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WASHINGTON—Congress should place the needs of the poor, unemployed, hungry and other vulnerable people first as it sets its budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2011, said the bishop who oversees domestic policy on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“The spending choices of Congress have clear moral and human dimensions; they reflect our values as a people,” said Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a March 4 letter to the U.S. Senate. “Some current proposals call for substantial reductions, particularly in those programs that serve the poorest and most vulnerable people in our nation. In a time of economic crisis, poor and vulnerable people are in greater need of assistance, not less.”
Bishop Blaire cited over $5 billion in proposed cuts to programs including community health centers, affordable housing, job training programs, education programs for low-income people and refugee funding as having a severe impact on the poor and vulnerable.
Bishop Blaire acknowledged the need to address the federal deficit to ensure stability for future generations, as well as the need to preserve national security, noting that the way to do this is not to create greater insecurity for the poor but through shared sacrifice for all. He also voiced support for provisions that continue to ban federal abortion funding and restore the ban in the District of Columbia.
The full text of the letter can be found online: www.usccb.org/sdwp/Final-2011-CR-letter-Domestic-Senate.pdf . Bishop Blaire’s letter echoes a February 22 letter from Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in which they argued that assistance to the world’s poor needed to be a budget priority: www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/2011-02SenateCRLetterFinal.pdf.
Keywords: Bishop Stephen Blaire, Diocese of Stockton, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, U.S. bishops, poor, budget, Congress, Senate, cuts, vulnerable, community health centers, affordable housing, job training, deficit
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