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Shutdown 'violates the social contract'

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Cardinal Seán P.
O'Malley

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley released the following statement Jan. 18:

Governing the democracy of the United States is always a challenging task. It requires not only intelligence, expertise and experience but also a capacity to collaborate, cooperate, and the willingness to consider appropriate compromise at decisive moments.

The present moment in our country is clearly decisive: the government is, at best, only partially functioning. This has caused multiple consequences: the safety of the citizenry is compromised and essential services are endangered or not being provided. While not proposing a plan for a viable effective compromise I am taken by the humanitarian impacts of the shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of government employees have had their lives upended. The vast majority of Americans depend on a regular paycheck, failure to receive that as due and expected translates into painful choices: balancing food and fuel; paying for mortgages and rent; restricting necessary transportation; rationing family health care. Imposing these burdens on individuals and families who serve the nation daily violates the social contract in a well-ordered society. It is an injustice and should be named as such.

Determination of the specific elements of a viable compromise rightfully rest with the executive and legislative officials of our government. But two moral imperatives should be preserved in any agreement: first, to end the suffering of our citizenry and second, to not use vulnerable and threatened immigrant families as a pawn in the necessary negotiations citizens rightfully expect of their government.

I am pleased that, as noted in The Pilot (last) week, the six food pantries of Catholic Charities of Boston will do all they can to serve those affected by the government shutdown.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, OFM Cap. Is Archbishop of Boston

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