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Nuns challenge Rep. Ryan with bus tour

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
June 14, 2012
— Catholic nuns who have been admonished by the Vatican for their political activism will bring that activism to Janesville on Tuesday.

The Nuns on the Bus tour is visiting lawmakers who supported the House Republican budget that was crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville.


The group says it plans to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Tuesday in front of Ryan’s office at 20 N. Main St.


The House is scheduled to be in session next week, so Ryan will be in Washington, D.C., a Ryan spokeswoman said. She said the nuns had not requested a meeting with Ryan.


The Vatican’s doctrinal office in April criticized American nuns for being outspoken on social justice but silent on other issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, according to the New York Times.


The critique focused on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group representing about 80 percent of women’s orders.


Nuns have responded with “Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness,” scheduled to begin Monday in Iowa and end July 2 in Virginia.


Ryan sparked controversy in April when he said his budget is consistent with the country’s founding principles and with how he understands his Catholic faith.


“We put our trust in people, not in government. Our budget (returns) power to individuals, to families, and to communities,” Ryan said in a later speech at Georgetown University.


Ryan and the nuns agree that poverty is a problem. They disagree on how to address it. Ryan calls for measures to bring down government debt, which he sees as a grave danger.


Austerity will follow if steps are not taken to address the debt now, Ryan maintains.


Ryan advocates creating more opportunity so the poor can help themselves and derides central-government handouts, which he says have not worked.


The nuns object to cuts in social programs in Ryan’s budget.


NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice lobby, organized the tour, according to the tour’s website.


“We cannot stand by silently when the U.S. Congress considers further enriching the wealthiest Americans at the expense of struggling, impoverished families,” the website states.


“The sisters are merely raising concerns about Paul Ryan’s budget and saying that a budget that decimates services for the poor does not follow their religious values,” said tour spokeswoman Casey Schoeneberger.


Some U.S. bishops also have criticized the cuts in social services in Ryan’s budget.


But Ryan’s Bishop, Robert Morlino of Madison, seemed to support Ryan when asked about Ryan’s budget on Catholic TV network EWTN. Morlino said: “I consider him a fine Catholic gentleman. … He makes his judgments very much in accord with the teachings of the church, and he knows how to do that.”



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