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U.S. Bishops Join With Other Christian Leaders To Call For ‘Circle Of Protection’ Around Programs For Poor People

 
April 28, 2011

WASHINGTON—A diverse coalition of Christian leaders, including Catholic bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, Bread for the World, Salvation Army, Christian Churches Together in the USA, National Council of Churches and other Evangelical and mainline Protestants, has called for a priority for the poor in the current budget process through a common statement, “A Circle of Protection.”

“As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice,” said the statement. “We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.”

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, and Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, signed the statement, as did Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. Bishop Hubbard and Bishop Blaire chair the U.S. bishops’ committees on International Justice and Peace and Domestic Justice and Human Development, respectively.

In the statement, the religious leaders recognize the need to reduce future deficits, “but not at the expense of hungry and poor people.” They said, “These choices are economic, political—and moral. As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable people fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up—how it treats those Jesus called ‘the least of these’ (Matthew 25:45). They do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and common resources. The Christian community has an obligation to help them be heard, to join with others to insist that programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world are protected.”

The statement urges government leaders to explore other areas of the budget that can be cut to reduce deficits and to create jobs and spur economic growth, noting, “Decent jobs at decent wages are the best path out of poverty, and restoring growth is a powerful way to reduce deficits.”

The full statement and list of signatories can be found online: www.circleofprotection.us/index.html

Earlier letters to Congress from Bishop Hubbard and Bishop Blaire addressing the moral dimensions of the budget can also be found online: www.usccb.org/sdwp/2012-Budget-Letter-to-House-04-13-11.pdf and www.usccb.org/sdwp/Final-2011-CR-letter-Domestic-Senate.pdf

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Keywords: budget, Congress, Christian leaders, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, anti-poverty programs, International Justice and Peace, Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bread for the World, National Association of Evangelicals, A Circle of Protection, ecumenical

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