Bishops join in fighting cuts to anti-poverty programs

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., and Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., have joined an ecumenical effort to oppose budget cuts to anti-poverty programs and congressional plans to make additional reductions in spending on programs supporting the poor.

The two California bishops will join evangelical, mainline Protestant, African-American and Latino Christian leaders in a series of press conferences today to introduce an ecumenical coalition called the Circle of Protection.

The coalition was formed as Congress and the White House debates federal spending priorities in the face of the mounting budget deficit.

The religious leaders say they believe the U.S. budget must favor moral principles over political choices and expressed concern that anti-poverty programs are among those seeing disproportionate cuts.

“As Christian leaders, we are committed to fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice,” said a statement on the coalition’s website. “We are also committed to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity and rights of poor and vulnerable people. Therefore, we join with others to form a Circle of Protection around programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.”

CNS will have full coverage later today.

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