Bishop Richard Pates, in his role as chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, sent a letter on Monday to the U.S. House urging a "Circle of Protection" around the poor and vulnerable.
Joined by Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Pates said both he and Bishop Blaire had been consistent on supporting a reduction in the federal deficit. However, both said "... a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts to programs that help people live in a manner worthy of their human dignity." They went on to say, "This will include raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly."
To look at decisions with moral criteria, one must consider whether the decisions threaten human life and dignity, how they affect "the least of these" (Matthew 25), and that they promote the common good of all, "especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times."
Bishops Pates and Blaire concluded their letter saying, "The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless and poor are treated. Their voices are too often missing but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources."
You can read the full letter here.