U.S. Catholic Bishops Call for Circle of Protection During FY2013 Budget Debate
On April 16, 2012 the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) sent letters to the Agriculture Committee and the Ways and Means Committee of the House urging members to create a “circle of protection” around resources to fund programs for poor and hungry people. This statement mirrors the Christian position that Bread for the World has been using for our own 2012 Offering of Letters campaign. Here is how they conclude their letter to these Congressional committees:
At a time of great competition for agricultural resources and budgetary constraints, the needs of those who are hungry, poor and vulnerable should come before assistance to those who are relatively well off and powerful. With other Christian leaders, we urge the committee to draw a” circle of protection’ around resources that serve those in greatest need and to put their needs first even though they do not have powerful advocates or great influence. The moral measure of the agriculture appropriations process is how it serves “the least of these.”
The USCCB has offered this letter as part of their Campaign on the Federal Budget, which addresses a number of issues and concerns including SNAP and the Child Tax Credit. They also emphasize how these recent letters echo a consistent message from the Bishops in declaring that the “federal budget must form ‘circle of protection’ around ‘the least of these’”
The US Catholic Bishops also articulate for us some core Christian principles for assessing the “moral measure” of the federal budget. In it they cite three theological benchmarks.
- Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
- 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.
- 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.
Hooray for the USCCB for bringing their prophetic voice to bear in this campaign of ours and on these specific issues!
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