WASHINGTON (November 2, 2001) -- Below is a statement from Cardinal Roger Mahony, urging government leaders to provide expanded programs to aid the unemployed in current uncertain times. Cardinal Mahony chairs the U.S. Bishops' Domestic Policy Committee and called for action in the face of new unemployment statistics following the tragic events of September 11. His statement follows.
November 2, 2001
The tragic events of September 11 dealt a serious blow to the people of the United States because of the horrific loss of life in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon. The unemployment numbers released today are a fresh reminder of the continuing impact on many people's lives. National unemployment claims have reached a level not seen in the last decade. While nearly every industry has lost jobs, the most vulnerable workers have been hit especially hard. Many were just beginning to get an economic foothold after leaving school or welfare, or recently arriving in our country.
As our nation focuses on increased security at home and abroad, we must not forget the economic insecurity of so many families, especially those with low income workers, minorities, and women heading households. Some will need immediate relief to pay rent, and purchase food, clothing and other necessities. Churches and charities will do their share but it will not be enough. Others will lose their employment-based health insurance, putting at risk their own health and that of their families. Obviously, new jobs are the best answer for the newly unemployed, but until the economy recovers, just and compassionate public policies and investments are required.
Today, I renew my call for the Administration and Congress to help cushion the blow for unemployed Americans by providing them with some measure of economic security in these uncertain times. Expansion of our unemployment insurance system, modifications to food and nutrition programs to meet increased need, and extension of health care benefits are essential first steps to respond to the crisis touching jobless workers and their families.
The events of September 11 have united our people. As our nation tries to move forward together, it would be wrong to leave behind workers who have lost jobs or health care coverage because of these terrible attacks. All of us must make sacrifices at times of national tragedy, but let us not ask too much of those who have so little.