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Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
May 7, 1982     Arkansas Catholic
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May 7, 1982

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PAGE 8 THE GUARDIAN, MAY 7, 1982 i Bishop Sullivan Discusses Harsh Realities of Economic System Main Speaker Sister Judith Marie Keitl, R.S.M. (above), ad- ministrator of St. Edward's Mercy Medical Center, Fort Smith, and John Zipprich, corporate at- torney for Incarnate Word SCH Corporate Office, were the main speakers at the annual spring conference of the eight Arkansas Catholic hospitals held recently at St. John's Center, Little Rock. Sister Judith Marie spoke on multi-hospital systems. Mr. Zipprich spoke on Religious Congregational Co-Operat- ives. Theme of the two-day conclave was "Corporate Ventures for the 80's." ARCHBISHOP DIES Busto Arsizio, Italy (NC) -- Archbishop Silvio Luoni, 61, head of the Holy See's delegation to the Conference on European Security and Continued from Pg. 2 economic pressures, there must be no abandonment of the government's respon- sibility, no retreat from the social progress that has marked our history in the past 50 years. Advocacy for the Poor Mr• Chairman, many of the items your task force is considering are programs targeted for poor people. When the Catholic Church enters the arena of public debate, we are not neutral• We enter with an explicit and conscious advocacy on behalf of the poor. Poor people do not have much power. In the tug and pull of the political process they are not likely to win out. They are without powerful political allies and lobbying networks• They do not con- tribute much to election campaigns, and they do not vote as much as the rest of the population• As a result, particularly in the budget squeeze, the poor have been the worst victims. In examining the effects of last year's budget cuts and the cuts proposed for fiscal year 1983, I cannot help but recall the words of Pope John Paul II in a speech he gave last year. He said: "The present economic difficulties. • .must not become a pretext for giving in to the temptation to make the poor pay for the solutions to the problems of deeper cuts proposed this year for fiscal year 1983, stand in stark contrast to the massive tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations. The extreme inequities that already exist are growing at an almost unprecedented rate. To cut taxes for the wealthy and increase military spending to unprecedented levels while at the same time punishing the poor with cuts in entitlement programs, is unfair and un- wise. In my view it is difficult to justify morally. It is con- trary to the basic human rights of the poor. Allow me to offer from our Catholic tradition a principle which I hope and pray will be a moral criterion that will govern the actions of the Budget Committee and the entire Congress in the months ahead. That principle is as follows: The poor have a right to have their minimum needs met before the less basic desires and wants of others are fulfilled. I submit that this moral principle should take precedence over the purely political and economic factors which are inherent in the budget debate. The nation's current economic and budgetary problems are obviously very serious. But these lroblems can and must be solved without punishing the poor, without violating their rights to basic necessities. In the Christian tradition, how we treat the poor is seen as a measure of our religious faith. I believe it is also a measure of our health as a nation and Our wisdom as a people. Conclusion This s an important moment in the economic and political history of our land -- a moment in which we face some basic choices con- cerning national economic and social policy. In our view the budget cuts should be seen in the broader context of this nation's commitment to meeting the basic needs of its citizens. I fear that the radical economic experiment on which the administration has emharked -- with the support of some members of both parties in the Congress -- and the budget cuts which are a central element of that policy, are more than a mere incident in the political process. I am concerned that there could be a tendency to solve our economic problems at the expense of the poor, the weak and those who are politically least influential. Such policies threaten to deeply divide our nation, to tear the very fabric of our society, to make us less responsive to human needs. We in the Catholic Church believe that this trend must be firmly resisted. We were present during the 1930's when the major social programs of our nation were initiated. We supported them - their joys and because they helped to guarantee the fundamental dignity of all persons and to meet their essential human needs. Now, when these programs are in jeopardy, we are committed to speaking out in their defense. We join with others in working for the goal of more effective and humane programs, but cut- ting back or abandoning programs is not the way to reach that goal. In closing I wish to em- phasize that the debate over entitlement programs, as well as the larger debate over the federal budget, is not simply a debate about numbers and dollars and programs• It is about human beings :- children, parents, the elderly - successes and fail hopes and dreams. It American families whether or not they enough food on the enough income to: them, enough medical guarantee their full and mental is, in short, a human dignity. ADDENDUM -- Action can be ta| support the position ciated by Bishop Sulli writing or calling the Arkansas Con delegation. 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