WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast this morning that the faithful should slow down for the reflection of prayer, as “stillness is even more precious in a time when our public discourse has become more raucous than rational.”
“‘The survival of the shrillest,’ some have called it,” Ryan said. “We tend to fixate on the shrillness, but let’s talk about survival for a moment. It seems like we are always in survival mode, doesn’t it? Trying to get through the day, if not the hour. We go through the motions, we argue on the margins. We get absorbed in intrigue that isn’t so intriguing.”
Ryan slammed “moral relativism becoming more and more pervasive in our culture.”
“Identity politics and tribalism have grown on top of this,” he said. “All of it has been made more prevalent by 21st century technology.”
“If there was ever a time and place where Catholics — from the clergy to the laity — are needed, it is here and now, in helping to solve this problem… a vision that inspires us to serve the common good, to live faithfully, and to renew the hope that our Founders’ vision of liberty and justice for all can be achieved in our less-than-perfect world.”
Ryan called for “a mature civic patriotism, where we live our freedom for the common good, not just our personal gain.”
“It is a patriotism grounded in respect for the inherent dignity and inalienable value of every person,” he said. “We believe every person has a role and a voice in the community of concern and protection. No one is written off.”
A handful of legislators were at the Marriot Marquis Hotel event that drew about 1,200, including Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), an anti-abortion lawmaker who beat back a progressive primary challenger this year.
Last year, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the event. This year, the highest administration official there was Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.
Ryan did not mention his firing and subsequent reinstatement after much furor of Jesuit House chaplain Father Pat Conroy.
“Everything in politics is about ‘optics,’ a word I assure you I will not miss,” he said. “Think of the good we could do if we spent a little more time looking inward, pondering how we are all imperfect, we are all fallen. Everything flows from that common humanity, from that stillness.”
“Let us recommit ourselves to living not just successful lives, but the faithful lives that the grace of God makes possible for all of us. Let us recapture these beautiful, unifying principles of Catholic social teaching,” he added. “That’s how we can give America a new birth of freedom rightly understood. That’s how we can sustain the institutions of self-governance. That’s how we can transform the public debate.”
In his keynote address, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City said that it’s time to “reclaim our culture one mind, one heart, one soul at a time.”
“We are called to renew our nation, not primarily by enacting laws, but by announcing the Joy and Hope of the Gospel of Jesus to individuals in desperate need of its good news,” Naumann said.