the budgetary struggle crippling California is not merely political in nature or implications. Rather, it concerns profound moral questions about who are we as a society, how we view our future and whether as a people we can look beyond our own self-interest to the interest of the larger society. Much of the inability of our political leaders to forge workable solutions to the real budget dilemmas arises from the lack of a common moral frame of reference for evaluating the tradeoffs that lie before us.
For this reason we speak as the Catholic bishops of California on the budgetary crisis that confronts our state. We speak as pastors of those who operate California’s small and large businesses, who teach in our schools, who work in our fields, who staff our local governments, who are unemployed. We also speak as providers of education, social and health services who know firsthand the effects of cutbacks in programs that form the social safety net of our state. We speak as employers who meet payrolls in our parishes, schools and social service agencies, and who understand the problems of rising costs, particularly in the field of health care. Most of all we speak out of the two thousand year old tradition of ethical analysis and moral insight that is contained in Catholic social teaching. We hope that our tradition, in concert with those of other religious communities, can provide a frame of reference for a deeper and ethically-infused public dialogue about the budgetary problems that confront our state.