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SOMERS — Marquette University theology professor Daniel Maguire is no stranger to controversy.
Two years ago he wrote a flaming editorial, headlined “Why Pope Benedict must resign,” that brought him nationwide attention.
On Monday, he brought that firebrand attitude to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in a speech titled “A Critique of Congressman Paul Ryan’s claim that his ‘Path to Prosperity’ reflects Catholic social doctrine.”
“Paul Ryan is a mean-spirited little man who is fighting the poor,” Maguire said. “Paul Ryan is a fraud and a really stupid fraud.”
Speaking to about 100 people, most of them senior citizens, Maguire took offense at the idea that the Republican budget plan should be supported by Catholics and “will provide more help for the poor and the sick,” as Ryan argued in an editorial on March 5.
“This budget targets Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, preschool programs, Head Start, mortgage guarantees and student loans,” Maguire said. “Where your budget is, where your treasure is, I get a look inside your heart. And it is ugly.”
Maguire also argued that taxes are not a bad thing.
“Romans 13:7 says, ‘Pay taxes to whom taxes are due.’ Taxes are the price for living in a civilized world; they are a beautiful way of participation in a common life,” he said.
Last summer, Ryan wrote an editorial for the Catholic magazine “Our Sunday Visitor” in which he paraphrased Pope John Paul II: “The dignity of the human person, said Blessed Pope John Paul II, is compromised when bureaucratic ways of thinking — which he dubbed the ‘welfare state’ or ‘social assistance state’ — dominate our lives with heartless regulations and impersonal rationing.”
Maguire said on Monday that helping the poor is the whole point of Christianity, and that Ryan is a “fraud.”
“Jesus said, ‘From now on in, this mission is good news for the poor,’” Maguire said. “The world’s religions are left-wing movements. Their obsessions are the poor, justice, peace and an obsession with the corruption that comes with wealth and power.”
Maguire said that Ryan, and other prominent Republicans, including Rep. John Boehner of Ohio and presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, try to hide their true goals of shoveling money at the rich by taking “refuge in religion, the last refuge of scoundrels.”
Ryan’s office said Monday that the representative believes President Barack Obama’s “reckless fiscal policies guarantee a debt-fueled economic crisis, which will hurt the poor first and the worst.”
“Catholic social teaching calls for preferential option for the poor, not a preferential option for bigger government,” said Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert. “Congressman Ryan believes the federal government ought to serve the needs of the poor by enhancing upward mobility, expanding economic growth and opportunity, and promoting the dignity of those who have fallen on hard times with the help they need and the respect they deserve.”
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