As the President and congressional leaders continue discussions this week regarding the debt ceiling, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, and Catholic Relief Services wrote to Congress to address the moral and human dimensions of the ongoing budget debate. In light of the national deficit and inflation, Congress faces difficult choices about how to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices. These choices are economic, political, and moral. This important national discussion requires wise bipartisan leadership, clear priorities, and moral integrity.
The three organizations 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 and safeguards the conditions for human flourishing.
2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Mt 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.