Ahead of tax vote and amid retirement rumors, Paul Ryan meets with Cardinal Dolan

House Speaker Paul Ryan sits with New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan at the 72nd Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York Oct. 19. (CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters)

As Speaker of the House Paul Ryan pushes for a massive tax overhaul and shoots down rumors that he is eyeing retirement after next year’s midterm elections, America learned that he recently spent time in New York with an old friend: Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The speaker and his family attended morning Mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday and afterward, the cardinal received Mr. Ryan and his family for lunch. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York described the meeting as “personal” in nature and said it was aimed at “renewing a friendship that goes back 15 years or so.” He did not comment on the nature of their conversation.

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A spokesman for the archdiocese described the meeting as “personal” in nature.

Cardinal Dolan spent about seven years in Wisconsin, Mr. Ryan’s home state, beginning in 2002. He served as archbishop of Milwaukee and as apostolic administrator of Green Bay. This October, the pair were together at the Al Smith Dinner, where Mr. Ryan served as the keynote speaker. During his speech, the speaker highlighted his friendship with Cardinal Dolan and said the New York archbishop encouraged him to accept the job as speaker of the house when former Speaker John Boehner resigned.

“God may forgive you, Cardinal, but I will not,” he joked.

The speaker, who frequently invokes his Catholic faith, has in recent weeks championed a tax overhaul plan that has been criticized repeatedly by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Bishop Frank Dewane, who heads the bishops’ domestic justice committee, said bills passed by both the House and Senate contain “fundamental flaws” that could harm the poor. He previously called the House bill “unacceptable.”

This week, reports said Mr. Ryan is considering retiring next year, though the speaker’s office denied the rumors.

In an article published by The Huffington Post on Dec. 13, an unidentified member of Congress wondered if passing the tax bill might be the impetus for Mr. Ryan to leave office.

“Is it a Boehner-meeting-the-pope moment?” he asked, referring to the decision of former Speaker of the House John Boehner to retire shortly after Pope Francis addressed a joint meeting of Congress in 2015.

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Vincent Gaglione
7 months ago

The tax bill pushed by Ryan and now merged with the Senate version includes tax code changes that will have a deleterious effect on charitable giving, especially in high-tax jurisdictions. And Mr. Ryan has already publicly proposed, in support of deficit reduction of a deficit increased by the tax legislation, changes to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid which he describes as entitlements, a pejorative term to inflame public perception of the programs as “welfare.”

The Cardinal Archbishop of New York recently embarked on a campaign to raise extraordinary amounts of money in parishes to strengthen both the archdiocesan and the local parishes’ reserves.

It galled me that Ryan was invited to the Al Smith dinner, honoring the man who is an icon of social and labor legislation in the State of New York. This political gossip story about Ryan’s family’s invitation to lunch at the cardinal’s residence only galled me more. It is my fervent hope that the Cardinal vigorously lobbied his good buddy against the legislation that may soon be passed in Congress and signed by Trump as a Christmas gift to the nation.

As I have written elsewhere on this site, I provide regular charitable contributions that are NOT tax deductible along with those that are. They deal with shelter and food for people who need it. Other than Bishop Dewane’s comments, I haven’t heard most other Catholic Bishops nor my Cardinal Archbishop say a single public word in opposition to the proposed tax legislation for its potential deleterious effects to citizens or charitable gift-giving. Dolan’s interests in my contributions to his fundraising campaigns would motivate him, I hope, to look out for my interests more so than his good buddy’s!

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