Network collects nearly 1,000 letters urging Paul Ryan for 'moral' budget

by Dan Stockman

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Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, has collected nearly 1,000 letters from women religious to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, urging him to adopt a "fair and moral" federal budget.

Network officials planned to deliver the letters to the Wisconsin Republican on Dec. 5, but the meeting had to be canceled. The delegation was to include sisters from Ryan's district.

Ashley Wilson, Network's communications manager, said while officials are disappointed, they also understand how busy Ryan's office is as Congress works to avoid a government shutdown, which will occur if it does not pass a budget or a continuing resolution by Dec. 8.

"We're working now to figure out the best way to deliver those letters to him," Wilson said.

The letter campaign continues an effort that has been ongoing for several months, including when, in September, Network joined 34 other faith-based organizations to call for a faithful budget.

"Government of, by, and for the people is a vital forum for promoting the common good, cultivating basic virtues, and ensuring that no one is left behind," the Preamble to the Faithful Budget states. "A federal budget that is faithful to these convictions must promote a compassionate and comprehensive vision for the future. As communities of faith, we call on our elected leaders to craft a Faithful Budget that fulfills our shared duty to each other in all segments of society."

Carol Coston is a founder of Network. Video is courtesy of Network. 

Network officials said the federal budget should meet the needs of all of the population, does not cut domestic human-needs spending to allow for tax cuts for the wealthiest, and does not increase military spending or further militarize border officials and police departments.

Some of the sisters' letters have been posted on the Facebook page "A Fair and Moral Budget: Nuns Write Letters to Paul Ryan," including one by Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary Sr. Irene Cody.

"It has always been my concern to see that all our citizens are treated with concern, care, and true justice. I know that as a Catholic, you hold these same ideals," Cody wrote. "I ask you to reconsider the parts of our federal budget which do not assure workers of a living wage, provision for family leave, and special need for Temporary Assistance in times of difficult family crisis."

Loretto Sr. Martha Crawley also cited Ryan's Catholicism in her letter posted to the Facebook page.

"Our faith tradition is one that encourages you as a national leader to insist on ample funding in the areas of social service, health care, education, housing and other basic human needs," Crawley wrote. "The proliferation of our nations nuclear weapons and military arsenal is clearly not a gospel value. Cutting services to the common people in order to uphold the wealth of a few is not a gospel value. Spending millions on a wall and increased border security is not something Jesus would encourage. Reducing SSDI income to disabled people, reducing food stamp allocation, cutting Medicaid benefits are choices that are the antithesis of our church's teaching on justice."

Wilson said it appears Congress will pass a continuing resolution before the week is out, pushing back the date by which it must pass a budget until at least later in December.

[Dan Stockman is national correspondent for Global Sisters Report. His email address is Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.]