Social Action Catholics Lobby, Strategize to Shield the Poor
Vidulich, Dorothy, National Catholic Reporter
WASHINGTON - While the Republican-dominated Congress on Capitol Hill gathered to continue cutting back programs for the poor, a few blocks away more than 300 Catholic social ministry leaders from across the country met to assess the potential damage from those reforms.
The annual Social Action Convening, cosponsored by 12 national Catholic organizations engaged in peace and justice work, included an afternoon on Capitol Hill to give diocesan social action leaders the opportunity to lobby legislators from their home states. The conference ran from Feb. 26 to March 1.
Sharon Daly, deputy to the Catholic Charities U.S.A. president, warned the participants, "When you go the Hill tomorrow, you will hear repeatedly that we are helping people so much they no longer want to work or be responsible - the problem is too much compassion. Be sure," she said, "to tell them about the compassion in your state."
During one of the sessions, Daly said, "People used to be able to work with less than a high school education and earn enough money for their family." Now, she said, "We have surplus people that the economy does not know how to deal with. What we do is let the fathers go off unattached from the family and the mothers receive inadequate Aid to Families with Dependent Children benefits. That's been our way of dealing with the question of compassion vs. responsibility."
Fears that welfare is an addiction that fosters dependency have affected the welfare debate, said Gregory Kepferle, assistant director of Catholic Charities of East Bay in Oakland, Calif. …