As the House of Representatives takes up its budget reconciliation bill, the chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committees for domestic and international policy said they are “deeply disappointed” by the proposal, particularly its lack of concern for children.
In a Nov. 8 letter to the House, the bishops said several programs that serve vulnerable people—often children—would lose funds if the legislation passes in its current form.
The letter was signed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, chairman of the USCCB Domestic Policy Committee and Bishop John Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee, chairman of the USCCB International Policy Committee.
Last February, when Congress began the process of developing the 2006 budget, USCCB president Bishop William Skylstad urged Congress to remember that budget decisions “will reflect not only economic policies but moral choices,” and “to give priority attention in the budget to the needs of poor and vulnerable people both here and abroad.”
The bishops said their recent letter reiterates these priorities and shares their view on how the bill may impact key programs and the people they serve.
“We are guided by Catholic moral principles: respect for human life and dignity; the importance of family and the value of work; an option for the poor and the call for participation; and the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity,” they wrote. “We also draw upon the Church’ experience living with, and serving the poor among us. As perhaps the largest non-governmental provider of health care and human services to vulnerable people, the Catholic community meets the poor in our soup kitchens, Catholic Charities agencies and health care facilities.”
Bishops DiMarzio and Ricard said the reconciliation bill would lead to cuts in the food stamp program, health care for the poor, temporary assistance for needy families, child support funds, and agricultural programs.
“We urge you to remember that the federal budget is more than a fiscal plan; it reflects our values as a people…In these difficult times, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urges you to work for a budget that does not neglect the needs of the ‘least of these’ in our nation and the world,” the bishops wrote.
To read full text of the letter: