rescind its invitation, but urges him to “reawaken your familiarity” with church teaching on the subject of poverty. It focuses on the 2012 budget Boehner is shepherding, criticizing it for cuts that would hurt the poor and are “particularly cruel to pregnant women and children.”
In a blog post Wednesday morning, the liberal Catholic writer Michael Sean Winters wrote that the proposed budget would increase abortions because it cuts funding to programs that serve at-risk pregnant women, who ostensibly would then be more likely to seek abortions.
Liberal Catholics enjoy calling proposed social program restraint "anti-life" (as this letter does). It's nice that Boorstein recognizes Winters as liberal. She could have added he wrote the book "Left at the Altar: How the Democrats Lost the Catholics and How the Catholics Can Save the Democrats." (The book party starred ABC's George Stephanopoulos.) The letter itself sounds like a liberal-Democrat direct-mail appeal:
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 .
Boorstein didn't notice what CNN.com did about the proposed reductions in the Women Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program in 2011:
Even if the Democratic Senate and Obama agree to WIC cuts, WIC has been running a surplus in 2011, and that money could be used to fill any funding reduction.
"The funding level that was provided last year...turned out to be more than what's needed," explained Zoë Neuberger with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
"Participation didn't increase as much as was expected," Neuberger said. "Food prices ended up being lower than what was anticipated. And both because of the participation and lower than expected food costs, there are funds left over from 2010 that are available to be used."