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US Bishops urge government to make poor a priority

 The US bishops have urged Congress to make poor families and vulnerable workers central priorities as Congress adopts an economic recovery legislation. Bishop William F Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), made the call in a January 28 letter to both houses of Congress.

"Low-income families and individuals are experiencing the greatest hardship and have the least capacity to cope in this time of economic crisis," Bishop Murphy said in the letter, adding that these people are also more likely "to use these new resources quickly to purchase the essentials of life and to help move our economy forward."

Citing the need to avoid partisan or ideological agendas and to focus on the needs of the poor, Bishop Murphy offered the bishops' support for aspects of the proposed recovery legislation. These include increasing funds for nutrition assistance through food stamps and other programs, protecting low-income families from losing Medicaid and social service assistance, and extending Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. He also urged the House to reject measures regarding contraception and immigration as unnecessary and inconsistent with the purposes of the recovery legislation.

Bishop Murphy echoed Pope Benedict XVI's call to bolster the economy by focusing on the dignity of the human person, adding, "This is a time to pursue the common good, beginning with help for the families and communities most hurt by this crisis."

Source: UCCB