WASHINGTON, D.C., May 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic social teaching and its “vision of dignity and possibility” is “a perfect antidote to what ails our culture,” Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, told the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast this morning.
Ryan, who is not running for re-election, blasted the moral relativism that is “becoming more and more pervasive in our culture.”
“Identity politics and tribalism have grown on top of this,” he said. The solution to this, which is exacerbated by technology, is Catholic social teaching.
“It begins with a vision of a free and virtuous society – not a set of policy prescriptions or even a toolkit for producing those prescriptions – but a vision of dignity and possibility,” said Ryan. “It is a vision that inspires us to serve the common good, to live faithfully, and to renew the hope that our Founders' vision of liberty and justice for all can be achieved in our less-than-perfect world.”
Rather than “instant answers,” Catholic social teaching provides “a way to conduct our public discourse so that a measure of wisdom is achieved through common work toward noble ends.”
“This goes beyond a call for civility,” he said. “The problems we are facing are bigger than the tone we take.”
Ryan discussed subsidiarity – the principle that matters ought to be handled by the lowest competent authority. Subsidiarity, the Acton Institute explains, is the notion that “any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be. This principle is a bulwark of limited government and personal freedom. It conflicts with the passion for centralization and bureaucracy characteristic of the Welfare State.”
Ryan described subsidiarity as “a sense of civic friendship.”
He called subsidiarity’s “rightful partner” solidarity. He shared a story from Catholic Charities in Fort Worth, Texas, and how that organization helped a man named Chris go to nursing school and “navigate the system.” (Catholic Charities is not to be confused with Catholic Relief Services.)
“Catholic social teaching tells us that our public moral culture – the foundation of our political culture – is shaped by these natural institutions and free associations of civil society,” he said. “And it cautions us against allowing the state too great a reach into civil society. Otherwise, we risk stifling what de Tocqueville found so admirable in our young republic: those instincts for free association, philanthropy, and voluntarism.”
“We should all insist that public policy at every level permits Catholic institutions the maximum freedom to serve the poor, to serve the elderly, to serve yearning for foster families…women in crisis pregnancies, families torn apart by the opioid epidemic: all those who look to the church for the help they need to live their lives of purpose,” he continued.
“We need these mediating institutions in our lives,” Ryan concluded. “We need them to be healthy and vibrant.”
National Catholic Prayer Breakfast board member Maureen Ferguson introduced Ryan and said the organization wanted to honor his public service.
“He has been an articulate defender of the great Catholic social teachings of solidarity and subsidiarity,” she said, and also of the pro-life cause and religious liberty.
Ryan said the “beautiful story” of the good works the Catholic Church does needs to be continually retold.