As the White House and Congressional leaders continue to debate about how to avert a national debt disaster, religious leaders in the US, including several thousand pastors and a number of Catholic social justice activists and theologians, have issued statements calling on them to do what is morally right. Here is the Catholics’ text, which was released a week ago:

As Catholic leaders and academics who believe government has a vital role in serving the common good, we are deeply concerned that President Obama and Republican leaders will strike a budget compromise that sacrifices the poor and most vulnerable on the altar of deficit reduction. Such a solution would be flawed public policy and a moral failure. We must address our nation’s fiscal crisis. The crisis is the result of unsustainable tax cuts, deficit funding of two wars, and the financial crisis. In this context it is gravely immoral to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class and poor by slashing Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other bedrock safety net programs that support pregnant mothers and infants.

Many of us supported President Obama’s efforts to pass health care reform legislation, applaud his consistent appeals for comprehensive immigration reform and commend his bold commitment to nuclear non-proliferation. All of these initiatives reflect core principles of Catholic social teaching in public life. But we are compelled speak out to ensure that political leaders do not forsake those who have no voice, especially when political pressure mounts. Faced with irresponsible and reckless calls from Republicans to dismantle our nation’s safety net, the President must now demonstrate the leadership and moral vision necessary to reject false choices. In years past, political leaders from both parties have reduced the deficit without hurting our must vulnerable neighbors and increasing poverty. We must do so again.

We join together with Christian clergy and Jewish leaders across the country who have endorsed the Circle of Protection. Standing up for those on the margins is rarely politically convenient, but President Obama and Republican leaders now have an historic opportunity to renew our nation’s faith in government that serves the common good.

Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Rev. T. Michael McNulty, SJ
Justice and Peace Director
Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM)

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Sr. Mary Waskowiak, RSM, President
Sr. Anne Curtis, RSM
Sr. Pat McDermott, RSM
Sr. Linda Werthman, RSM
Sr. Eileen Campbell, RSM

Stephen F. Schneck
Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

Rev. James E. Hug, S.J.
Center of Concern

Joseph A. McCartin
Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor
Georgetown University

Rev. John A. Coleman S.J.
Associate Pastor
St. Ignatius Church
San Francisco, CA

Alexander Mikulich, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University
New Orleans, LA

Rev. Thomas Massaro, S.J.
Professor of Moral Theology
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry

Sr. Mary Ellen Howard, RSM
Executive Director
St. Frances Cabrini Clinic
Most Holy Trinity Church
Detroit, MI

Nicholas P. Cafardi
Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law
Duquesne University

Rev. Joseph Nangle, OFM
Our Lady Queen of Peace
Arlington, VA

Kristin E. Heyer
Associate Professor
Religious Studies Department
Santa Clara University

Tobias Winright
Associate Professor of Theological Ethics
Saint Louis University

Dennis M. Doyle, Ph.D.
Professor of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

John Inglis
Professor of Philosophy
University of Dayton

Kelly S. Johnson
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Vincent J. Miller
Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Anthony B. Smith
Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Terrence W. Tilley
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. Professor of Catholic Theology
Chair, Theology Department
President, Society for Philosophy of Religion
Fordham University
Bronx, NY

Mark Potter, Ph.D.
Provincial Assistant, Social Ministries
California Province of the Society of Jesus\

Gary Macy
John Nobili, S.J. Professor of Theology
Religious Studies Department
Santa Clara University

Rev. Bruce T. Morrill, S.J.
Professor, Divinity School
Vanderbilt University

John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Maureen O’Connell
Associate Professor of Theology
Fordham University

Brian P. Flanagan
Assistant Professor of Theology
Marymount University
Arlington, VA

Christopher P. Vogt
Associate Professor of Theology & Religious Studies
St. John’s University
New York, NY

Rev. Drew Christiansen, S. J.
Editor in Chief

Nancy Dallavalle
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Religious Studies
Fairfield University

Christopher Pramuk
Assistant Professor of Theology
Xavier University, Cincinnati

Lisa Sowle Cahill
J. Donald Monan Professor of Theology
Boston College

Dr. Dolores Christie
Cleveland, Ohio