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November 14, 2015

EDITORIAL: The New Republic: What Paul Ryan Could Learn From Pope Francis About Family Leave

Advocates of better parental leave policies have a new ally as of last week: Pope Francis. Speaking to the Christian Union of Italian Business Executives, Francis declared that working women “must be protected and helped in this dual task: the right to work and the right to motherhood." Francis went on to outline the responsibilities businesses have to their female employees, emphasizing that “the challenge is to protect their right to a job that is given full recognition while at the same time safeguarding their vocation to motherhood and their presence in the family.”

Francis’s emphatic support of maternity leave comes on the heels of a debate about state leave mandates partly prompted by House Speaker Paul Ryan’s insistence on family time for himself, and simultaneous rejection of leave mandates for others. On a recent installment of Meet the Press, Ryan, a practicing Catholic, explained that he opposes paid leave mandates because loving his own children does not require “taking money from hardworking taxpayers to create a brand new entitlement program.” Paid leave for those who can afford it, in other words, and no help from the government for those who can’t.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis’s position reflects not only a disagreement on policy particulars with Ryan and his supporters, but an entirely different way of imagining society. For the full editorial by Elizabeth Bruenig, click here.

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