The following comes from an October 21 Catholic Vote article by Tom Hoopes:

Now that Paul Ryan is willing to run (reluctantly) for Speaker of the House, his record is being pored over. For my part, I looked over his visit to Benedictine College as commencement speaker two years ago, when he was fresh from his campaign for Vice President.

Here is some of what he shared.

He said “I strongly support measures to protect religious liberty. I believe Catholic institutions — like colleges, hospitals, and social agencies — should be free to do their work according to their moral standards. It’s essential to our society. And it’s essential to subsidiarity.”

He added, “Over the years, we’ve been blessed to hear three popes make the case for these principles. Take John Paul II. He rallied the Polish people against the Soviet Union.

He said, in effect, that Communism was wrong. There was something beyond this world — and we knew it. There was a God — and we were his children. And by speaking the truth, he electrified the nation — 36 million strong — not with a promise of wealth, but with a simple call: ‘Do not be afraid!’ He showed solidarity with the Polish people. And he freed them from fear.”

“Pope Benedict XVI warned us about another danger — which he called ‘the dictatorship of relativism.’ It’s the belief that there is no right or wrong — that every person is a law unto herself. And it can’t stand the truth — because the truth is self-confident and self-sustaining. So it snuffs it out. It burns books. It censors the press. But as St. Thomas Aquinas once wrote, ‘all men are forced to give their assent’ to reason. Pope Benedict revived interest in his teachings. Just as his predecessor Pope John Paul freed Poland from fear, Pope Benedict taught us how to protect the world from falsehood.

Then he turned to Francis, who he said was “breathing new life into the fight against poverty. He’s renewing our commitment to help the least among us. He has a chance to lift the dialogue to a higher level. 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.”

He called political office his “vocation” and shared “my take on Catholic social teaching.”

“It’s not a step-by-step guide; it’s a philosophy,” he said. “It grounds you in certain principles. 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. They offer guidance as you discover God’s plan for you.”