Top 10 Quotes from Paul Ryan’s Commencement Address

commencement“I want to answer this question: How does a Catholic public servant apply Catholic social teaching?” Paul Ryan told graduating seniors on Saturday (video here) at Benedictine College, where I work.

Outside, a demonstration gathered a handful of demonstrators. Ryan acknowledged them and said he wanted to disagree with them.

“Now, Good Catholics can disagree. And we do. … I’m not going to stand here and vanquish some straw men erected for my position. I’m going to take on the straw men erected against my position.”

His commencement address was covered by the New York Post and the National Catholic Register — which also asked him about remarks he made about homosexual adoption at a town hall meeting a week and a half before commencement.

Here follow the best quotes from Ryan’s speech.

10. His joke about Ayn Rand:

“At a young age, I started a lengthy search for answers. I read everything I could get my hands on: from Freud to C.S. Lewis, from Hegel to Hayek, from Aristotle to Aquinas—to everything in between. In fact, you may have heard that I enjoyed the work of a certain female author, whose books were monuments to the idea that men and women should be true to their individual passions—even in the face of relentless social pressure to conform. Yes, it’s true. I was—and I remain—a huge fan of the Twilight saga.”

9. On Pope Benedict vs. the “dictatorship of relativism.”

“Just as his predecessor Pope John Paul freed Poland from fear, Pope Benedict taught us how to protect the world from falsehood.”

8. On Pope Francis

“I hope he will heal the divisions between the so-called Catholic ‘left’ and ‘right,’ so ‘that all may be one’ in Christ — because it’s the spiritually impoverished who need the most help.”

7.  On service to the poor

“To truly help the poor, we have to help the whole person—not just the material needs, but the spiritual ones too. The fact is, government can’t give this help—because the law is blind. It treats everyone the same. And though we’re all equal, we’re not all the same. We have different needs.”

6. On “mediating institutions”

“Only people can meet these needs … people outside of government. And we will find them in our communities—in our churches and schools, in our nonprofits and neighborhoods, in our friends and families. Academics like to call these things ‘mediating institutions,’ But in the end, they’re just people—people working together.”

5. On the contributions of businesses

“They create jobs. They save lives. They feed people. They add to the store of knowledge. And most importantly, free enterprise gives us the resources to care for ourselves—and for others. It helps to ease human suffering.”

4. On greed

“Yes, we must guard against greed. … And there’s no greater opportunity for greed than government cronyism. Greed knows how to exploit the pages of regulations. It knows how to navigate the halls of power. So if we’re concerned about greed, we shouldn’t give it more opportunities to grow.”

3. The purpose of wealth

“Wealth is a means to an end. … The end is a good life—one lived in accordance with God. And to live a truly good life, we must go beyond ourselves. We must minister to the poor and the sick. We can’t outsource the job. Concern for the poor doesn’t demand faith in big government. It demands something more — from all of us.”

2. On happiness

“[W]e find happiness only in the thrill of accomplishment, in the comfort of community, and in communion with God. This is how solidarity and subsidiarity work together: They create a society that serves the poor.”

1. On Catholic social teaching

“That’s my take on Catholic social teaching. …  In a culture that stresses the ‘I,’ the Church stresses the ‘We.’ In a culture that liberates the passions, the Church shows that discipline gives you freedom. And in a world where relativism threatens the weak, the Church works to protect the poor and the powerless. These are the truths that anchor Catholic social teaching.”


Categories:Culture Education

  • Meg

    Antoinette Auger,
    If you knew the stance of the church, you wouldn’t feel the need to make the argument you had. Please know what The Catholic Church’s believes are before looking like a fool and asking ridiculous question and statements. Especially on gay marriage and abortions. Look up the FIVE NON-NEGOTIABLE ISSUES of the Catholic Church.

    Second, if you believe there is no free market…take any economics class. Government control is the force holding back the free market from flourishing. Capitalism is another believe of the Catholic Church. Which brings up the fact of privatization, which has proven its self to be more effective and profitable than government owned/operated ANYTHING.

    And I’m not going to even start with your absurd comment about people having only succeeded because of the government help…its honestly the stupidest comment I’ve heard yet.

    I’m sorry for you, think about coming back to the Church. Its people who are completely uniformed and talking like they know what they are talking about that gives the Catholic Church a negative stigma. The Church doesn’t apologize for it’s beliefs, and I don’t apologize for being a Catholic.

  • Judy Taylor

    Wonderful. God bless.
    Regardless our age, may we reapply these. If young, may one find ways to reflect & apply.

  • Conor McCartney

    I’ve been a fan of Mr. Ryan’s for a long time. He isn’t perfect but he is thoughtful and considerate and truly cares about what he does.

  • http://YAHOO POI

    Great speech, we should apply this in our daily life.

  • Deven Lambart

    You have to love the fact that an uninformed voter gets on a Catholic site and starts the bashing once again. It seems like nothing is off limits. “The rich dont pay enough in taxes”………come on really shouldnt you worrie about yourself and let god take care of the rest. You vote for who you feel is best for you. fortunatly I feel that if I work hard toward a goal I should reap what I sow. The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Those that have worked hard and reached their goals should be rewarded rich or poor. Now you say “Punish the rich for they receive too much and I command they pay more”. I say “The rich have worked hard for what they have maybe I should work hard too.” Get rid of social programs and let the churches do what they did best……(Take care of folks).
    As far as homosexuals being able to adopt….I think giving children a good loving home is better than them living in a meth ridden home…….to clump all homosexuals as child molestors is compleatly ignorant……I know a woman that was a child molestor……so according to your logic i would infer that all women are child molestors….(Thats an insane argument).

  • Ron

    Great top ten! I especially like #7 — serving those in need must focus on the whole person. To focus simply on the physical needs, could leave a person ‘healthy’ physically but ‘on a highway to hell.’ Yet, to focus solely on the spiritual needs may help an unhealthy person find the ‘stairway to heaven,’ but that person would be an indictment against the Church, tasked by Christ to serve the poor and needy. Good job, Senator Ryan!



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