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USCCB, CRS call some proposed House cuts ‘morally unacceptable’

August 01, 2011

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services said on July 29 that the proposed House budget contains “morally unacceptable, even deadly cuts to poverty-focused humanitarian and development assistance.”

“Some of the most egregious cuts are to agricultural assistance for subsistence farmers, adaptation to climate change for vulnerable communities, medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS and vaccines for preventable diseases, assistance to orphans and vulnerable children, disaster assistance in places like Haiti, peacekeeping to protect innocent civilians in troubled areas such as Sudan and the Congo, and support to migrants and refugees fleeing conflict or persecution in nations such as Iraq,” said Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services.

“Instead of these disproportionate cuts, we urge you to consider balanced adjustments across the entire federal budget, including defense, revenue, agricultural subsidies, and fair and just entitlement reform,” they added. “This bill reduces foreign operations appropriations by 2%, but poverty-focused international assistance by over 13% in addition to last year’s cut of over 8%. This is not a balanced, moral approach to budget reductions.”

Bishop Hubbard and the Catholic Relief Services president added:

We do strongly support the bill’s language restoring the Mexico City Policy against funding groups that perform or promote abortion, its denial of funds to the U.N. Population Fund (which supports a program of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China), and its preservation of the Helms Amendment (which prohibits U.S. funding for abortion) and Kemp-Kasten provision (which prohibits support for organizations involved in programs of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization). Unfortunately, we are also deeply disturbed by other provisions in the legislation. The co-mingling of funding under the rubric of the Global Health Initiative may compromise conscience protections and non-discrimination measures, potentially reducing the participation of faith-based providers.

“The bill undermines our nation’s ability to engage in international efforts to address global climate change,” they continued. “The bill also could damage U.S. efforts to seek a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, by undermining assistance to Palestinians that is essential for humanitarian purposes and for building the capacity of a future Palestinian state.”

“We oppose an appropriations bill that places a disproportionate, deadly burden on the poorest people in the poorest places on earth,” they concluded. “We urge the Appropriations Committee to reject these disproportionate, unwise, and unjust cuts.”


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  • Posted by: Antigone - Aug. 03, 2011 12:06 PM ET USA

    @ edwillneff3195 - You echoed my thoughts exactly. My first reaction to this story was, "Well, there's another reason why I refuse to give to CRS and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development." I refuse to let my hard-earned dollars be misspent by Catholics who use their bully pulpits to advocate for a bigger State to the long-term detriment of the Church.

  • Posted by: koenigj7311 - Aug. 02, 2011 10:58 AM ET USA

    Where does the Church teach that governments have a moral obligation to provide material assistance to starving and otherwise afflicted people?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 01, 2011 10:07 PM ET USA

    I will continue to support my parish and many fine Catholic organizations but when the Catholic Bishops make their predictable leftwing pronouncements or when Cardinal George starts lecturing us on "social justice" -- I take my wallet and run. Enabling is not compassion and strong armed robbery, a cruder form of income redistribution, is not charity. God help the bishops, who never got a calloused hand from hard work, to have more respect for the money some of us have to work to earn.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Aug. 01, 2011 8:16 PM ET USA

    The USCCB and CRS seem to forget that we don't actually HAVE half the money we're spending on these programs -- as with every other part of the federal budget, we're borrowing it. And they'll say nothing when the Mexico City Policy, the Helms Amendment, and the Kemp-Kasten provision are quietly dropped or ignored by the Obama administration.

  • Posted by: Antigone - Aug. 01, 2011 7:10 PM ET USA

    Why is it that the Catholic "establishment" in this country seems to think that the only way to help the poor is through government intervention? It is so disappointing that so many bishops don't realize that their interpretation of the Gospels is beholden to their politics.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 01, 2011 6:18 PM ET USA

    The government is the government: if you grow it big, you live with big consequences--especially if the government is functionally godless. The government is opposing our faith on all fronts, and here part of the Church wants it to continue on its expanding course. The Bishop of Paris was most surprised when his head was cut off--as he had supported the French revolution!

  • Posted by: Colonel Joe - Aug. 01, 2011 6:15 PM ET USA

    It appears that somehow the church has lost the focus of its purpose and passed the buck to the Government. Somewhere I remember something like render to Ceaser... It is the CHURCH's responsibility, the Christian community's responsibility to provide the charitable support, not the government. When the church leaders take real leadership (as they have NOT in the last 2 or so decades), the congregations will continue to dwindle.