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ZENIT: US Bishops Stress Moral Points for Federal Budget

Urge Protection of Poor and Vulnerable

WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops are urging lawmakers to consider moral priorities in the ongoing debate about the federal budget.

This was the appeal in a letter sent Wednesday to members of the House of Representatives by Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the bishops' conference Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Speaking of behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the prelates emphasized the need for "wise bipartisan leadership, clear priorities, and moral clarity" in this discussion.

They expressed the hope for "bipartisan cooperation to defend human life and dignity as well as offer opportunity and help to those most in need."

The letter outlined moral criteria "to help guide difficult budgetary decisions."

First, it stated, "Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity."

Second, the letter continued, "A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects 'the least of these;' the needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first."

Third, it pointed out, "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."

Just framework
The bishops stated that "a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons."

"It requires shared sacrifice by all," they affirmed, "including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly."

"The Catholic bishops of the United States stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity," the prelates affirmed.

They noted that "the proposal before the house raises important and substantive issues for discussion, and at the same time raises serious concerns about how it meets the criterion of adequately protecting poor and vulnerable people."

"The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail," the bishops pointed out, "but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated."

They continued, "Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources."

On the Net:
Full text: www.usccb.org/sdwp/2012-Budget-Letter-to-House-04-13-11.pdf

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