The religion reporter at NPR looked at the relationship developing between vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and the Catholic church. Not a happy relationship.
[Ryan] told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network that he found justification for his budget plan — which lowered taxes and cut services to the poor — in Catholic social teaching.
"The preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means: Don't keep people poor; don't make people dependent on government so they stay stuck in their station in life," Ryan told CBN. "Help people get out of poverty [and] on to a life of independence."
The reaction from some Catholic theologians was swift and brutal.
"That's not the Jesus I know," says the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center. "Jesus said we should feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked."
Reese agrees that the Catholic principle of "subsidiarity" does favor the smaller units, such as families, churches or charities, solving problems. But it also sees a role for government — especially now, when so many people are out of work.
"A budget that cuts food stamps, that cuts Medicaid, can't be called a budget that follows Catholic social teaching of the Gospels," Reese says.
They're coming at Ryan from all sides. In a comparison of Catholic rivals, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, CNN has a British Catholic historian's view:
Biden and Ryan present opportunities and challenges for their tickets. Biden will appeal to those Catholics (some say, a silent majority) who define themselves as faithful but who are also tolerant of cultural difference. But precisely because his appeal isn't strictly religious, it may fail to stir excitement on the campaign trail.
For Ryan, the visibility of his faith won't be a problem. But he will have to find a way of expanding its appeal beyond social conservatives. As former Bush strategist Deal Hudson writes, he still has to find a way of reconciling his fiscal conservatism to Catholicism's empathy for the powerless and poor. If he sticks to purely moral themes, while also pushing for budget cuts, his brand of Catholic fervor may come across as all fire and brimstone and no heart. In an age of recession, that may not generate the votes that he and Romney need to win. ...CNN
Of course, it comes down to whether the Romney-Ryan ticket represents -- in any way whatsoever -- "heart."