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.
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.”
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.