Bishops: Federal Budget Should Affirm Human Life And Dignity, Put The Needy First, Reflect Shared Responsibility To Promote The Common Good

March 7, 2012 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Congress should basedecisions on the federal budget on whether they protect or threaten human lifeand dignity, whether they put the needs of the hungry, the homeless and theunemployed first, and whether they reflect the shared responsibility ofgovernment and other institutions to promote the common good of all, especially“workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economictimes,” said the two U.S. bishops who lead the justice and peace efforts of theU.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Inthe past year, Congress and the Administration have taken significant action toreduce the federal deficit, while attempting to protect programs that servepoor and vulnerable people,” wrote Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton,California, and Bishop Richard Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, in a March 6 letter. “Congresswill continue to face difficult choices about how to allocate burdens andsacrifices and balance resources and needs. We fear the pressure to cut vitalprograms that protect the lives and dignity of the poor and vulnerable willincrease. As Catholic bishops, we have tried to remind Congress that thesechoices are economic, political, and moral.”

Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates chairthe USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and the Committeeon International Justice and Peace, respectively.

The bishops voiced support for movesto strengthen programs that help the poor and vulnerable, such as Pell Grantsand improved workforce training and development. They also opposed movesnegatively impacting poor families such as increasing the minimum rent that canbe charged to families receiving housing assistance and a proposal to eliminatefunding for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. The bishops also made thecase for protecting programs that help the poor internationally.

“As pastors, we see every day thehuman consequences of budget choices. Our Catholic community defends theunborn, feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, educates the young, and caresfor the sick, both at home and abroad. We help poor families rise abovecrushing poverty, resettle refugees fleeing conflict and persecution, and reachout to communities devastated by wars, natural disasters and famines,” thebishops wrote. “The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party winsor which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless,hungry, homeless or poor are treated. Their voices are too often missing inthese debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciencesand our common resources.”

Full text of the bishops’ letter isavailable online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/upload/Letter-to-Congress-Federal-Budget-2012-03-06.pdf

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Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops, Bishop Richard Pates, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Domestic Justiceand Human Development, International Justice and Peace, federal budget,Congress, Administration, cuts, funding, poor, vulnerable, hungry, unemployed, circleof protection, Pell Grants, DC Opportunity Scholarship, health care, housing

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