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Bishops exhort Congress: no ‘disproportionate cuts’ to anti-poverty programs

Catholic World News - July 28, 2011

The chairmen of two committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are urging the House of Representatives not to make “disproportionate cuts” to anti-poverty programs.

Released in advance of a critical vote in the House of Representatives, the bishops' statement is clearly designed to encourage opposition to a Republican plan for budget cuts. The USCCB statement suggests "raising adequate revenues"--presumably by tax increases--as a way of preserving entitlement programs.

“We acknowledge the difficult challenges that the Congress, Administration and government at all levels face to get our financial house in order: fulfilling the demands of justice and moral obligations to future generations; controlling future debt and deficits; and protecting the lives and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable,” Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop Howard Hubbard said in a July 26 letter.

“A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons,” they continued. “It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.”

The prelates, who chair the US bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Committee on International Justice and Peace, added:

We fear the human and social costs of substantial cuts to programs that serve families working to escape poverty, especially food and nutrition, child development and education, and affordable housing.

We also fear the costs of undermining international assistance which is an essential tool to promote human life and dignity, advance solidarity with poorer nations, and enhance global security. Such assistance supports a wide range of life-saving programs, including: drugs to combat diseases; assistance to poor farmers and orphans; food aid for starving people; aid to victims of natural disasters; and help to refugees fleeing for their lives. The House proposal will require massive cuts in all these areas. We support continuing reform of programs that serve poor people to make them even more effective.

Following the release of the bishops’ letter, the USCCB’s Office of Government Relations urged Catholics to lobby against such cuts. “Unfortunately, very few advocate the priority claim of poor and vulnerable people, which makes our voices so much more important and prophetic,” the office’s action alert stated.

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: FredC - Jul. 29, 2011 9:46 AM ET USA

    The government gains much from its aid to the needy. The needy become a voting block and government workers need work. There is no incentive to help the able-bodied needy to sbe self-supporting, whereas volunteers would be delighted to have nobody be needy.

  • Posted by: Savonarola - Jul. 29, 2011 9:37 AM ET USA

    Suggestion: Fire half the USCCB staff. Save money and send it to the missions. Move the Acton Institute to DC to give regular lectures on SUBSIDIARITY to the bishops and the remaining staff.

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Jul. 29, 2011 8:14 AM ET USA

    MAG and Hal, I'm with you. The USCCB is not canonically sanctioned and because it's social justice committee is a cover for the DNC, it has lost total credibility in my eyes. Have these bishops ever heard of subsidiarity?

  • Posted by: Hal - Jul. 28, 2011 12:11 PM ET USA

    These guys are a wholly owned lobby of the DNC. Look how well they defended life issues in the face of Obamacare! I'm sorry, but the smooth political stylings of the USCCB are a farce,and another reason they get ZERO money from me for themselves or their pet causes. It's the only weapon I have other than prayer.

  • Posted by: MAG - Jul. 28, 2011 9:25 AM ET USA

    1) Exactly where in tradition or sacred scripture is the task of caring for the poor assigned to the government? 2) Would that our clergy focus their efforts on re-catechizing the faithful on the basic - and hard - truths of the faith...

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