Wednesday, April 13, 2011

USCCB Highlight protecting the poor, fiscal responsibility as moral criteria for budget debate


WASHINGTON—The federal budget should protect human life and dignity, make
the poor a top priority and promote the common good of all during tough
economic times, said the U.S. bishops who oversee foreign and domestic
policy on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
(USCCB) in a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party
wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are
jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated, Their voices are too often
missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on
our consciences and our common resources,” wrote Bishop Howard J. Hubbard
of Albany, New York, and Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California
in their April 13 letter.
Bishop Hubbard and Bishop Blaire chair the USCCB Committees on
International Justice and Peace and Domestic Justice and Human Development,
“A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on
disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons,” the bishops
wrote. “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
The bishops also expressed their gratitude that the FY 2011
budget, which is scheduled for a vote this week, expands funding for the
D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Fund, restores the ban on congressionally
appropriated funds for abortion in the District of Columbia, and that
spending cuts to programs that serve the poor are significantly less than
originally proposed.
The bishops also offered a framework of three moral criteria
that could guide budgetary decisions: “1. Every budget decision should be
assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity. 2. A
central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least
of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless,
without work or in poverty should come first. 3. Government and other
institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of
all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in
dignity in difficult economic times.”
The bishops wrote, “In light of growing deficits, Congress
faces difficult choices about how to balance needs and resources and
allocate burdens and sacrifices. We welcome the efforts of those who have
offered serious plans and encourage other leaders to do the same. These
choices are economic, political, and moral. This important national
discussion requires wise bipartisan leadership, clear priorities, and moral
The full text of the letter is available online:

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