Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Food and faith

Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, as Chairman of Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, together with Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, who is Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, recently sent a letter to the Chairman and the ranking member of the House Appropriates Committee about the moral and human dimensions of the current FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. They wrote, in part:
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we write to address the moral and human dimensions of the current FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. We express our deep concerns that the current proposal calls for significant cuts to both domestic and international food aid, conservation and rural development programs. These proposed cuts will greatly affect programs that serve hungry, poor and vulnerable people in our nation and around the world.

In For I Was Hungry and You Gave Me Food: Catholic Reflections on Food, Farmers and Farmworkers, the U.S. Catholic bishops wrote, “The primary goals of agricultural policies should be providing food for all people and reducing poverty among farmers and farm workers in this country and abroad.” Adequate nutrition is a fundamental human right. It is in this context that we urge you to support just and adequate funding levels for agriculture policies that serve the hungry, poor and vulnerable while being good stewards of our land and natural resources.

We wish to clearly acknowledge the difficult challenges that Congress, the Administration and government at all levels face to get our financial house in order. In light of growing deficits, Congress faces difficult choices about how to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices. However, a just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.

As pastors and teachers, we 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.

2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 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.

The rest of the letter, with the recommendations of the bishops, is here.

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