A good essay - especially in light of the criticism of Ryan and his budget recommendations by certain Catholics. Ryan spoke at Georgetown University, to the horror of some.
...first is a commendable modesty in Ryan's remarks. While Ryan, a committed Catholic, provided a robust defense of his budget, he readily admits there is plenty of room for differences over the prudential application of Christian principles to matters of public policy. Too often people on both the left and the right insist the New Testament and Hebrew Bible provide a governing blueprint. In fact, they say virtually nothing about what we would consider public policy. They simply do not offer detailed guidance on (to name just a handful of issues) trade; education; welfare, crime; health care; affirmative action, immigration; foreign aid; legal reform; climate change; and much else. And even on issues that many people believe the Bible does speak to, if sometimes indirectly—including poverty and wealth, abortion and same-sex marriage, capital punishment and euthanasia—nothing in the text speaks to the nature or extent of legislation or the kind of prudential steps that ought to be pursued.
One may believe we have a scriptural obligation to be good stewards of the earth, but that doesn't necessarily determine where one will stand on cap-and-trade legislation. An individual can take to heart the admonition in Exodus not to "oppress a stranger" and still grapple with the issue of whether to grant a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. A person of faith can embrace the words of Deuteronomy—"Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land"—and be on different sides of the welfare debate. ...
A second observation is that Ryan is making a moral argument for conservatism—laying out, with some precision, an affirmative case for conservatism based on advancing human flourishing for everyone in society, but most especially the poor, the weak, and the defenseless.
Conservatives believe in the mixed nature of the human person and the complexity of human society, in the dispersal rather than the concentration of power, in government encouraging excellence and promoting equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcomes, in the principle of subsidiarity and the crucial role played by the family and civic institutions, in eschewing utopianism while embracing reform, in the primacy of a strong national defense and the conviction that America, while an imperfect nation, has been a tremendous force for good in the world.