The “preferential option for the poor” is one of those great social doctrines nobody ever heard of—and to the extent that it’s known, it’s generally loved by the left and loathed by the right. So, the sudden interest in this Catholic social principle—inside the halls of power—is unexpected. That’s all the more so because the attention has emanated from a corner office in one hall of exceptional power, occupied by Paul Ryan.
The Republican chairman of the House budget committee isn’t knocking the preferential option, either. He’s saluting it as “one of the primary tenets” of Catholic social teaching, which he currently avows. He’s complimenting a doctrine that says a nation and its government should have no greater priority than lifting up the poor. Yes, I’m still talking about social-welfare-budget-slashing, upper-bracket-tax-cutting, Ayn Rand-adulating Paul Ryan.
True, Ryan appears to be seeking cover as much as wisdom. All this got started with religious leaders and activists who denounced his budget proposal unveiled on March 20, which would deal a blow to programs for the poor and homeless. The Wisconsin lawmaker responded a couple of weeks ago with a Christian Broadcasting Network interview in which he held forth on Catholic social principles including the preferential option for the poor. Read more