A PRIESTLY LETTER TO SPEAKER PAUL RYAN FROM
REV. DR. MATTHEW FOX
Dear Speaker and Congressman Ryan,
As a priest who commemorates his 50th year in the priesthood this year (28 as a Roman Catholic and 22 as an Episcopalian), and as your elder, I am writing you this letter because I am worried about your soul.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
We all know you take good care of your body, working out frequently in the congressional gym we taxpayers provide for those in Congress, and that is a good thing. But I am concerned that you are neglecting your soul. It too requires work-outs and practice to stay healthy.
You claim to be a good and practicing Catholic Christian but I have serious doubts that you are. Our Christian beliefs include these words of Jesus after all: “What does it profit a person if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” These powerful words are surely important for anyone serving in public office or any other places of responsibility, whether in government or business or church or wherever. Yes, they even apply to your close buddies the Koch brothers, upon whom you depend so fully for your income and ideas and campaigns and job.
You see, another passage that grounds Catholicism and Christianity is found in Matthew 25: “Do it to the least and you do it to me.” Not to mention he golden Rule which is found in Matthew 7:12 and is reflected in some form in every world religion since the time of Hammurabi: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Now I want to ask from a spiritual and theological perceptive how you can possibly reconcile these basic teachings of the Gospels with your continued efforts to create budgets for our entire nation that do the following:
1. Threaten to privatize and thereby destroy Social Security for elders and disabled people.
2. Destroy critical health support systems for the sick, handicapped, mentally disabled, and homeless by effectively scuttling Medicare and Medicaid.
THE HOMELESS AND THE POOR
3. Dismantle the EPA so that the rest of God’s sacred creation is imperiled by human narcissism (Pope Francis’ words). Have you not read Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si that teaches everyone–believer and non-believer alike–that we humans are not here to destroy but to support creation for the good of all beings on earth now and in the future? If you have studied this great document–as you must as a thinking believer–where is it to be found in your legislative agenda?
Another Biblical teaching is the warning that we are not to worship idols. But Wall Street is a purveyor of the idolatry of money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer in that system.
POPE FRANCIS I
Pope Francis has spoken to that truth also when he speaks of the “savage capitalism” and the “god of money” that dominates so much of decision-making in western culture.
Your naked efforts to give more and more tax breaks to billionaires like your supporters the Koch brothers is proof that you have up to now chosen to be on the side of the savage capitalists and the gods of money. Have you no shame? Have you no conscience? Do your faith and Jesus’ teachings mean nothing to you because you are mesmerized by power and the powerful?
Do you not know–or do you simply not care–that when the uber-rich do not pay their fair share, the struggling poor and middle class must pay from their meager resources to subsidize the rich? And when the uber-rich get still more tax breaks, the poor and middle class are forced to make up the difference?
Meanwhile, until you and your party pay attention at last to these basic issues, I as a Christian priest and theologian can only conclude that you are not at all a Catholic or a Christian but just one more hypocrite flaunting your bogus religion on your sleeve to garner more votes and stay in a cushy job while you sell your soul to the Koch brothers and other Wall Street misers. People who don’t have a clue about the “weightier matters of the Law–justice, compassion, good faith!” (Mt. 23:23) that Jesus preached, and who could not care less.
Jesus has something to say about that too, remember? It was strong stuff. He was speaking to you, Paul Ryan, and your fellow politicians when he said, “Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who are like whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of corruption. In the same way you appear to people from the outside like good honest men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness….You are the sons of those who murdered the prophets.” (Mt 23.27-28,31).
I hope and pray that you and your fellow politicians, Mr. Ryan, so beholden to the rich and uber-rich, might heed Jesus’ words. And if not, at least do him the courtesy of not invoking his name to justify your lawlessness.
Sincerely in Christ’s name,
Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox
REV. DR. MATTHEW FOX
[The Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox’s communication was described as an “open letter,” and its subsequent publication places it in the public domain. Illustrations by Pixabay and Google have been added by the Editor. Dr. Fox fully documented his statements in the original text. Those who wish to see additional documentation and sources Dr. Fox used may contact Columnist with a View (www.columnistwithaview.com) and we will be more that happy to supply that material. Matthew Fox currently resides in Oakland, California. Formerly a Catholic priest and presently an Episcopal priest, Fox is arguably the most important theologian of our time. He is certainly amongst the most controversial. A spiritual theologian and religious scholar, he has dedicated much of his life to developing/recovering the tradition of Creation Spirituality.]