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A group of American bishops may have criticized Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan for going against Church doctrine on helping the poor, but the Wisconsin Republican says that their boss, the Pope, is in his corner.
Reuters reports that Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, defended his controversial budget plan (which slashes funds for food aid, Medicaid, and education grants in order to reduce the deficit) on Thursday by citing a Catholic organizing principle called "subsidiarity." Essentially, it dictates that tasks should be performed on a lower, local level, taken up only by a central authority if necessary. Subsidiarity is a central principle of the current Pope's social teachings.
"The Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has charged that governments, communities, and individuals running up high debt levels are 'living at the expense of future generations' and 'living in untruth,'" Ryan said in a speech at Georgetown University.
Ryan noted the he himself is a Catholic, and explained that his "own personal thinking on these issues has been guided by my understanding of the church's social teaching," adding, "simply put, I don't believe the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government."
As the Washington Post notes, the The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 62 percent of Ryan's proposed budget cuts (which total $5.3 trillion) come from programs serving low-income Americans.
Ryan's budget was approved by the House of Representatives in March.