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Bishop responds to proposed budget cuts

Published: May 26, 2017

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor released the following statement regarding the proposed budget cuts, and the affects they would have on the poor and vulnerable overseas on Friday, May 26, 2017.

Based on the teaching of Jesus to care for “the least among us,” the Catholic Church proclaims a consistent ethic of life in which we are to protect human life and human dignity from the first moment of conception to natural death and every stage in between.

This ethic of life is not limited by a person’s age, physical or mental condition, guilt or innocence, nationality or place of residence but is marked by a special obligation on the part of those who are most able to provide the most help to those who need it the most.

And of course as the wealthiest country in the world, the United States has a particularly great obligation to provide assistance to the poor, weak and vulnerable in our own country and throughout the world. This obligation is incumbent on our nation as a whole — one nation “under God” — and so not merely an obligation of religious groups, hence the obligation of our government to provide significant poverty-focused assistance locally and overseas.

The proposed U.S. budget for the coming year includes steep cuts for poverty-based assistance, which is at odds with our moral obligation to help “the least among us” who are suffering from drought or conflict or extreme poverty, as well as those who lack access to clean water, life-saving medicines and childhood vaccinations.

Poverty-focused foreign aid is a tiny portion of our national budget, about one-third of one percent of the total, and while cutting this assistance would do almost nothing to reduce our nation’s deficit spending, it would do a great deal of harm to those who are helped by these funds. We must continue to support those whose lives hang in the balance, both as individuals and as a nation.

While it is true that our government has an obligation to review the appropriateness and administration of specific programs — eliminating those that are ineffective or harmful (for instance, programs that fund abortions or sterilization) — it is also true that most foreign aid programs make a real positive difference in the lives of millions of people and should be continued and even expanded.

Let us continue to help “the least among us”, a challenge proclaimed in the teachings of Jesus that is as compelling as ever today for all people of good will. Please take a few minutes today to contact our U.S. congressman and senators, asking them to maintain funding for our many vital foreign aid programs that help our neighbors living in poverty throughout the world. U.S. senators and representatives can be reached at (202) 224-3121.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor
Diocese of Little Rock