The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) recently released a statement fully supporting the Wisconsin Bishops and the Rights of Workers. Instead of citing supporting lines from the statement here is a link to the full position from the USCCB:
It is a short statement and I recommend that people read this official Catholic position. Within the statement of support that is written by Bishop Stephen Blaire, the Chairman of the USCCBs’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, he reminds us that the situation which Wisconsin is only a taste of the great budget crisis which our nations and all our states will need to examine.
The situation in Wisconsin is not unique. Other states and the federal government also face daunting challenges of growing budget deficits and how to allocate burdens and share sacrifice in ways that reflect principles of social justice, economic fairness and wise stewardship. Your efforts to share the consistent teaching of the Church in the midst of this controversy are an example for all of us on how to apply our moral principles to the “signs of the times.”
The Catholic position continues to advocate for fiscally responsible decisions that “reflect principles of social justice, economic fairness and wise stewardship”. We are challenged to find creative solutions that address this crisis within the framework of these principles. The simple dichotomy of cutting or not cutting services do not offer a creative solution. The Center for American Progress offers an interesting study that shows how certain tax breaks are more costly to our federal budget than crucial service programs.
It is completely irresponsible during this financial crisis to declare that tax breaks are off the table. Where is the moral compass of our nation when we allow social responsibility programs to bear the burden of the budget cuts and declare that tax breaks are off the table? The poor and vulnerable are being asked to shoulder the burden of the financial crisis while the affluent members of our society are told that they will not be harmed by these difficult decisions. This is neither a Christian position nor is it an American position especially since our own moral vision declares that “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
At the recent Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG) the Catholic community advocated our position to protect the poor and vulnerable during this fiscal crisis. Below I will paste the portion of the CSMG statement that offers this position. I invite those of you who read this post to contact your own congressional legislators and add your voice to this critical moral message.
PUTTING THE POOR AND VULNERABLE FIRST IN BUDGET PRIORITIES
In the face of historic deficits and rising costs of entitlement programs and war, the nation faces unavoidable choices on how to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices. The message of the Catholic community is as clear as Matthew 25 – a central moral measure of our nation and the federal budget is how “the least of these” are treated. Those who are jobless or live in poverty, those who are hungry or homeless do not have powerful lobbies, but they have the most compelling claim on our consciences and our common resources. The Catholic community supports policies that strengthen the safety net and opposes proposals that weaken it in this time of increasing needs and rising poverty.
In the debates and decisions to come over how to raise sufficient revenues, allocate limited resources, and balance competing interests, we urge our leaders to look at these choices from the “bottom-up”: how to protect and defend the lives and dignity of the poorest and most vulnerable, not only in or own nation but around the world as well. We urge Congress and the Administration to adequately fund domestic discretionary programs and entitlement programs that protect low-income and vulnerable people – put those who are poor and vulnerable first.