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The organization for Franciscan Friars issued a press release, today, calling for Mitt Romney to speak with greater dignity for the poor, representing a greater willingness on the part of people of faith to call for political leaders to show more compassion for those in need, as has been a long tradition of many communities of faith.  Franciscans "ask Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan to spend time with the poor of Milwaukee," so they can be more in touch with those in need.  

The Franciscan Action Network published this call today.

WASHINGTON, DC — August 8, 2012 — The Franciscan Action Network (FAN), an organization of Franciscan friars and sisters and lay Franciscans, is disturbed by the demeaning campaign ad and conversation about welfare by the Romney campaign. Franciscans, and Christians everywhere, follow Jesus who came to "preach good news to the poor" (Luke 4:18). Our Christian tradition teaches that we are to treat the poor with dignity and to prioritize the poor in our policies as a society. At a time when millions are struggling financially, it is degrading to talk about the “dependency” of people hurting in this economy, as Gov. Romney did recently.

Thank goodness we are hearing a voice of compassion from traditional communities of faith calling on political leaders to keep to the traditions many people of faith have lead for a long, long time.  I hope other representatives of other communities of faith follow this lead, and remind us all of the historic role people of faith have played in caring for those most in need.

The Franciscan's full press release is below the fold.

Full Text of Press Release from the Franciscan's "Call for Governor Romney to Speak With Greater Dignity for the Poor."  

FAN - Press Releases
Franciscans Call for Gov. Romney to Speak with Greater Dignity for the Poor
Ask Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan to Spend Time with the Poor in Milwaukee
August 08, 2012 12:00 PM EST
[Washington, D.C.] – The Franciscan Action Network (FAN), an organization of Franciscan friars and sisters and lay Franciscans, is disturbed by the demeaning campaign ad and conversation about welfare by the Romney campaign. Franciscans, and Christians everywhere, follow Jesus who came to "preach good news to the poor" (Luke 4:18). Our Christian tradition teaches that we are to treat the poor with dignity and to prioritize the poor in our policies as a society. At a time when millions are struggling financially, it is degrading to talk about the "dependency" of people hurting in this economy, as Gov. Romney did recently.

Beyond these messages, the deeper problem is the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and supported by Gov. Romney. This proposal balances the budget on the backs of the poor with cuts to Medicaid, Head Start, Pell Grants and other vital programs. Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of FAN said, "With the political conversation now on ensuring that low-income people are working, the most blatant affront is that the Romney-Ryan Budget actually cuts job training programs for low-income people." The Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce (CIAW) estimates that the Ryan Budget would cut funding for education and job training programs by more than $16 billion (22 percent), including for the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs. [1]

Rhett Engelking, OFS, a lay Franciscan in Milwaukee, Wisc., who works with the poor in hunger relief and mental health, invites both Gov. Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (whose district is nearby) to spend time with the poor in Milwaukee and with the Franciscans who work with them. He said, "Political leaders would not talk about the poor in demeaning ways or cut job training programs if they spent more time with the people they are affecting with their policies." FAN extends the invitation to all candidates for national office to spend time with Franciscans working alongside the poor in order to understand what real people are going through.

Franciscans ask that both rhetoric and policy be made more just and dignified for all Americans, as well as the poor around the world. Franciscan friar Fr. Joe Nangle, OFM, said, "We ask our political leaders to not sow hatred of the poor, but to speak with compassion. Our national leaders should aim to follow the spirit of The Prayer of St. Francis, which is loved by people of all faiths:

Lord, make me a channel of your peace;

Where there is hatred (of the poor), let me sow love.”

[1] Official Blog of the National League of Cities. March 28, 2012. http://citiesspeak.org/...
.....
Contact Information:
Patrick Carolan
pcarolan@franciscanaction.org
202-527-7565

6:15 PM PT: I wanted to let the Franciscan Friars to speak for themselves in the main body of my post, so kept my comments to a minimum,  But, here I would like to add that my father studied six year at Saint Benedict to become a priest, but did not take his final vows, so only received his B.A. there.  After his departure from The Catholic Church he became a pilot in the Navy, a  computer scientist, and scientific humanist, but my mother is a Southern Baptist, but a caring and loving person, unlike those we often see portrayed in the modern press.  

From what I gathered from him, and many other sources I read growing up, the Catholic Church, and many of its followers have a long history of taking care of poor people when no one else would, and that the image many get of so many red-state churches is not representative of the majority of communities of faith, or even Christianity.  

So it has been puzzling to see so many on the right talk and many of their churches talk  about poverty as if it were a demeaning character flaw, sign of moral failure, and sign of individual and "cultural inferiority."

And, why I am encouraged to see this press release from the Franciscans   who are I think an ancient sub-set of Catholics who follow Saint Francis of Assisi.  I do not know much about the Franciscans, but the followers of Saint Benedict are not only into compassion for the poor, but even take a vow of poverty and service themselves.    


7:22 PM PT: HuffPo has a more blistering recount of this press release, and they contacted the organization for details that are worth a read.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...

WASHINGTON-- The Franciscan Action Network (FAN), a Catholic faith-based advocacy and civic engagement organization, is strongly criticizing Mitt Romney's recent ads and rhetoric regarding welfare programs and welfare recipients, urging him to spend some time in low-income communities.

"Our Christian tradition teaches that we are to treat the poor with dignity and to prioritize the poor in our policies as a society," the organization said in a press release on Thursday. "At a time when millions are struggling financially, it is degrading to talk about the 'dependency' of people hurting in this economy, as Gov. Romney did recently."

In April, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote a series of letters to congressional lawmakers criticizing the Ryan budget, saying that fair budget solutions "must require shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and fairly addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs."

"The House-passed budget resolution," the Bishops said in the letter, "fails to meet these moral criteria."

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