PRESS RELEASE: Catholics to Paul Ryan: It Takes More Than a Photo-Op to Solve Poverty

Posted October 17, 2012

Congressman Ryan “helps out” at a faith-based soup kitchen in Youngstown to whitewash his devastating budget proposal

CINCINNATI – Last weekend, the Republican vice presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, made an unannounced stop at a northeast Ohio soup kitchen run by the local St. Vincent de Paul Society. In his brief stop, Rep. Ryan set up a photo opportunity: he rolled up his sleeves and got to work cleaning a few pots and pans and quickly met the remaining patrons served by the establishment. The clicking cameras of the press pool captured every moment depicting Congressman Ryan serving the less fortunate.

But, sadly, it was all for show.

The charity’s president, Brian Antal, said the entire event was an after hours political stunt, the candidate “ramrodded” himself and his staff into the situation and ultimately brought partisanship into a place where it didn’t belong.

“It’s a statute of 501(c)(3) (law) that we don’t get involved in politics,” Antal said. “(We’re) a faith-based organization.”

Antal was audibly shaken while discussing the event and subsequent coverage that has occurred. He said he is worried this situation and the attention from it could bring negative consequences to the mission of the charity and the St. Vincent de Paul Society as a whole.

“Representative Ryan tried to use the poor, and those who serve them, as a political prop,” said James Salt, executive director of Catholics United. “From a man who has done so much to undermine the work of public-private partnerships and faith-based groups, this is an incredibly cynical move.”

Sr. Simone Campbell, the executive director of NETWORK Lobby and “Nuns on the Bus” leader, has repeatedly invited Rep. Ryan to meet and experience first-hand how his budget proposals will affect charities similar to the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Youngstown.

“If Paul Ryan is serious about serving the Gospel mission of Jesus Christ, I’d encourage him to read Matthew 6, which instructs us to serve when no one is looking,” said Salt. “You can learn a lot about a man by what he does and says when the cameras aren’t rolling. I’d strongly encourage Rep. Ryan to take a day off from campaigning to meet and get to know those who would be affected by the budget cuts he’s proposed.”

Founded in 2004, Catholics United, and its educational arm, Catholics United Education Fund, are non-profit, non-partisan organizations dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition. For more information about Catholics United, follow us on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CatholicsUnited) or on our blog at www.OurDailyThread.org.