Nuns And The Vatican: A Clash Decades In Making

Fri 4 May, 2012 11:30 am
Nuns And The Vatican: A Clash Decades In Making
by Scott Neuman
May 4, 2012

In a previous version of this story, Mary E. Hunt was misidentified as a nun. American nuns attend Mass at Sant'Apollinare in Rome. The umbrella group that represents the majority of the approximately 56,000 U.S. nuns plans to meet later this month to discuss its response to a Vatican reprimand.

May 3, 2012

When Harvard divinity professor Harvey Cox arranged to meet with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Vatican in 1988, a group of nuns thought he was wasting his time.

"I was chatting and having dinner with a number of Dominican sisters who were staying there for a 30-day retreat," Cox says. "They were incredulous that I wanted to bother seeing Ratzinger. 'Why do you want to do that?' they asked. 'Who pays any attention to him?' "

Flash forward a few decades, and nuns are more than paying attention.

Two weeks ago, the Vatican issued a report declaring that the umbrella group representing most American nuns had strayed from church doctrine and adopted "radical feminist" views. Rome ordered Seattle's archbishop to begin monitoring all operations of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

It hit "like a sock in the stomach," Sister Simone Campbell, head of the Catholic social justice lobby Network, told NPR shortly after the word came down.

Father Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, was considered a liberal at the time of the Second Vatican Council.

The reprimand might have come as a shock to many U.S. nuns, but observers say the confrontation has been brewing since Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church's controversial liberalization in the 1960s.

Nuns Caught In The Middle

The Second Vatican Council, popularly known as Vatican II, had asked religious orders to modernize, which for many nuns meant focusing more on social justice and other issues in their communities and less on promulgating church doctrine — including Rome's strict views on birth control and abortion.

Vatican II "asked them to respond to the needs of society," says the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and culture editor for America magazine, a Catholic weekly.

But he says the changes ushered in nearly a half-century ago have largely fallen out of favor in Rome, and that has left many nuns caught in the middle.

"They have embraced the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and they have thrown themselves into work for the poor and marginalized that other parts of the church wouldn't go near," says Martin, who refers to the nuns as "my heroes" and recently started the Twitter hashtag #WhatSistersMeantoMe.

Rome gets very worried when the chain of command appears to be challenged, either overtly or covertly.

- Harvey Cox, Harvard divinity professor

"Many sisters I know are quite saddened, because many of the reforms that happened in the last 50 years were the result of their following the instructions of the Second Vatican Council," he says.

Harvard's Cox, who calls himself a "sympathetic outside observer" of the current drama, says the Vatican crackdown is likely to chafe for many nuns from orders that have long relished their independence.

"My guess is that the real worry here with the American sisters is that they are slipping out of the chain of command," says Cox. "Rome gets very worried when the chain of command appears to be challenged, either overtly or covertly."

A Shift Toward Obedience And Order

Both Bishop Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II, and then-Father Joseph Ratzinger, installed as Pope Benedict XVI after John Paul's death in 2005, took part in the opening session of the Second Vatican Council.

Known as the "pope's rottweiler" for his hard-line positions back when he led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the same Vatican office that issued last month's LCWR assessment — Ratzinger was considered a liberal at the council.

The Second Vatican Council opened in Rome on Oct. 11, 1962, under Pope John XXIII and concluded on Dec. 8, 1965, under Pope Paul VI.

"But Ratzinger got very dismayed and distraught by what was going on in the late 1960s in the German universities," Cox says. "He thought it was time to tack [to the right] and emphasize authority and obedience and order because he thought things were getting out of hand."

Cox, author of the book The Future of Faith, says that during their "long talk" in 1988, one of Ratzinger's chief concerns was so-called liberation theology, a movement led by Latin American bishops that emphasizes working to end unjust economic, political and social conditions.

"The main objection was not really the theological content of the liberation theologians, but the fact that they seemed to be forming a kind of separate magisterium," Cox says. "They had these base communities all over the place that were not really answerable to the local bishop."

Essentially Two Options

Cox says that's the same concern with the nuns now. The Vatican's remedy? A five-year period in which Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, along with two other bishops, will provide "review [and] guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work of the LCWR," according to the CDF's doctrinal assessment.

"It means they'll review all policies, all speakers, all conferences, all publications and all letters of support," says Mary E. Hunt, a feminist theologian, writer and activist.

Sister Simone Campbell, head of the Catholic social justice lobby Network, says the Vatican reprimand was "like a sock in the stomach."

It's not clear what form the Vatican-mandated changes will eventually take. And the LCWR — made up of about 1,500 representatives who in turn represent the majority of the approximately 56,000 U.S. nuns — plans to meet later this month on how to respond.

An LCWR official told NPR this week that members have essentially two options: They can agree to work with Rome on making the mandated changes, or they can choose to form a new organization independent of the church's hierarchy.

"The conference plans to move slowly, not rushing to judgment. We will engage in dialogue where possible and be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit," the group said in a statement.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for Sartain, says all the parties involved constitute "a reasonable group of people, and the changes will be made in a reasonable way."

Waiting In The Wings?

Hunt wonders whether another factor is at play. She thinks the church would ultimately like to displace the LCWR in favor of a smaller and much more conservative order of nuns known as the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.

"They are of course uniformly anti-choice, anti-gay — all the things that the hierarchical church stands for, those women agree with and abide by," she says, adding that with the crackdown on the LCWR, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious "is poised to become the new definitive group."

Walsh disagrees with that view. "I don't think it could be supplanted, because it is the main body," she says.

Sister Donna Bethell, chairwoman of Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., says the Vatican is simply fulfilling its responsibility to make sure the sisters reflect church doctrine.

"They're expected not only not to contradict what the church teaches, which is one of the complaints, but also to be very active in ... talking to people since more people see them than see bishops, talking to people about the fullness of the church's teaching," Bethell says.

The Vatican oversight may hurt recruitment of U.S. nuns, whose numbers already have shrunk by two-thirds in the years since Vatican II, according to data collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

"Without a doubt, it makes it more difficult," Hunt says.

Cox, the divinity professor, says he doesn't understand the Vatican's approach given the way the clergy abuse scandal has played out.

"This is a bit humiliating and angering to have it played out in public this way," he says.

"Why couldn't they have done it much quieter? Why such a public thing over this?" Cox wonders. "They could have quietly met after they did their assessment of American nuns and found ways to counsel and negotiate with them."
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Lustig Andrei
Fri 4 May, 2012 01:52 pm
Wed 18 Jul, 2012 09:36 am
@Lustig Andrei,
An American Nun Responds To Vatican Criticism
by NPR Staff - NPR
July 17, 2012

In April, the Vatican announced that three American bishops (one archbishop and two bishops) would be sent to oversee the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a member organization founded in 1956 that represents 80 percent of Catholic sisters in the United States, to get them to conform with the teachings of the Church.

In its assessment of the group, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the leadership conference is undermining Roman Catholic teachings on homosexuality and birth control and promoting "radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith." It also reprimanded the nuns for hosting speakers who "often contradict or ignore" church teachings and for making public statements that "disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals."

In their own statement, the nuns said the Vatican's doctrinal assessment of the group was based on "unsubstantiated accusations" and may "compromise" the ability of female nuns to "fulfill their mission."

"I would say the mandate is more critical of positions we haven't taken than those we have taken," says Sister Pat Farrell, the president of the Leadership Conference. "As I read that document, the concern is the issues we tend to be more silent about when the bishops are speaking out very clearly about some things. There are issues about which we think there's a need for a genuine dialogue, and there doesn't seem to be a climate of that in the church right now."

Farrell tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that the leadership organization is currently gathering the perspectives of all of its members in preparation for its national assembly in August.

"We're hoping to come out of that assembly with a much clearer direction about [the Vatican's decision], and that's when the national board and presidency can proceed," she says.

Among the options on the table, she says, are fully complying with the mandate, not complying with the mandate or seeing if the Vatican will negotiate with them.

"In my mind, [I want] to see if we can somehow, in a spirited, nonviolent strategizing, look for maybe a third way that refuses to define the mandate and the issues in such black and white terms," she says.
Interview Highlights

On questioning doctrine within the Catholic Church

"The question is, 'Can you be Catholic and have a questioning mind?' That's what we're asking. ... I think one of our deepest hopes is that in the way we manage the balancing beam in the position we're in, if we can make any headways in helping to create a safe and respectful environment where church leaders along with rank-and-file members can raise questions openly and search for truth freely, with very complex and swiftly changing issues in our day, that would be our hope. But the climate is not there. And this mandate coming from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith putting us in a position of being under the control of certain bishops, that is not a dialogue. If anything, it appears to be shutting down dialogue."

On their options

"We're not talking about the risk of excommunication or leaving the church. That's not our intent. We're talking about the Vatican's dealing with a national organization, not with specific religious congregations or individual religious. The one and only underlying option for us is to respond with integrity with however we proceed. That is our absolute bottom line in this. Some of the options would be to just comply with the mandate that's been given to us. Or to say we can't comply with this and see what the Vatican does with that. Or to remove ourselves and form a separate organization."

And this mandate coming from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith putting us in a position of being under the control of certain bishops, that is not a dialogue. If anything, it appears to be shutting down dialogue.

- Sister Pat Farrell

On the criticism from the Vatican regarding human sexuality

"We have been, in good faith, raising concerns about some of the church's teachings on sexuality. The problem being that the teaching and interpretation of the faith can't remain static and really needs to be reformulated, rethought in light of the world we live in. And new questions and new realities [need to be addressed] as they arise. And if those issues become points of conflict, it's because Women Religious stand in very close proximity to people at the margins, to people with very painful, difficult situations in their lives. That is our gift to the church. Our gift to the church is to be with those who have been made poorer, with those on the margins. Questions there are much less black and white because human realities are much less black and white. That's where we spend our days."

On roles within the church

"A bishop, for instance, can't be on the street working with the homeless. He has other tasks. But we can be. So if there is a climate of open and trusting and adequate dialogue among us, we can bring together some of those conversations, and that's what I hope we can help develop in a deeper way."

On women's ordination

"The position we took in favor of women's ordination in 1977 was before there was a Vatican letter saying that there is a definitive church position against the ordination of women. So it's interesting to me that the document [just released by the church] goes back 30 years to talk about our position on the ordination of women. There has, in fact, been an official opinion from the church that that topic should not be discussed. When that declaration came out, the response of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was to call for a nationwide time of prayer and fasting for all Women Religious in response to that. Because our deep desire for places of leadership of women in the church be open. It remains a desire. Since then, the Leadership Conference has not spoken publicly about the ordination of women. Imposing a silence doesn't necessarily change people's thinking, but we are in a position to continue to be very concerned that the position of women in the church be recognized."

On the phrase "radical feminist themes"

"Sincerely, what I hear in the phrasing ... is fear — a fear of women's positions in the church. Now, that's just my interpretation. I have no idea what was in the mind of the congregation, of the doctrine of the faith, when they wrote that. But women theologians around the world have been seriously looking at the question of: How have the church's interpretations of how we talk about God, interpret Scripture, organize life in the church — how have they been tainted by a culture that minimizes the value and the place of women?"

On abortion

Our gift to the church is to be with those who have been made poorer, with those on the margins. Questions there are much less black and white because human realities are much less black and white. That's where we spend our days.

- Sister Pat Farrell

"I think the criticism of what we're not talking about seems to me to be unfair. Because [Women] Religious have clearly given our lives to supporting life, to supporting the dignity of human persons. Our works are very much pro-life. We would question, however, any policy that is more pro-fetus than actually pro-life. If the rights of the unborn trump all of the rights of all of those who are already born, that is a distortion, too — if there's such an emphasis on that. However, we have sisters who work in right-to-life issues. We also have many, many ministries that support life. We dedicate to our lives to those on the margins of society, many of whom are considered throwaway people: the impaired, the chronically mentally ill, the elderly, the incarcerated, to the people on death row. We have strongly spoken out against the death penalty, against war, hunger. All of those are right-to-life issues. There's so much being said about abortion that is often phrased in such extreme and such polarizing terms that to choose not to enter into a debate that is so widely covered by other sectors of the Catholic Church — and we have been giving voice to other issues that are less covered but are equally as important.

"Our concern is that right-to-life issues be seen across a whole spectrum and are not narrowly defined. ... To single out one right-to-life issue and to say that that's the only issue that defines Catholic identity, I think, is really a distortion."
Tue 14 Aug, 2012 11:17 am
Sister Simone Campbell on What Drives ‘Nuns on the Bus’
June 27, 2012
by Andrew Fredericks

Sister Simone Campbell is the executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby Network and leader of the Nuns on the Bus. Our producer Andrew Fredericks is on the road with the nuns, and managed to squeeze this interview between visits to social service sites and congressional offices.

Andrew Fredericks: How did “Nuns on the Bus” come about?

Sister Simone Campbell: After the Vatican issued the document censuring the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and named their collaboration with Network as a problem organization, we thought, ‘how can we use this attention to be of service to the people that we care about?’ Having this much attention — we’re not used to that as Catholic sisters. It seemed like a great convergence to have this notoriety used for the sake of our mission.

We don’t know who first thought of the bus, but the idea caught like wildfire. May 14th we had the idea, and June 17th we launched the thing. It’s a miracle.

Fredericks: Why the focus on the Ryan budget?

Sister Simone: Network’s mission from its beginning is about economic justice issues. So the thing that’s utmost in our minds is the devastation being done economically through the budget fight. What will happen to programs that we care passionately about that are so effective, that really help people? The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has said that the budget is an immoral document. I’ve just said it’s wrong; they’ve said it’s immoral.

Fredericks: One of the things the Ryan budget would cut is food stamps, which you call “business subsidies.” What do you mean by that?

Sister Simone: Many of the people who get food stamps are working full or part-time. So from my point of view, this isn’t charity. This isn’t something that we do because we don’t like to see hungry kids. Of course, it’s wrong to see hungry kids. But the fact is, these are business subsidies. We have a choice as a nation. We can either provide a real safety net so that workers can eat, or we can mandate a living wage. It’s a choice. Part of me would much rather go after a living wage. Our choice has been the safety net, but now they want to do away with that, and they blame the people receiving the benefits. Actually, it’s the people paying low wages that are the problem. But the choice has been made to allow businesses to pay low wages, to keep costs down and increase productivity. Many of these people that are using food stamps make a little bit above minimum wage and they still are in poverty. So food stamps are a business subsidy.

Fredericks: You call Ryan out on his interpretation of Catholic social teaching. Is there room for difference on this?

Sister Simone: Well, there’s room, but he’s got to be accurate! If you read Pope Benedict’s Charity in Truth, the encyclical from 2009, it’s abundantly clear that Paul Ryan is totally off base. Charity in Truth talks about how individual justice is one aspect. Then there’s social justice, which is equally important. Individual and social justice together makes the whole teaching. Paul Ryan talks a lot about the individual. His whole budget is about the individual and about shifting money to the top. Pope Benedict then goes on to talk about responsible economics, saying that corporations are not only obligated to their shareholders — they owe a duty to their workers, to their consumers, to the earth. This is the antithesis of what Ryan’s talking about.

Catholic social teaching is all about building community together, and he’s missed that point dramatically. I wish he would talk to us. That’s what I’d like to do is to talk to him. I’d like to say, “How are you thinking about this? What part of your Catholic social teaching did you miss? Did you ever hear about community?” Maybe we can get a summit. That’d be fun.

Fredericks: Tell us about your own personal journey. Who are your greatest influences?

As a kid growing up in Southern California, my sister and I were really influenced by the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King was our hero. We couldn’t understand what was going on in the South. It seemed so horrible, watching it on the TV. My dad was an engineer, so he liked gadgets. We had an early television in the neighborhood and everybody’d come over and we’d watch the news. I couldn’t believe the courage of those black kids going to school in a white community. I couldn’t understand how a white community could be hostile to people.

And then, we had this magical camp called Camp Mariastella where there were girls from all economic sectors in the Los Angeles basin, the wealthy and the poor and tract home kids like me. I had three friends; Jennifer, Lourdes and myself — we were the three musketeers. Jennifer lived in Bel Air, in a fancy house with a swimming pool, Lourdes lived in East L.A. in a barrio, and I lived in a tract home in Long Beach. I think that whole idea of coming together beyond the usual walls and boundaries was really magic for me.

Fredericks: What does being Catholic mean to you?

Sister Simone: To me it’s that amazing history of spiritual practice, social engagement, witnessing to the fact that Jesus lives in our world now and says that there is enough if we share. The miracle of the loaves and fishes — one of the accounts says 5,000 men ate. Well, the reason they only counted the men was the women and children knew it was the women who had brought all the food! Only the guys thought it was a miracle, the women knew it was about breaking bread and sharing it. This isn’t biblical — this is just my interpretation of it, but to me the miracle was sharing.
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Tue 14 Aug, 2012 11:24 am
The Nuns made the request to Romney and Ryan on August 9th, but they have not had a response yet. BBB

Catholic Nuns and Franciscans ask Romney and Ryan to spend a day with the poor
August 9, 2012
By: Robert Bowen

The Nuns from the Nuns on the Bus tour asked Mitt Romney yesterday to spend a day with them so he could understand the plight of the poor and what his policies would do to them. Sister Simone Campbell, President of NETWORK, a national social justice lobby, sent the invitation to Romney to “spend a day with Catholic Sisters who work every day to meet the needs of struggling families in their communities,”

If Romney were to accept their invitation, Campbell said she would take him to places like St. Augustine’s in Cleveland, where food programs “provide a hand up” to the community’s neediest members.

“He thinks they’re lazy,” Campbell said, in reference to Romney’s misleading welfare reform ad. “It is hard work to keep things together when you’re poor. He doesn’t have a clue. Let him talk to them, and maybe they’ll touch his heart. And his mind too.”

Sister Campbell said “Recent advertisements and statements from the campaign of Governor Romney demonize families in poverty and reflect woeful ignorance about the challenges faced by tens of millions of American families in these tough economic times,” stated Sister Simone Campbell. “We are all God’s children and equal in God’s eyes. Efforts to divide us by class or score political points at the expense of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters reveal the worst side of our country’s politics.”

Today, the Franciscan Action Network a group of Franciscan asked Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the author of the House GOP budget that bears his name, to join them in Milwaukee to “spend time with the poor.” Like NETWORK, the Franciscan Action Network took issue with the misleading ad about welfare reform the Romney campaign released this week.

“FAN is disturbed by the demeaning campaign ad and conversation about welfare by the Romney campaign,” it said in a release.

The group also criticized Romney for endorsing the House GOP budget, which cuts programs that benefit the poor and middle class. Romney’s ad is hypocritical, the group says, because it talks about “ensuring that low-income people are working” even as the Romney-endorsed GOP budget cuts job training programs for the poor.

Rhett Engelking, OFS, a lay Franciscan in Milwaukee, WI, who works with the poor in hunger relief and mental health, said “Wisconsin is getting a lot of attention as a swing state, and political leaders talking about the poor in demeaning ways while proposing to cut job training programs should spend time with the people they are affecting.”

The Ryan budget has been attacked by religious groups since its release in the spring. Religious leaders called it an “immoral disaster” that “robs the poor” when it was first released, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops circulated letters through Congress calling the budget’s cuts to food assistance programs “unjustified and wrong.”

Catholic nuns targeted the budget during a nine-state bus tour this summer despite suggestions by the Vatican that they were spending too much time on the poor and not enough time on contraception and gay marriage.

The attack ad Romney continues to approve falsely accusing Obama of eliminating the work requirement in the Welfare law has an underlying tone that demonizes the poor and attempts to rally the white Republican base with dog whistle statements. The ad’s intent is to anger whites by making them think that Obama is taking their money to give to people who don’t work.

Inherent in that charge is an underlying belief by Romney and Republican politicians that the poor are lazy and that is the reason they are poor. By asking Romney and Ryan to spend time with the poor, the Nuns and Friars hope to change their minds and hearts. They shouldn’t don’t hold their breath.

Romney and Ryan are all about the wealthy, not the poor or middle class. There is no changing their hearts unless Jesus himself pays them a visit. Then it is only a 50-50 proposition. Jesus won’t come with cash like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson.
Tue 14 Aug, 2012 11:29 am
The Battle Begins: Ryan Vs LGBT Rights, Catholic Bishops, More
Posted by: Bridgette P. LaVictoire
August 12, 2012.

“The House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.” stated the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to Representative Paul Ryan. Sister Simone Campbell stated that Ryan’s budget “rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good. That’s wrong.” The faculty of the Jesuit affiliated Georgetown University told Ryan that “Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.”

It has been twenty-four hours since the announcement of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate, and it still does not look good. From video of Ryan attacking the nation’s military leadership to the rank opposition to his budget from religious groups, Ryan could be a disaster, or at least as David Frum put it, a drag on the ticket.

The Romney Campaign has managed to set the world record for naming a running mate and then throwing him under the bus. Romney has already started to try and distance himself from the Ryan Budget even though he has recently praised it and even been said to be willing to sign it. Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, stated “Gov. Romney is at the top of the ticket. And Governor Romney’s vision for the country is something that Congressman Ryan supports.”

The Romney Campaign even sent out these talking points:

1) Does this mean Mitt Romney is adopting the Paul Ryan plan?

· Gov. Romney applauds Paul Ryan for going in the right direction with his budget, and as president he will be putting together his own plan for cutting the deficit and putting the budget on a path to balance.

· Romney’s administration will go through the budget line by line and ask two questions: Can we afford it? And, if not, should we borrow money from China to pay for it?

· Mitt Romney will start with the easiest cut of all: Obamacare, a trillion-dollar entitlement we don’t want and can’t afford.

· Mitt Romney also laid out commonsense reforms that will make good on our promises to today’s seniors and save Social Security and Medicare for future generations.

2) Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have different views on some policy areas — like Medicare spending, entitlement reform, labor, etc. — do you think those differences are going to hurt or help?

· Of course they aren’t going to have the same view on every issue. But they both share the view that this election is a choice about two fundamentally different paths for this country. President Obama has taken America down a path of debt and decline. Romney and Ryan believe in a path for America that leads to more jobs, less debt and smaller government. So, while you might find an issue or two where they might not agree, they are in complete agreement on the direction that they want to lead America

Which seems to be along the lines of someone saying that ‘we’re going to spin the Ryan Budget into something else, but we’re going to actually just stick with it.’ So far, Romney has been unwilling to do more than talk in generalizations about his plans for the economy and government hoping that no one will notice. This makes it very easy for the Democrats to attack the Romney Campaign using the Ryan Budget.

David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, called Ryan a “right wing ideologue”, and stated “It is a pick that is meant to thrill the most strident voices in the Republican Party, but it’s one that should trouble everybody else – the middle class, seniors, students.” Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, stated that “The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires and deep cuts in education, from Head Start to college aid. His plan would also end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors.”

Ryan, who used his father’s Social Security death benefits to go to college and has little in the way of private business experience, has had some praise and some defenders. Mark McKinnon at The Daily Beast stated:

A failure to act. A terrible, stunning legacy for any leader. But far worse when it is the president of the United States. And that’s the point driven home by Mitt Romney’s selection of the young Paul Ryan as his running mate. For Ryan dared to lead when Barack Obama did not.

After more than three years of what promised to be a historic, transcendent presidency, the nation still faces record unemployment, with nearly $16 trillion in debt and the looming insolvency of Social Security and Medicare. Yet Congress is paralyzed. And the president appears powerless to heal divides or change the direction of the country.

McKinnon apparently forgets the fact that Obama did lead, but that the Republicans did everything in their power to undermine and block Obama’s attempts at leadership. What is more, Ryan appears to be leading in the same way that the 7th Earl Cardigan lead. For those who do not know him, he was the Lieutenant General who lead one of the most celebrated defeats in military history- the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Romney Campaign surrogates are already trying to spin the Ryan VP nomination into something that they can use or at least deflect from. For instance, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus stated that Obama “stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. If any person in this entire debate has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it’s Barack Obama. He is the one that’s destroying Medicare.”

This is, of course, a blatant lie. The reduction in money going to Medicare are not cuts, but reductions in spending as people are shifted off of Medicare into other insurance structures. The Huffington Post notes that:

Republicans frequently use this Medicare talking point, even though it’s false. While the Affordable Care Act does reduce Medicare spending, as Politifact has explained, “Those dollars aren’t taken out of the current budget, they are not actual cuts, and nowhere does the bill actually eliminate any current benefits.”

Instead of targeting beneficiaries, the spending cuts largely come from reduced payments to hospitals, discounts on prescription drugs and cuts to private insurers under Medicare Advantage.

With regards to his social views, Paul Ryan stated in his acceptance of the nomination that “Our rights come from nature and from God, not government. That’s who we are. We promise equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.” This, of course, flies in the face of what the Founding Fathers believed.

With regards to LGBT rights, Ryan would rather not talk about them. In this video, at around 1:55, Ryan downplays the importance of marriage equality. He also voted against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, no longer supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and wants a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. In 2007, he stated that gays do not have a choice in being gay, but we are not sure if that is his position today. Of course, his theocratic views of government means that he would rather ignore the idea that LGBT people are born that way and, instead, punish them for being born as they are.
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