Protect the poor in deficit reduction measures

November 14, 2011

Nov. 14, 2011

The Honorable Jeb Hensarling
United States House of Representatives
129 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Hensarling:

On behalf of the Roman Catholic dioceses and the seven million Catholics of Texas, we offer our support and prayers as you take up the crucial task of serving on the Congressional Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction. We are grateful for your willingness to step forward to help resolve the government’s fiscal predicament. Our request is that while doing so, you avow to uphold the dignity and survival of the underprivileged of our society both at home and abroad.

You and your colleagues are certain to face a number of difficult economic and political choices. We understand the tenuousness of the federal government’s current fiscal situation, and that appropriate measures be taken. Continued deficits and debt will only further suffocate job creation and economic growth across all socioeconomic levels. However, as Catholic bishops, we approach these matters not as partisans, but as pastors who cope with the consequences of these decisions every day in our dioceses and parishes. As you well know, poverty has grown to unprecedented levels in the United States, affecting some 46 million Americans. Countless working families are barely hanging together in communities steeped in unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and hunger. Government programs that help the most vulnerable and needy with affordable housing, adequate food, and basic health care should not be disproportionately targeted for cuts during these economically trying times. Further weakening the social safety net would risk plunging even more low and moderate income families into poverty.

The Catholic Church is deeply committed to its mission of caring for the poor and unfortunate, but all the denominations combined could not carry the burden alone. A just framework calls for shared sacrifice and responsibility from us all, including the federal government’s making appropriate spending choices, raising adequate revenues and addressing the long-term costs of health care. Along with our brother bishops from across the country, we ask that when making these crucial decisions, you prioritize the sanctity of human life and serve the needs of the least of our brethren” (Matthew 25) who may be hungry, homeless, sick, unemployed, and suffering.

Please accept our hopes and prayers that you and your colleagues on the Joint Select Committee can work [to] achieve a bipartisan budgetary plan that reduces our future debt and deficits [and] prioritize[s] the needs of our most vulnerable-the unborn, the elderly, struggling families and those who are homeless or sick.

God’s peace be with you,

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller
Archdiocese of San Antonio