Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Watch Obama and Romney Statements on Hunger and Poverty

Obama-Romney-Video-Image-smallerNEWIf you've been waiting for the presidential candidates to talk about issues affecting poor and hungry people, the wait is over.

Today, the Circle of Protection and Bread for the World debut historic videos of President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney talking about their respective plans to provide help and opportunity for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.

[Watch the videos now]

This summer, the Christian leaders comprising the Circle of Protection asked both candidates to record these brief video statements. The debut of the candidate videos comes on the same day as the release of new U.S. Census Bureau poverty data figures that reveal 15 percent of Americans lived in poverty in 2011.

“We can pay down our debt in a balanced and responsible way, but we cannot balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable," said President Obama in his video statement. "And certainly can’t ask the poor, the sick, or those with disabilities to sacrifice even more, or ask the middle-class to pay more, just so we can offer massive new tax cuts to those who’ve been blessed with the most.  It’s not just bad economics, it’s morally wrong."

"If we’re going to help lift our brothers and sisters out of poverty we must restore our economy and reduce the debt," said Governor Romney in his video. "When our economy is healthy and growing, we have the resources to take care of those who still find themselves in need. That’s why we must deliver the recovery we have all been waiting for, and the jobs too many Americans are still looking for."

After watching the videos, please share them on Facebook, and Twitter. Then, let President Obama and Mitt Romney know what you think of their respective plans to eliminate hunger and poverty. And, finally, learn more about what you can do to urge elected officials to form a circle of protection around programs that help poor and hungry people.  


« What Do Obama and Romney Have to Say About Hunger and Poverty? Prayers for Our Diplomats and Development Workers »


A circle of protection around what kinds of "programs"? Just federally funded and administered ones or all programs? Is it in the poor and hungry's best interest to be utterly dependent on just one federal program or bureaucracy? Is it not much wiser to spread the solution as wide and deep as possible rather than just keep it the domain if not monopoly of the few (i.e. Feds)? Subsidiarity would hold that poverty and hunger be solved primarily on a local, non-profit and personal level and only supported by local, county, municipal, state and federal dollars if absolutely necessary, not primarily federalize it (which de-humanizes and de-couples the local poor from their peers, neighbors and kin and thus makes them invisible to their immediate neighbors).

As Catholics our preferential option for the poor means we, the people, are morally responsible for helping them. We're not living our vocation to solidarity if we just vote for someone else to be fleeced to pay for these programs.

Corporal and spiritual works of mercy must be done personally and giving must be voluntary in order to be moral. Forced charity is not charity. And it's not received as a gift with a sense of personal gratitude but rather is received as an entitlement that does not build up social links of solidarity and love.

The presumption many have here is that the poor are poor only because they have insufficient federal subsidy and that consequently the only solution to poverty is more federal wealth transfers.

The USSR proved (and the EU is proving again) that mere government wealth transfers do not lead to long term, sustainable growth or human dignity.

As Catholics we need to think first of the Kingdom and righteousness and only then of secular, political solutions. To hear some talk of these elections you'd think "the economy" is the government and that wealth creation is "the government". That "poverty" is some odd disease and money alone is the only cure.
That the poor need have no personal responsibility and that the rich can have no moral standing except when being fleeced and that between the two, the bureaucracy is always morally neutral.

If all federal poverty programs ended tonight, does anyone think our neighbors would simply starve? Does anyone think we, the people, would not step up to care for them? When have we the people ever sat on our hands and let our neighbors suffer after some tragedy or catastrophe? Have we not immediately come to the aid of strangers without waiting for government command and control? So why the continued presumption that poverty (and health care) and education and everything else good in life can only come thanks to some government program?

If Catholics, and other religions, were truly serving mankind and solving issues of poverty and hunger as their own doctrines instruct that they must do, then verily I say unto you, those issues would no longer be with us.

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