The budget for FY 2013 proposed, and championed by Rep. Paul Ryan, the Chairman of the committee on the budget, was adopted by the House of Representatives on March 27, 2012. Governor Romney’s selection of Rep. Ryan as his vice-presidential candidate and his endorsement of the Ryan Budget establishes the foundation of the fiscal platform of the Republican Party.
The Catholic News Service of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops reviewed the Council’s response to the Budget and “its concerns over proposed cuts in federal programs serving the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.” (April 19, 2012).
The programs negatively affected by the Ryan Budget included, for example, The Women’s Infants’ and Children’s Nutrition Program; The Emergency Food Assistance Program (food pantries); Food Stamp Program for distressed families; The Commodity Supplemental Food Program for low-income seniors, pregnant and breast feeding women, infants and children; and the Medicare program.
Bishops Stephen E. Blaire and Richard E. Pates, speaking on behalf of the United States conference of Catholic Bishops in a letter to a subcommittee for Agriculture, datedApril 16, 2012, wrote “major reductions at this time of economic turmoil and rising poverty will hurt hungry, poor and vulnerable people in our nation and around the world”. It concluded that the needs of the hungry and the poor should “come before assistance to those who are well off and powerful.”
Bishop Blaire in a letter, dated April 16, 2012 to the Committee on Agriculture citing “unacceptable cuts to hunger and nutrition programs” warned that such cuts “are unjustified and wrong.” He reviewed Catholic moral criteria which the Bishops established to guide budget considerations and concluded: “The House—passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.”
In a letter by Bishop Blaire on behalf of USCCB dated May 8, 2012 to the U.S. House of Representatives addressing the moral standards set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church declared that “…deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility efforts must protect and not undermine the needs of poor and vulnerable people. The cuts to programs in the budget reconciliation fail this basic moral test.”
We have been reminded rightfully on many occasions that American Catholics have a duty to form a right conscience in casting their votes. Surely, as Catholics we will be justified in being guided by the Catholic Bishops’ pleas for Christian charity when we reject the Ryan Budget and those who support it.
Very truly yours,
Ralph G. Conte
Ann M. Conte