Well, the nation did not default on its obligations, the debt limit was raised and everybody gave a big sigh of relief. It reminds me a little of a wedding day. After all the work that preceded the nuptial day, when the wedding is over everybody gives a big sigh of relief. But we all know that the really hard work of building a marriage is still ahead. So it is with the “debt crisis”. The hard work is still ahead, and the American bishops are concerned.
We are concerned that the choices to be made are not only economic and political, but also moral.
In a letter sent to Congress last week Bishop Stephen Blaire, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace made clear the Conference of Bishops’ concerns.
“As Catholic bishops, we lead a community that brings both moral principles and everyday experience to this discussion. We defend the unborn, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, educate the young, welcome refugees, and care for the sick, both at home and abroad. As teachers, we offer several moral criteria to help guide difficult budgetary decisions:
1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity.
2. 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.
3. 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.
A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.”
As the crucial decisions of budget reductions are made during the coming months there will be no lack of lobbyists for giant corporations and special interest groups. The American bishops hope to encourage others to follow their lead in being the voice for the voiceless, keeping in mind James 1:27:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish