WASHINGTON--The U.S. bishops stand ready to work with Congress "to protect poor and vulnerable people, promote human life and dignity, and advance the common good," said the bishops who chair two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a November 17 letter to Congress. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, urged Congressional leaders to draw a "circle of protection" around programs serving the poor and vulnerable as they weigh spending and tax legislation.
"As pastors, we see every day the human consequences of budget choices. Our Catholic community defends the unborn, feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, educates the young, and cares for the sick, both at home and abroad. These voices are too often missing from public policy debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources," wrote Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantu.
Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantu chair the USCCB committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
They highlighted nutrition for women, infants and children; affordable housing; community health centers; and mental health services and workforce development as programs that should not be cut. They also expressed support for extending the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.
Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Cantu also noted the importance of poverty-focused international assistance, humanitarian and disaster assistance, long-term development programs and international food and agriculture programs.
Full text of the letter is available online.