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USCCB weighs in on federal budget

March 08, 2012

Bishops Stephen Blaire and Richard Pates, the chairmen respectively of the Committee on Domestic Justice and the Committee on International Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), have written members of the House of Representatives to “ to address the moral and human dimensions of the federal budget.”

“We join with other Christian leaders in calling for a ‘circle of protection’ around our brothers and sisters at home and abroad who are poor and vulnerable,” the prelates said in their March 6 letter.

“Our nation has an obligation to address the impact of future deficits on the health of the economy, to ensure stability and security for future generations, and to use limited resources efficiently and effectively,” they continued. “A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons; 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 bishops added:

  • “We support proposals in the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget to strengthen programs that serve poor and vulnerable people, such as Pell Grants and improved workforce training and development. We also support proposals to restore cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as well as efforts to make permanent recent expansions of low-income tax credits.”
  • “Our Conference believes safe and affordable housing is essential for human dignity. We do not support the Administration’s proposal to increase the minimum amount of rent that can be charged to families receiving housing assistance.”
  • “The Conference does not support the entire foreign operations budget, but we strongly support poverty-focused international assistance … We ask Congress to increase support for poverty-focused assistance and to continue to reform international aid so it is even more effective for the poorest people in the poorest places on the planet.”
  • “We are also very concerned with proposals to eliminate the “firewall” that currently exists between defense and nondefense spending. Elimination of this firewall would mean that poverty-related domestic and international programs would compete with other more powerful interests and less essential priorities.”

Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates also weighed in on health care and criticized the Obama administration’s opposition to vouchers for schoolchildren in the District of Columbia.

“We strongly oppose the Administration’s proposal to eliminate funding for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides vital assistance to poor families in the nation’s capital in seeking out high-quality education for their children,” they said. “Access to affordable, life-affirming health care that respects religious freedom remains an urgent national priority. Rising health care costs contribute in major ways to increased government spending. We warn against shifting rising health care costs to vulnerable seniors, people with disabilities, and those who are poor, without controlling these costs.”


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  • Posted by: impossible - Mar. 09, 2012 11:48 PM ET USA

    Good points Bellarminite1. The bishops should stop giving money to CCHD's Saul Alinskyite-type groups and use it closer to home in their own back yards to directly help the poor and to help Catholic education.

  • Posted by: Bellarminite1 - Mar. 08, 2012 11:58 PM ET USA

    The government is the least efficient, least personal way to help the poor yet here is the Church, the best vehicle of caring for the poor (diocese by diocese, parish by parish, individual by individual) calling for the government to handle it. Sigh.

  • Posted by: Savonarola - Mar. 08, 2012 8:41 PM ET USA

    Catholics are leaving the Church, doctrine is not being taught, the bishops' credibility continues to sink and yet the USCCB will opine on nuclear disarmament and now the budget??

  • Posted by: impossible - Mar. 08, 2012 7:30 PM ET USA

    There's that word "access" again. The bishops not only don't teach, they don't learn. Do you suppose the USCCB has budgeted appropriately for the funding of Obama's community organizing corps? Maybe they should concentrate on some catechetical justice, instead of being an arm of the DNC. They need to read, study and heed the words of Mark Steyn's article, "The Church of Big Government." It's at

  • Posted by: Cornelius - Mar. 08, 2012 9:02 AM ET USA

    So, what will it take for the Bishops to critically examine the premise underlying all these budget concerns, i.e., the expanding role of government in providing services? One would think that the HHS mandate would be a wake up call to the Bishops to re-examine their assumptions, but it appears to be business as usual at the USCCB.