Paul Ryan Forces Out Catholic Priest as House Chaplain

The Hill reports:

House Chaplain Patrick Conroy’s sudden resignation has sparked a furor on Capitol Hill, with sources in both parties saying he was pushed out by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Conroy’s own resignation announcement stated that it was done at Ryan’s request…

Four different sources — two from each party — say Conroy was told that he must retire or that he would be dismissed.

The message from Ryan was delivered by his chief of staff, Jonathan Burks….

A Democratic lawmaker said that the Speaker took issue with a prayer on the House floor that could have been perceived as being critical of the GOP tax-cut bill.

On Nov. 6 — the first day of the markup on the GOP’s tax bill — Conroy in a prayer urged lawmakers to ensure the legislation did not exacerbate the nation’s gaping class disparities.

“May all Members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle,” Conroy said at the time. “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

A senior GOP aide said Conroy’s exit “was not because of any particular prayer.”…

A second Democratic aide said Conroy’s ouster was “largely driven by a speech on the tax bill that the Speaker didn’t like.” But the source also offered a second reason.

“Some of the more conservative evangelical Republicans didn’t like that the Father had invited a Muslim person to give the opening prayer,” the source said.

Paul Ryan, who is Catholic, credited Ayn Rand, not his faith or Thomas Aquinas, as the reason he got involved in politics. A number of writers have recently written articles that explain why Paul Ryan is still this same Paul Ryan. This initial report seems to align with such analysis.

George W. Bush Breaks from Tradition, Challenges Trump on Media, Russian Interference, Islam

Former presidents often avoid criticizing their successors in office, but George W. Bush has broken from that trend this week. In response to a question about Donald Trump referring to the mainstream media as the enemy of the American people, Bush defended the media’s key role as a democratic check on power:

I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy—that we need an independent media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive. And it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.

Bush noted that undermining the press at home damages our ability to promote freedom of the press abroad.

Bush also said that “we all need answers,” in response to a question of whether or not there is a need for an investigation into the connection between the Russian government and the Trump presidential campaign.

President Bush also set himself apart from President Trump by drawing a clear distinction between Islam as a whole and the (Islamist) ideologues who murder the innocent.

You can watch the full segment here:

Republicans and the Refugee Ban

A recent poll shows that 82% of Republicans support Donald Trump’s (currently suspended) refugee ban. The depth of this support, particularly among so many who identify as Christian, should not be ignored—it is deeply troubling and highlights why Trump pushed for measures that fly in the face of our highest American ideals. But these numbers are not the full story. There are still conservatives and Republicans who not only support the idea of welcoming refugees, but are doing it in the most tangible way.

America Media has a new video highlighting a Republican man who welcomed a family of refugees from Afghanistan into his home. It is an important reminder that the Republican Party is not monolithic and that there are conservative reasons for welcoming refugees to our country:

Reactions to the First Presidential Debate of 2016

We encouraged all of our writers and readers to analyze last night’s debate through the prism of Catholic social teaching. While we have seen a great deal of discontent about both presidential candidates among those who share Millennial’s commitment to human dignity, the sanctity of life, social justice, free democracy, and universal human rights, the overwhelming response to this debate on social media was centered on criticism of Donald Trump, along with some praise for Clinton’s positions on various social justice issues. This may reflect Clinton’s strong lead among Catholics, the total exclusion of abortion and a few other important issues from the debate, and that many center-right proponents of Catholic social teaching are #NeverTrump (even those who are also #NeverHillary). The highlights in this twitter round-up reflect this:

The Fight for a Big Tent Democratic Party

QuotesCover-pic29Kristen Day and Charles Camosy write about the Democratic Party’s extreme abortion plank in the LA Times:

The abortion plank in the 2016 Democratic platform effectively marginalizes the voices of 21 million pro-life Democrats. It means the party that is supposedly on the side of justice for the vulnerable no longer welcomes those of us who #ChooseBoth; that is, those of us who want the government to protect and support prenatal children and their mothers.

Most significantly, the platform calls for the repeal of the Hyde and Helms amendments, which prevent taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions. This would force those who object to abortion to contribute to what we believe would be government-funded killing, and it would eradicate policies that have already saved hundreds of thousands of lives….

The future of the Democratic Party depends on its diversity, its ability to remain inclusive. The 2016 platform language on abortion torpedoes those goals.

Russell Moore and Michael Wear in USA Today on the Democratic Party’s need to reverse this mistake:

For the past 25 years, the Democratic Party, at least rhetorically, acknowledged that compelling taxpayers to fund abortions was a step too far in the culture wars. If the call to repeal the Hyde Amendment remains in the Democratic platform, that era is officially over. A party that calls for government funding of abortion does not merely disagree with pro-life Americans, but wants to implicate them through their government of supporting what they believe is a moral evil….

As taxpayers, our money goes toward all kinds of things we do not personally support. It is part of living in a pluralistic society. Even so, for 40 years, our government and our people have decided to respect abortion as a unique moral issue. The Democrats should reverse course and remove opposition to Hyde from their platform. Wherever you stand on abortion, forcing people to pay for it can’t be good for Democrats, or for democracy.

Kristen Day in an interview with Aleteia:

Regarding abortion, we believe that the answer to a crisis pregnancy is to eliminate the crisis—not the child.

We don’t believe women should have to “choose” between motherhood and a decent, safe life.  We believe it is going to take emphasis on the support side, which Democrats are good on, to truly give women real choice. A livable wage, affordable children care, paid leave, and flexible hours all help families who are faced with an unplanned or planned pregnancy….

We are pro-life Democrats because we truly believe in protecting prenatal children and we believe that to reduce abortion we must address poverty in all its forms.

Since we believe the Democratic Party is more focused on addressing social needs, we are convinced that the pro-life position is a great fit for the party.  We plan to stay active and work to convince our party to embrace a consistent life position of protection—from womb to tomb. It is really the sensible position for Democrats.

And Crux:

During the debate on the Affordable Care Act, even those considered pro-choice were eager to support limits on abortion. This could have been a major turning point for the party. Two things happened. Republicans saw the danger of an inclusive, big-tent Democratic Party when the pro-life Democrats helped pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The abortion lobby saw this danger too. Neither liked to see the strength of the pro-life Democratic caucus.

Instead of embracing the pro-life Democrats for unifying behind this crowning achievement for Democrats, the party treated them with disdain. Many of the Stupak 18 were ostracized by party leaders and party activists. At the same time, Republicans saw this opportunity to knock the pro-life Democrats out of the purple seats by claiming the ACA was the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.

This combined effort resulted in 88 percent of the seats once held by Democrats who opposed taxpayer funding of abortion becoming solid red seats….

It does seem that way. Many in the current leadership would rather be a minority party than include pro-life democrats and/or do not fully understand that pushing pro-life democrats away has caused us to lose numerous opportunities and majorities around the country….

We cannot legitimately claim the mantle of the “big tent’ party of diversity and inclusion when we openly say that we don’t want pro-life voters. People are celebrating that our party is more progressive, but fail to recognize that people didn’t change their opinions – the party is just smaller because we do not support, nor want to include, the voices of moderate and pro-life democrats.

Pro-life Democrats Hit Back at Democratic Platform’s Extremism on Abortion

13599899_1144580945562241_64976429325294662_nvia Jacob Lupfer:

The platform Democratic convention delegates will adopt in Philadelphia later this month will be more pro-choice than ever before, ceding even less to Americans who oppose abortion rights or have moral concerns about the procedure.

Upon learning that the Platform Committee called for eliminating the Hyde Amendment, a legislative procedure that generally prohibits Medicaid from funding elective abortions, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said, “That’s crazy.” Manchin cited the fact that most Democrats in West Virginia disagree with federal funding for abortions, as do most Americans.

Via The Hill:

Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat from Pennsylvania who opposes abortion, was concerned enough about the change to write a letter to the platform committee urging members to reconsider.

“This is a consensus-based policy that has, for many years, prohibited the use of federal funds to pay for abortion,” Casey wrote in a letter sent Friday to the platform committee and obtained by The Hill.

He said the Hyde Amendment recognizes “that many Americans remain morally opposed to abortion, and do not wish to see their tax dollars go to pay for abortion.”…

Representatives for two other prominent anti-abortion Democratic senators confirmed to The Hill on Monday that they were opposed to their party platform’s proposal to repeal the Hyde Amendment.

“Senator Donnelly has long supported and continues to support the Hyde Amendment, and as a pro-life Senator believes all life is sacred,” said Sarah Rothschild, spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

Via Michael O’Loughlin:

After an unsuccessful effort to get delegates to amend the platform language on abortion before it goes to a full vote in Philadelphia, which included an online petition, Day said she will urge party leaders to look beyond winning the White House.

“You can’t rely on the White House to pass things like paid leave, or Medicaid for all, or increased access to health care, or a minimum wage increase,” she told America, referring to other issues she believes are important to the pro-life cause. “You can’t pass any of those things when you have Republican majorities in the rest of the country. You can’t just rely on the White House, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Day pointed to substantial Democratic losses at the state and national levels following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which contained provisions to increase access to contraception, including methods church leaders consider abortifacients. “We can’t pass more laws to support pregnant women and working families and protect this ‘Whole Life’ point of view if we’re in the minority,” she said. “In swing districts, the pro-life vote can make a difference.”

During the convention, Day’s group will unveil a report that she said shows that the party’s extreme views on abortion are out of touch with most of the U.S. electorate and is thus harming progressive goals.

The Hunger Crisis in Venezuela

The New York Times reports on the food crisis in Venezuela, where authoritarian ideologues have once again created disastrous living conditions:

With delivery trucks under constant attack, the nation’s food is now transported under armed guard. Soldiers stand watch over bakeries. The police fire rubber bullets at desperate mobs storming grocery stores, pharmacies and butcher shops. A 4-year-old girl was shot to death as street gangs fought over food.

Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.

Hundreds of people here in the city of Cumaná, home to one of the region’s independence heroes, marched on a supermarket in recent days, screaming for food. They forced open a large metal gate and poured inside. They snatched water, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, potatoes, anything they could find, leaving behind only broken freezers and overturned shelves.

And they showed that even in a country with the largest oil reserves in the world, it is possible for people to riot because there is not enough food.

In the last two weeks alone, more than 50 food riots, protests and mass looting have erupted around the country. Scores of businesses have been stripped bare or destroyed. At least five people have been killed….

The economic collapse of recent years has left it unable to produce enough food on its own or import what it needs from abroad. Cities have been militarized under an emergency decree from President Nicolás Maduro, the man Mr. Chávez picked to carry on with his revolution before he died three years ago….

A staggering 87 percent of Venezuelans say they do not have money to buy enough food, the most recent assessment of living standards by Simón Bolívar University found….

Using emergency decrees he signed this year, the president put most food distribution in the hands of a group of citizen brigades loyal to leftists, a measure critics say is reminiscent of food rationing in Cuba.