Careless Cuts Will Cost Lives

by Kathleen Ryan, SND on May 16, 2012

in Blogs


How many of us think we spend too much money helping other nations deal with issues of poverty and not enough money on our own poverty issues?  Would you be surprised to know that poverty-focused international assistance makes up less than 0.5% of the U.S. federal budget?  O.5%!

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,  (USCCB) recently stated, “This little bit of funding saves millions of lives around the world by providing food to the hungry, shelter to refugees, helping small farmers grow more crops, and educating children for a more prosperous and stable future. Cutting this assistance will not balance the federal budget, but careless cuts will cost lives.”

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) recently released statistics on the rising incidences of polio in India as well as other developing countries.  While eradicated in the Unites States and in fact, rare,  CRS reports, “a polio outbreak in India or elsewhere in the world could have serious consequences for unvaccinated people in far-off places, spreading rapidly and causing paralysis in children for life and sometimes even killing them.”

Congress is now preparing to make important decisions about how much funding to make available for programs such as this polio vaccine initiative and many others that are saving and changing lives around the world. While our nation’s fiscal challenges are significant, we need to advocate for poverty-focused international assistance, which makes up less than 0.5% of the U.S. federal budget.

Your voice makes a difference. Your support for this lifesaving funding last year helped stave off steep cuts in the past.   Your voice is now needed again. Contact your members of Congress today and urge them to support poverty-focused international assistance in the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bills at the highest levels possible.  Catholic Relief Services suggests the following advocacy action.

Instructions for Calling Your Members of Congress’ Office:



during normal working hours. You will hear a pre-recorded message with the following talking points. You will then be connected to the Capitol Switchboard. Ask to speak with your Senators and your Representative. If you don’t know who they are, find out by entering your zip code on this page.

Once connected with your Members’ office, ask to speak to the staff person responsible for appropriations issues. Tell the staff that you want your Senators/Representative to:

– Protect lifesaving funding for international poverty-focused humanitarian and development programs that are saving and changing lives around the world.

– Poverty-focused international assistance makes up less than 0.5% of the U.S. federal budget. This little bit of funding saves millions of lives around the world by providing food to the hungry, shelter to refugees, and educating children for a more prosperous and stable future.

– We cannot balance our budget on the backs of the poor

Don’t forget!

Call 1866-596-7030 again to talk to both your Senators and your Representative.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret Hartman, SND May 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Thanks for the info. How much of the federal budget is designated for poverty-focused programs in the U.S.?


Katie August 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I have found that our government is not capable of doing much, especially when it comes to spending our money. Our idea of helping with poverty consists in a pro-death mentality. Whether it is paying for people’s sterilizations, abortions, or birth control -the idea is that we have too many poor people and the solution is to have less people and therefore less of them will be poor. I’m surprised that you’re advocating support for government spending. I’m not denying thing that the money might possibly do some good. However, charity is a gift from the heart. When the government steals your money to give to someone else you’re not giving. Government programs prevent true charity and true giving. We ought to discourage government spending (especially since the government does not hold Catholic beliefs about respecting life at every age) and promote budget cuts to promote more prosperity for the American people. Americans are extremely generous and are better able to manage their money and donate it to help with worthy and true causes. I think that we need to have more faith in the generosity of our fellow man, and trust that he will give of himself freely, and that the government doesn’t have to force him to give his money away.


Kathleen Ryan, SND August 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Thanks for your reply. I would like to recommend to you the US Bishops Pastoral of 1986, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011, entitled Economic Justice for All. Here are some excerpts for your consideration:
Our faith calls us to measure this economy not only by what it produces, but also by how it touches human life and whether it protects or undermines the dignity of the human person. Economic decisions have human consequences and moral content; they help or hurt people, strengthen or weaken family life, advance or diminish the quality of justice in our land.

As Catholics, we are heirs of a long tradition of thought and action on the moral dimensions of economic activity. The life and words of Jesus and the teaching of his Church call us to serve those in need and to work actively for social and economic justice. As a community of believers, we know that our faith is tested by the quality of justice among us, that we can best measure our life together by how the poor and the vulnerable are treated. This is not a new concern for us. It is as old as the Hebrew prophets, as compelling as the Sermon on the Mount, and as current as the powerful voice of Pope John Paul II defending the dignity of the human person.

16. All members of society have a special obligation to the poor and vulnerable. From the Scriptures and church teaching we learn that the justice of a society is tested by the treatment of the poor. The justice that was the sign of God’s covenant with Israel was measured by how the poor and unprotected—the widow, the orphan, and the stranger—were treated. The kingdom that Jesus proclaimed in his word and ministry excludes no one. Throughout Israel’s history and in early Christianity, the poor are agents of God’s transforming power. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, therefore he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor” (Lk 4:18). This was Jesus’ first public utterance. Jesus takes the side of those most in need. In the Last Judgment, so dramatically described in St. Matthew’s Gospel, we are told that we will be judged according to how we respond to the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger. As followers of Christ, we are challenged to make a fundamental “option for the poor”—to speak for the voiceless, to defend the defenseless, to assess life styles, policies, and social institutions in terms of their impact on the poor. This “option for the poor” does not mean pitting one group against another, but rather, strengthening the whole community by assisting those who are most vulnerable. As Christians, we are called to respond to the needs of all our brothers and sisters, but those with the greatest needs require the greatest response.


Katie August 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Sr. Kathleen,
Thanks for your response, however I think that you missed my point. I 100% agree with the passage you quoted from Economic Justice for All. However, I think that it supports my point more than it supports yours. My point is more focused on respecting the dignity of all human persons involved in the acts of charity.

The Catholic Church teaches that all human begins are created in the image and likeness of God and all have by their very existence an inherent value, worth and distinction.

One of the ways that we’re created in the image and likeness of God is that we have Free Will. When a person’s free will is violated, it is a violation of that person’s dignity. You quoted above, “Our faith calls us to measure this economy not only by what it produces, but also by how it touches human life and whether it protects or undermines a person’s dignity.” It is a violation of my free will and of my freedom of religion that the government takes my money against my will to spend it on birth control, sterilizations, and abortions for the poor and underprivileged. If I do not allow them to do so I will be forced to pay fines and I can be put in prison. That is the measure of our economy. Does it protect or undermine a person’s dignity?

Like you quoted, “Economic decisions have human consequences and moral content; they help or hurt people, strengthen or weaken human life, advance or diminish the quality of justice in our land.” I often find that those demanding that we care for the poor don’t respect the dignity of the giver. If you don’t respect the dignity of the giver, how do you respect the dignity of the poor?

God gave man free will. That is an essential part of charity. Is it charity if the government takes your money and gives it away for you? Or is it charity if you decide to give your money to the poor freely? Which is better for the giver? Which is better for the receiver?

What if you come upon a person who doesn’t give at all? Should you force him to give because you know it is right to give and the poor’s need is greater? Is that what Christ taught? Steal from the rich to give to the poor? Or did Christ teach, I have given you free will and now you must decide if you will live your life according to my teachings, or if you will live selfishly? Isn’t that the point of free will-a test to see if you will follow the teaching of Christ, freely?

Is it good for the person to be forced to give? Is it going to encourage love and charity? Or will it inspire hatred because it is unjust to steal from one person to give to another? Is it Economic Justice for All to force charity?

Is paying taxes truly charity? “Yes St. Peter, I helped the poor. I paid my taxes!” Is he really going to be impressed? Is that “the option for the poor” that Christ is talking about?

Government spending removes the act of charity from the individual, and therefore removes the value from the act and all of the grace. People often forget that charity does not just benefit the poor, it benefits the giver. The giver must make a sacrifice. They acknowledge the need of the other. They receive grace from giving. If it is forced then their is no grace. It is better for the receiver to receive from someone. If you get a check from some big powerful organization are you really going to feel all that grateful? If Mike with three kids sacrifices his new car so that he can help you, wouldn’t you feel more grateful? Wouldn’t you understand the human element in charity a little more?

Finally, as Christians, don’t you think that we should have faith and trust that our fellow men will freely give of themselves to others? America is the most generous nation in the history of mankind. Do we need to force American’s to give? Do we trust the American government to properly care for the poor when it is allowing the slaughter of millions of unborn in our country, and pays for the slaughter of the unborn in other countries? Or do we trust that American’s will give? And will give to good charities that will respect the dignity of the human person and will respect all human life at all ages?


Kathleen Ryan, SND August 28, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Hi Kate,
Thanks again for your thoughts. I appreciate your deep desire to give from the heart and to do so willingly and in response to a loving God of life who has given us everything. I am not sure how you are equating paying taxes with charity. Citizens have a responsibility to support their government. That’s why the bishops say state and federal budgets are moral documents. They say who is important in a society. The environment is important, education is important, military spending is important, providing a safety net for the most vulnerable among us is important. There are as many reasons why there are poor people as there are poor people. Jesus didn’t ask us to love the deserving poor. He asked us to love one another as He loved us.
One of my favorite posters is, “I wish the military had to have a bake sale to buy weapons as we have to have a bake sale to provide school supplies.
I totally agree with you that America is the most generous nation on earth and that is apart from paying their taxes. Americans see so much grief and sorrow connected with being poor and so generously respond. No government program that I know of ever supplies all a person needs. Thank God for the generosity of strangers that wnt to do what they can to help.
Sr. Kathleen


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