Will Paul Ryan’s Photo Op Hurt a Catholic Charity’s Efforts to Feed the Poor?

The Nuns on the Bus have been saying for months that Paul Ryan’s miserly budgetary approach betrays his Catholic values. The Bishops agree. Joe Biden even called Ryan out for “taking issue” with the Church’s social teachings.

Just days after being called out by a fellow Catholic for being stingy with the poor, Ryan commandeered a soup kitchen so he could stage a photo op.

It turns out the soup kitchen is run by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul–a Catholic lay organization.

And the local president of the society suggests Ryan’s photo op might hurt their donations.

Brian J. Antag, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, whostopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University.

“We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antag said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.”


“I can’t afford to lose funding from these private individuals,” he said. “For us to even appear like we’re backing somebody, it’s suicide. … If this was the Democrats, I’d have the same exact problem. It doesn’t matter who it was.”

He added that the incident had caused him “all kind of grief” and that regardless of whether Ryan had intended to serve food to patrons or wash dishes, he would not have allowed the visit to take place.

Ryan has made a concerted effort to make it harder for the Federal government to help the poor.

And now, with his selfish big-footing, he may have made it harder for Catholics serving the poor to do so.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

11 replies
  1. Peterr says:


    Ryan had stopped by the soup kitchen for about 15 minutes on his way to the airport after his Saturday morning town hall in Youngstown. By the time he arrived, the food had already been served, the patrons had left, and the hall had been cleaned.

    Upon entering the soup kitchen, Ryan, his wife and three young children greeted and thanked several volunteers, then donned white aprons and offered to clean some dishes. Photographers snapped photos and TV cameras shot footage of Ryan and his family washing pots and pans that did not appear to be dirty.

    Romney/Ryan: Fixing problems that don’t exist.

  2. PeasantParty says:

    I bet they didn’t know that every time a bank forecloses and throws a family into the streets that he gets money from his fund holdings. I bet they didn’t know that he is another ultimate inside trading champ that routinely bets against the US and it’s citizens. Yeah, and he always comes out ahead while our pensions and 401K’s get robbed.

  3. par4 says:

    Why is it that Congress left with the lowest approval ratings ever and the Democrats aren’t even likely retake the House?

  4. bigchin says:

    “Ryan has made a concerted effort to make it harder for the Federal government to help the poor.”

    Which is exactly the reason Erskine Bowles – Obama’s appointed hitman and pilot of the assassination drones aiming at what remains of our social safety net – thinks Paul Ryan is “amazing.”


    This is the man who Obama wants to replace Geithner…

    “You can dismiss those of us who will in protest vote for a third-party candidate and invest our time and energy in acts of civil disobedience. You can pride yourself on being practical. You can swallow the false argument of the lesser of two evils. But ask yourself, once this nightmare starts kicking in, who the real sucker is.” – Chris Hedges “How Do You Take Your Poison?”

  5. dakine01 says:

    Now Marcy, you know “selfish big-footing” is OKIYAR. And why aren’t those lazy moochers out getting real jobs like being elected to Congress and such anyway?

  6. chetnolian says:

    OT but it has just been announced that Gary McKinnon, the aspergers suffering UFO searcher who hacked into various insecure US defence sites is not being extradited to the USA, so they won’t get a chance to treat him as they treat Bradley Manning. Gary is staying here.

    The prime US argument for wanting to try Gary was that he caused the USA to spend large sums of money,i.e. fix the lousy IT security which Gary found for them.

    One tiny blow for freedom

  7. Snarki, child of Loki says:

    “They showed up there and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors”

    These organizations should have LEARNED from O’Keefe’s antics, that they cannot be lax about letting people in the door!

    They should have tased the lot of them, then kicked them out to the curb.

  8. Nancy says:

    As a republican, I will be careful in the future to make sure the charities I donate time and money to are not biased and in bed with liberal media. Republicans happen to donate a lot more than liberals. We’ll see how good ST VINCENT DE PAUL does with these comments.

  9. Tired of hearing it says:

    @Nancy: “As a republican”, you want to obfuscate lyin’ Ryan staging this phony, pathetic photo op that should shame any decent human being. And “as a republican” you are obviously too stupid to read and comprehend the english language.
    Mr. Antag clearly stated:
    “We’re a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,”…..“It’s strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there and they did not have permission.”
    …..“For us to even appear like we’re backing somebody, it’s suicide. … If this was the Democrats, I’d have the same exact problem. It doesn’t matter who it was.”
    How does any semi intelligent human conclude they are biased and how do you ever conclude “liberal” media has any bearing on what is clearly reported in this article and referenced links?
    Also may I suggest that any of your future donated time and money be put back wherever you pulled that unfounded factoid from about repug’s largess.

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