The Catholic principle of apostolic succession means, among other things, that there is an unbroken line of apostles from the original twelve until today. It also means that Bishops (and this of course includes the Pope in his role as Bishop of Rome) have a particular authority to teach. This authority is exercised in pastoral letters (on the episcopal level) and encyclicals (a Pope's teaching to the entire church). In fairness to the subject, it is also used as an excuse to keep women from being ordained.
But those who call themselves "Catholic" ignore Church teaching at their own peril. So here's what the US Conference of Catholic Bishops had to say to Congress (all emphases mine).
Do not forget or neglect the needs of the poor and vulnerable in the United States and throughout the world in setting budget priorities, U.S. bishops urged Congress, noting that they have responsibility to meet the common good.Common good? You still talking about that? Didn't we get rid of that useless concept in the 1980s? No, say the Bishops. Decisions about spending have to be made on the basis of more than "economic policy."
“Meeting essential human needs is a compelling ethical and fiscal priority,” he said. “A moral measure of the budget will be how it treats poor and vulnerable people.”The Bishops questioned the morality of tax cuts that benefit the rich while putting an undue burden on the middle class and jeopardizing the well-being of the poor.
“When the basic requirements of human life and dignity for many in our country and throughout the world go unmet, it is essential that adequate federal revenues be available to help meet these basic human needs,” he said.Deficit spending on things like, well, war also limit the amount of money that can be spent on providing for the common good.
The budget should, he said, provide “adequate funding” for programs that help families “escape hunger and homelessness, find decent housing and employment and have access to quality education and medical care.”This is important not just at home; the common good extends beyond our shores.
He also pointed to strengthening the U.S. government commitment to foreign aid, including relief, developmental and health-care assistance throughout the developing world “where people live with crushing poverty and diseases” and forced to flee “violence and persecution.” “Your budget choices have clear moral and human dimensions,” he said. “They reflect our values as a people.”Amen.
“The weak and vulnerable,” he said, “do not have powerful lobbyists.”Alleluia.