Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Paul Ryan and the House Chaplain: Gospel According to Ayn Trumps Gospel of Jesus Christ

Elizabeth Dias and Shirley Gay Stolberg, "Firing of House Chaplain Causes Uproar on Capitol Hill":

But in an interview on Thursday with The New York Times, Father Conroy said he was blindsided when Mr. Ryan asked him to resign, and suggested politics — specifically a prayer he gave in November when Congress was debating a tax overhaul — may have been a factor in the speaker’s decision. 
Father Conroy prayed then for lawmakers to "guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans." Shortly after, he said, he was admonished by Mr. Ryan of Wisconsin, who is also a Roman Catholic. 
"Padre, you just got to stay out of politics," he recalled the speaker saying.

Paul Ryan's furious rebuke (“Padre, you gotta stay out of politics!”) comes from a very special place that has lingered in the hearts of corrupt rulers from the beginning of time. To wit, they fear that they will be unmasked and exposed as frauds, and that fear turns to blind rage when their misdeeds are in fact unmasked. 
Pundits that play the story as merely another "unforced error" on Ryan's part miss this crucial point about the containable rage of the exposed despoilers toward someone who is, by all accounts, a mild-mannered and well-regarded figure. 
In theory, Ryan could have played it cool. He could have taken the chaplain's exact words to declare that ensuring "balanced benefits" was his goal as well in promoting the tax bill; hence, no problem. We all recall that Ryan did proclaim (falsely, but never mind) that the bill as passed was a boon to the struggling middle class. 
But no, that kind of move toward a cool deflection simply could not happen in this case. Exposed despoilers are constitutionally unable to keep their cool in the face of exposure (as we see every day in the rantings and ravings of a certain chief executive).

Since Republicans closed ranks around Ryan and quashed a move to obtain records of the matter, we may never know the truth. But if we look closer, this conflict reflects a much larger fight about Catholicism in America, with Conroy representing Pope Francis's new progressive leadership, and Ryan representing the conservative old guard. . . . 
But it is on economic matters that Pope Francis has most alienated conservatives like Ryan. Ryan is an avowed fan of the (atheist, anti-religious) Ayn Rand, who claimed that people ought to be as free as possible to better themselves, rather than be held back by the weakest. That means as little taxation as possible, as few health and environmental regulations as possible, as little government as possible.  
Pope Francis, on the other hand, has preached Jesus’s message of ministering to the "least of these." He's washed the feet of the poor, reached out to marginalized populations, and taken an extremely strong line on environmental issues, particularly climate change (which Ryan, in lockstep with the GOP, denies). Those positions lead to the diametrical opposite of everything Ryan stands for. And they represent the longtime liberalism (relatively speaking) of the Jesuits. 
That conflict, not a few borderline comments in a prayer, is what this fight is really about. It’s about the soul of American Catholicism, with Ryan and Conroy representing its conservative and liberal wings, respectively. Conroy is part of Pope Francis’s Jesuit-led movement, transforming the Catholic Church to the horror of conservatives. Ryan is one of the conservatives fighting back against it. This fight is a salvo in a much larger war.

David Badash, "'Religious Freedom' Republicans Reject Resolution to Investigate Why Ryan Rired House Chaplain": 

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan forced the resignation of the official House Chaplain, and Republicans are helping to cover up why. Father Patrick Conroy complied with Ryan's demand, and submitted his letter of resignation earlier this month. He has told reporters he still does not know why the Speaker wants him gone. 
Neither does anyone else, as Ryan has refused to tell anyone, only "saying that Conroy had not met the pastoral needs of lawmakers," The Hill reports. No lawmaker has stood by that claim in public. 
After news broke Thursday of the firing, conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans condemned the act. Democrats Friday morning (photo) filed a resolution to create a committee to investigate the firing.
Republicans, including some who claim to be devoted to religious freedom, blocked its passage Friday by a vote of 215-171. 

Last week's firing of the Catholic chaplain of the House of Representatives by Speaker Paul Ryan has been greeted with silence by those normally voluble defenders of the faith on the Catholic right. 
EWTN, to be sure, took note of the story with a news report. But we are now five days into the story of why Ryan asked for the resignation of Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, S.J., and one looks in vain for an opinion from LifeSiteNews, Church Militant, or Phil Lawler—to say nothing of Dwight Longenecker, Edward Pentin, or the rest of the National Catholic Register bloggers, not to mention the boys at the Acton Institute Powerblog. 

As a number of good commenters in the past several days are pointing out, the controversy about Paul Ryan's firing of Father Conroy after he prayed that we remember that our economic policies need to be guided by compassion and a concern for justice for the poor is really about the determination of white evangelicals in the House to have "their" man as chaplain.

They are now attacking Father Conroy, some of them, in none-too-subtle anti-Catholic ways, with insinuations about priests being gay.

What they want is a chaplain who will preach to them "their" "gospel" — which is about the rich being rich because they have worked hard and led moral lives. And about the poor being poor because they are lazy and immoral and social parasites . . . .

Never mind that the whole gist of the bible, of Jesus, of the prophets, is to castigate that smug and cruel understanding of things. It's what they believe. It's what they want. It's what they intend to have preached to them.

And it's what they intend to impose by fiat — religious freedom for me, but not for thee — on all the rest of us, by God.

Paul Ryan and the U.S. Catholic bishops have long known what they were dealing with when they struck their devils' bargain with right-wing white evangelicals who are racist to the core — and whose history tells us this. But they need these folks to continue their pretense that only the Republicans are "pro-life" and "Christian," and they will do just about anything to keep that pretense alive.

Even to the extent of throwing to the wolves a priest who prays a prayer about remembering to be compassionate and just to the poor . . . . Cannot have that. Cannot have that presented to us as the teaching of Jesus. 

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