Reaction was swift to Mitt Romney’s announcement of selecting Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate in the presidential race.
Romney’s selection of the Wisconsin representatives is historic and a lightning rod for critics of Ryan’s fiscal policies. The House Budget Committee chair’s budget, while praised by many conservatives and tea party supporters, it also yielded rebuke by Roman Catholic bishops and other Catholic leaders who spoke out against the plan to reduce government spending, saying it flouted the faith’s teaching on the poor.
Romney’s selection is also interesting in terms of appeal among Catholics; Ryan, a seven-term congressman, is Catholic, and Romney is Mormon. And the decision also comes at a time when President Obama’s campaign plans to ramp up its Catholic outreach.
Our recent ‘Nuns on the Bus’ tour was created to point out immoral budget priorities present in Rep. Ryan’s proposed federal budget. Tragically, his budget passed the House of Representatives and has now been formally endorsed by Gov. Mitt Romney,” according to a statement posted on the Web site of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby
NETWORK’s Executive Director Sister Simone Campbell, said in a statement Saturday morning:
“We agree with Catholic bishops that Paul Ryan’s budget fails the test of Catholic social teaching since it deliberately harms people at the economic margins. It is also unpatriotic because it says that we are an individualistic, selfish nation. This is emphatically not who we are. Both our Constitution and our faith teach us that ‘We the People’ are called to care for one another, to have responsibility for each other. This year’s election will present us with a critical choice. Do we want to favor the rich on the backs of people in need? Is that who we want to be?”
The decision is also historic, marking the first time no Protestant is on an American presidential ticket for one of the two major parties. NOTE: An earlier version of this post did not make the distinction that this is the first time one of the two major parties has a presidential ticket that doesn’t feature a Protestant.
“Romney’s team clearly thinks they are going to win on religion in the campaign, even though evangelicals won’t have one of their own on the ticket,” the National Journal reported Saturday morning. “In an ad released Thursday by the Romney campaign, Romney is portrayed as a defender of religious liberty, and charges that President Obama ‘used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith.’”
Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein contributed to this report.