Too often, when the political world talks about politicians and their relationship with the Roman Catholic church, the fulcrum rests at abortion — those who oppose abortion rights are in the church’s good graces; those who are pro-choice are not.

But as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is learning this week, some Catholic leaders take a more expansive view of moral issues.

Boehner, himself Catholic, will deliver the commencement address this weekend at the Catholic University of America in D.C. It’s worth appreciating the criticism this is generating.

More than 75 professors at Catholic University and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to Mr. Boehner saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House will hurt the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable, and that he therefore has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teachings.

“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter says. “From the apostles to the present, the magisterium of the church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”

The letter writers criticize Mr. Boehner’s support for a budget that cut financing for Medicare, Medicaid and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, while granting tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. They call such policies “anti-life,” a particularly biting reference because the phrase is usually applied to politicians and others who support the right to abortion.

“Speaker Boehner’s budget eviscerates vital programs that protect the poor, the elderly, the homeless and at-risk pregnant women and children. This is not pro-life,” said Stephen Schneck, Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America.

Good for them.

Faith in Public Life has a full copy of the letter and the list of signatories.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.