In our country we are guaranteed “freedom of religion.” We have no state church or even a particular church that is preferred over others. This fact does not mean that we can’t bring the religious values we hold to those governing our country.
We should be able to stand up for the moral values we claim as important while at the same time not forcing anyone to become a member of our faith. What we need to bring forward are our moral convictions, especially those convictions that flow not from some doctrine or dogma but from our understanding of Jesus and His clear preference for the poor and the powerless, the sick and the sinner.
When our political parties are designing budgets that impact people, we need to bring our moral convictions to the debate. The bottom line for us Catholics and for most Christians is that our government is there to support the people, especially the people who fall through the cracks; the unemployed, the under-employed, the children, the homeless and penniless, the aged, and those without health insurance.
The bishops of the Catholic Church say that any budget crafted by our legislators must give preference to the poor. And the budget crafted by Paul Ryan, a Catholic, will hurt the poor.
The Catholic bishops said, “that a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.” The bishops note, “that the House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.”
Those of us, who strive to follow Jesus, know that poverty levels are going up. All we need to do is ask those who worship with us. They themselves are often feeling the sting of poverty or they know someone who is. This is not acceptable in a country that rivals the world in financial resources.
And no fast talk or discussion of the debt we are in as a country, can ever justify hurting the poor through budget cuts that will have no negative effect on the richest among us.
As followers of Jesus we know this.
So why the push back from Catholic/Christian politicians? Certainly these folks are not applying the Gospel principle of a “preferential option for the poor” to their proposed legislation. What to do?
Certainly we need to vote for people who uphold the moral principles we hold dear. We also need to pray for those in power. As we have been “changed” by our Redeemer and Lord, so can they.
And in addition to prayer, our active voice needs to be added to those who do feel the urgent need to protect the most vulnerable among us. Amen