Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has announced that the outspoken pro-life Catholic Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin will be his running mate for the 2012 election.
The two men appeared together the morning of Aug. 11 in Norfolk, Va. at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard at the base of the USS Wisconsin, a retired battleship.
“Paul Ryan is a leader,” Romney said. “His leadership begins with character and values.”
The former Massachusetts governor praised the seven-term congressman as “a faithful Catholic” who “believes in the worth and dignity of every human life.”
“I am deeply honored and excited to join you as your running mate,” Rep. Ryan told Romney, saying that the two “will restore the dreams and greatness of this country.”
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, and Cathy Ruse, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, praised the decision.
“Governor Romney could not have chosen a better person to run with than Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan is not only 100 percent pro-life, he is a full spectrum conservative and thoroughly unafraid in expressing conservative and pro-life views,” they told CNA Aug. 11.
“We cannot wait to see him debate Vice-President Biden.”
The Ruses lauded Rep. Ryan as “a Catholic who takes his faith seriously,” and said he is “perfectly situated” to defend religious freedom “in this season of easy anti-Catholicism.”
Wisconsin Right to Life said Rep. Ryan has been a featured speaker at its events and is “a wonderful friend.”
Rep. Ryan, 44, lives in Janesville, Wis. with his wife, Janna, his daughter Liza and his two sons Charlie and Sam. He is a member of St. John Vianney Catholic Church.
If the congressman's nomination is ratified at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. this September, he will become the second Catholic vice presidential nominee ever to run on the Republican ticket.
Catholic deacon Keith Fournier, writing at Catholic Online, said the crowd at the Norfolk announcement event was “massive, enthusiastic and hopeful.”
He called Rep. Ryan “a talented public servant, a truly good family man, a faithful, genuinely pro-life Catholic” and “a great communicator.”
Elected to Congress in 1998, the representative explained his pro-life position in a Feb. 2010 issue of the Heritage Foundation publication “Indivisible.”
“I cannot believe any official or citizen can still defend the notion that an unborn human being has no rights that an older person is bound to respect,” he said.
“ I do know that we cannot go on forever feigning agnosticism about who is human. As Thomas Jefferson wrote, 'The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.'”
Ryan has become known for his advocacy of budget cuts, sometimes prompting concern from leading Catholic bishops who say that the cuts will adversely affect the most vulnerable.
The congressman has contended that the poor are hurt more by extreme levels of government debt than by budget reductions. He defended his fiscal positions against critics in an April 2012 lecture at Georgetown University that cited Catholic social teaching principles of subsidiarity and solidarity. He charged that “government-centered” approaches to poverty have failed.
In 2002, he voted in favor of authorizing military force against Iraq. The military action removed Saddam Hussein from power at the cost of tens of thousands dead, including over 4,400 American troops. The aftermath of the Iraq war has caused major disruptions in the country as hundreds of thousands of people, especially Iraqi Christians, have fled their homes for fear of violence.
Rep. Ryan has signed the National Organization of Marriage’s pledge to defend marriage as a union of a man and a woman and to seek the appointment of judges who will defend marriage.
He has generally voted against legislation favored by gay advocacy groups. However, in 2007 he voted in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have treated discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity the same as racial discrimination under federal law.
In 2010, the U.S. bishops voiced “serious concerns” that the proposal would give special protections to sexual conduct outside of marriage, threaten religious freedom and punish Catholic teachings as discriminatory.
Rep. Ryan has been a vocal opponent of the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring most employers, including many Catholic institutions, to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.
In a Feb. 9 appearance on The Laura Ingraham Show, he characterized the mandate as a conflict between constitutional rights and “government-granted rights.”
“This is a teachable moment for Americans who see that their constitutional rights could be next,” he said.