Archbishop Dolan, U.S. Bishops Call for Government Action on Poverty
In light of the recent Census Bureau report showing the U.S.’s soaring poverty rate, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent a letter yesterday urging Catholic clergy across the country to “focus public attention and priority on the scandal of so much poverty and so many without work in our society.”
Highlighting the real human costs of poverty, Archbishop Dolan stressed that the proper response involves a coordinated effort at all levels of society, including appropriate action by government actors:
Individuals and families, faith-based and community groups, businesses and labor, government at every level, all must work together and find effective ways to promote the common good in national and economic life.
For particular policy suggestions, Dolan referred readers to the resources on the USCCB website which include very specific recommendations. Just this month, the chairmen of the USCCB committees on domestic and international policy sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the Super Committee) outlining what they consider the moral parameters of the debate.
As the letter shows, the bishops’ stance is specific and clear:
Programs that help people meet their basic needs should not be disproportionately targeted for cuts at times of fiscal stress. We also recognize the economic and moral importance of creating jobs with decent wages and spurring economic growth as essential strategies to improve our economy, decrease poverty and reduce future deficits and debt.
…it would be wrong to balance future budgets by hurting those who already
hurt the most by cutting programs such as foreign aid, affordable housing programs, child nutrition, or health care. A just framework also 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 fairly.
Like the letter clergy constituents sent to Super Committee members yesterday regarding fair solutions to the deficit, from clergy in their districts today, the Bishops’ message is a clear warning to politicians who take rigid anti-tax pledges and demand ideological non-defense-spending-cuts-only approaches to deficit reduction.