.- Ahead of House Speaker John Boehnerâs May 14 commencement address at the Catholic University of America, over 75 professors from Catholic universities have written a letter criticizing the Ohio Republicanâs budget proposal.
However, the letter itself drew criticism.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said with some sarcasm that it was âdelightful to learn that all of these professors are now on record expressing fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church.â
He was dismissive towards the letterâs authors, saying they are ânot representative of Catholic sentiment.â
The letter from academics said Boehnerâs voting record is at variance from the ancient Christian teaching that those in power are âmorally obliged to preference the needs of the poor.â
âYour record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress,â they charged.
The letter said the 2012 budget Boehner supported is âparticularly cruelâ to pregnant women and children, as it cuts $500 million from the Women Infants and Children nutrition program. The letter also criticized the budgetâs cuts to Medicaid and Medicare and its â$3 trillion in new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.â
Stephen F. Schneck, director of Catholic University of Americaâs Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, helped draft the letter.
The signatories included many of the universityâs faculty as well as Fr. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., of Georgetown Universityâs Woodstock Theological Center; Lisa Sowle Cahill, a theology professor at Boston College; and Francis X. Doyle, former associate general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Schneck is on the board of directors of the Democratic-leaning group Catholics In Alliance for the Common Good, while Cahill and Fr. Reese are on the groupâs advisory council.
Donohue defended Boehner, noting that Boehner is pro-life. The speakerâs support for school vouchers for residents of Washington, D.C. shows his âstrong commitmentâ to the poor.
The Catholic League president said that Schneck had signed a 2009 letter praising the nomination of abortion rights supporter Kathleen Sebelius as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services. He also supported the 2010 health care legislation over the objections of the U.S. bishops.
Catholic University spokesman Victor Nakas said that the decision to invite Speaker Boehner and give him an honorary degree was made by the universityâs president, John Garvey, and approved by its trustees, who include prominent bishops and cardinals.
Discussing the issues of the professorsâ letter, Nakas said, â(t)here are diverse viewpoints on these questions not only within our university but also within the Catholic community,â the New York Times reported.
A spokesman for Boehner said that the speaker will deliver âa personal, non-political messageâ that he hopes will speak to all members of the graduating class.