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US bishops to Congress: ‘not justifiable to weaken the national safety net’

Catholic World News - September 02, 2011

Acknowledging that “the fiscal status quo is unsustainable, with mounting deficits and growing debt for our children,” the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is urging the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction not to make disproportionate cuts to domestic and international poverty-assistance programs.

“A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects ‘the least of these’ (Matthew 25),” wrote Bishop Stephen Blaire, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Howard Hubbard, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, in their August 31 letter. “The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first.”

“It would be wrong to balance future budgets by hurting those who already hurt the most by cutting programs such as foreign aid, affordable housing programs, child nutrition, or health care,” they continued. “A just framework also 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.”

“At a time of record foreclosures, increasing poverty and high unemployment it is not justifiable to weaken the national safety net or to make disproportionate cuts to programs that can help low and moderate income families avert crisis and live in dignity,” the bishops added. “We especially fear the costs of undermining poverty-focused international assistance, which is an essential tool to promote human life and dignity, advance solidarity with poorer nations, and enhance global security.”

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  • Posted by: kmbold - Sep. 03, 2011 3:03 PM ET USA

    The USCCB and the Obama regime are conjoined twins: “A just framework also 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” sounds very much like Obama's Tax and Spend socialist agenda. Fortunately we are not required to heed their advice when it is outside their appointed milieu.

  • Posted by: BobJ70777069 - Sep. 02, 2011 9:52 PM ET USA

    Well said, Dan! Our beloved bishops seem continually to let their liberal proclivities get in the way of their Catholic sense. Alms giving benefits both the recipient and the giver. Leaving care of the poor to the government robs us of the merit we gain from alms giving.

  • Posted by: djpeterson - Sep. 02, 2011 8:38 PM ET USA

    This Labor Day in America, workers are under attack and treated with contempt. Over the last decade over 50% of all U.S. income gains have gone to the wealthiest 1%. Real wages have fallen in value since Jimmy Carter was president. Our policies have left workers and the poor at the mercy of a decadent super-rich oligarchy that runs Wash. D.C. We need to cut unnecessary spending, but we must expand the economy and provide jobs, with better wages and labor conditions.

  • Posted by: Steve214 - Sep. 02, 2011 7:30 PM ET USA

    The Church keeps looking to our godless government, and is continually surprised that the result is godlessness. Apparently, in vain does the builder build if not for Government...

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Sep. 02, 2011 7:14 PM ET USA

    Message to the bishops: Fiscal solvency first. Second, governments that do for others what they can do for themselves create a dependent society. We have seen this in countries like Sweden and Denmark, which can't sustain their free domestic programs. We too must place solvency first. We created the problem; we can un-create it but it won't be easy. People have gotten used to these programs and won't give them up easily. I'm not cruel but I am a realist -- broke governments solve nothing.

  • Posted by: Dan - Sep. 02, 2011 11:20 AM ET USA

    Our dear bishops, yet again, seem to completely ignore the fundamental principles of Catholic Social Teaching: subsidiarity and solidarity. A centralized, government-controlled "safety net" usurps both by depriving those closest to the problems the financial capacity and moral will to address them. Imagine the outpouring of charity (time & treasure) if the government would allow private institutions (families, churches, charities, etc) to take responsibility for the welfare of all their members.

  • Posted by: sparch - Sep. 02, 2011 10:59 AM ET USA

    It is not the reponsibility of the government to provide for the poor. If anything, it is the responsibility of the church to head such endeavors. It sounds as though the church is handing it's responsibility off to the government to do it's work. A great price is already being paid for this type of entitlement in terms of money and liberty for the american people and the Church. The more the government does for the church the more strings will be attached to limit the range of the church.

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