Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Bishops call budget priorities moral choices
Call for assistance to poor families at home and abroad
Concerns include health care reform, affordable housing, climate change

WASHINGTON—Two U.S. Catholic bishops called on lawmakers to remember “the least of these” as they set priorities the federal budget resolution. In a March 26 letter to both houses of Congress, Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., and Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y. called the allocation of opportunities and burdens in the federal budget “moral choices” and asked Congress to place “the needs of poor families and the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world first.”

The bishops, who chair the U.S. bishops’ committees on international and domestic social justice, respectively, asked Congress to consider the effects of the economic crisis at home, “as families lose their homes; retirement savings disappear; workers lose both their jobs and their health care; and so many people are left without hope or security.”

“Abroad, our major priority should be a continued and strengthened commitment to effective programs of relief, development, and health care, particularly in Africa,” they added.

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishops Hubbard and Murphy offered several directions and concerns with this year’s proposed budget. They included reforming health care, making sure it is available to all and that it protects and enhances life; funding federal child nutrition programs and domestic agriculture support; restoring funds for affordable housing such as the Section 8 and 202 housing programs; addressing climate change and reducing the burden of those disproportionately affected by it; reauthorizing the D.C. Scholarship Program; increasing foreign assistance; and funding for the migration and refugee programs of both the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The bishops also asked that Congress pass a resolution that doesn’t reduce incentives for charitable giving.

“The budget choices of Congress have clear moral and human dimensions; they reflect our values as a people,” the bishops wrote. “Our plea is simple: put the poor and vulnerable first as you consider this historic budget resolution.”

The full text of the letter may be found online.

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