Open Letter to Speaker Paul D. Ryan

October 30, 2015

Dear Speaker Ryan,

Congratulations on your election to Speaker of the House. As you are well aware, we are in a period of great importance for our nation, and your election is highly significant for the future of all the people who rely on your leadership. This is surely not an easy task, but we are hopeful that we can work together to make progress on this goal.

We at NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby look forward to seeing a familiar face in the Speaker’s office. We value having a leader of the House of Representatives who listens to the message of the Gospel, is familiar the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching, and truly wants to make this country a better place for its residents. Though we may differ on many of the policy solutions, we desire the same result, a nation that cares for those who are vulnerable, elderly, sick, immigrants— a thriving nation made up of strong communities.

We agree with you that the House of Representatives “represents the best of America, the boundless opportunity to do good.” We know you have made poverty a special focus of your work over the past few of years. We are grateful that you and other colleagues are giving this issue extra attention in Congress. As Pope Francis said:

“Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons.”

Catholic sisters, including the founders of NETWORK, have been serving and accompanying families and individuals on the economic margins for centuries. We are moved to do this work by our belief that all are made in the image of God. Our common belief in the Dignity of the Human Person means that all women, men, and children are worthy of care and having their basic needs met. We are jointly motivated by the principle of theOption for the Poor and Vulnerable, which calls us to consider the needs of those who are most marginalized and most vulnerable before any other considerations. The Catholic faith we share with you inspires us to work for a nation where all can live safe, healthy, and fulfilled lives. We have faith that you will try to live out this sacred trust as Speaker, and we hope that you will legislate to make sure the needs of all our sisters and brothers are met.

There are many challenges we must overcome to reach that society. Last year more than 45 million people experienced poverty in the United States, over 30 million people did not have health insurance, and over 15 million children lived in food-insecure households. We strongly feel, as Pope Francis said in his address to Congress, “Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” and “an integrated approach to combating poverty.” We will continue our work on Capitol Hill; lobbying for policies that combat poverty and contribute to a culture of care, and we invite you to join us in this undertaking.

Congratulations again. We look forward to working with you, Speaker Ryan.

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