“I suppose there are some Catholics who for a long time have thought they had a monopoly of sorts,” Ryan said. “Not exactly on heaven, but on the social teaching of our church. Of course there can be differences among faithful Catholics on this.”
Or, you know, not.
Last week, following an assessment by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican stripped the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, representing most American nuns, of its powers of self-government, maintaining that its members have made statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle has taken control of the Conference, writing new laws for it, supplanting its leadership, and banning “political” activity (which is what Rome calls social work).
Gary Wills defends the nuns:
Nuns were quick to respond to the AIDS crisis, and to the spiritual needs of gay people—which earned them an earlier rebuke from Rome. They were active in the civil rights movement. They ran soup kitchens.
But I don't think Ryan would find that argument persuasive:
“Simply put, I do not believe that the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government,” he said. “Those unwilling to lift the debt are complicit in our acceleration toward a debt crisis, in which the poor would be hurt the first and the worst.”In fact, I'd have to say Ryan and the Bishops are more alike than different. They're just arguing over who gets to own the pin the angels are dancing on.
The nuns are concerned with people.
Adding, just because I can, and just because Ryan (as Charles Pierce points out) brought Aquinas into this, something from the esteemed theologian:
Things which are of human right cannot derogate from natural right or Divine right. Now according to the natural order established by Divine Providence, inferior things are ordained for the purpose of succoring man's needs by their means. Wherefore the division and appropriation of things which are based on human law, do not preclude the fact that man's needs have to be remedied by means of these very things. Hence whatever certain people have in superabundance is due, by natural law, to the purpose of succoring the poor. For this reason Ambrose [Loc. cit., 2, Objection 3] says, and his words are embodied in the Decretals(Dist. xlvii, can. Sicut ii): "It is the hungry man's bread that you withhold, the naked man's cloak that you store away, the money that you bury in the earth is the price of the poor man's ransom and freedom." (Question 66, Article 7.)