US Bishops Urge Socially Conscious Budget Cuts

Warns Against Cutting Aid to World’s Poor

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 7, 2011 ( – The bishops of the United States are urging lawmakers to be fiscally responsible «in morally appropriate ways.» 

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, stated this in a letter sent Tuesday to the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. The missive was co-signed by Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services.

The letter urged making «poverty-focused humanitarian and development assistance» a priority in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012. 

Citing that the «enacted FY2011 Foreign Affairs budget cut … life-saving programs by an average of 8.4% from FY2010,» the letter warns that «further cuts would be disproportionate and life-threatening to the world’s poorest people.»

Among the life-saving programs that both Bishop Hubbard and Hackett are working to preserve are: «agricultural assistance to poor farmers, medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS and vaccines for preventable diseases;» as well as «assistance to orphans and other vulnerable children, humanitarian assistance in cases of famine; emergency health care; … and reconstruction in disaster-devastated places like Haiti; [and] peacekeepers to protect innocent civilians in troubled nations such as Sudan and the Congo.» 

«The subcommittee must cut with great care, eliminating only those expenses unrelated to basic human needs and development,» the letter stated, adding that middle or high-income countries would be better equipped to deal with economic cuts.

The letter also included other specific and morally conscious suggestions on how to protect the most vulnerable among us while still making important cuts in government spending, including «restoring the Mexico City Policy against funding groups that perform or promote abortion, and denying funding to the U.N. Population Fund, which supports a program of coerced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China.» 

The letter also supports the Helms Amendment and the Kemp-Kasten provision, both of which stand in opposition of abortion and imposed sterilization.

The letter concluded with an invitation by both the USCCB and Catholic Relief Services to work alongside «leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity.»

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