On Saturday, December 28th, long-term unemployment benefits expired for 1.3 million Americans. This is an unacceptable situation that was made possible by the deficit reduction bill constructed by two Catholics, Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray. It is especially distressing that these cuts were enacted during the Christmas season.

The Catholic Church in the United States has made it clear: the budget should never be balanced on the backs of the poor. And during his papacy, Pope Francis has said again and again that government exists to serve the poor and those who are struggling.

Keeping this in mind, we ask the United States Congress to immediately support an extension of the unemployment benefits. During this Christmas season, this action will restore faith in our government to serve the most vulnerable in our midst.

We make Pope Francis's words our own: "I beg the Lord gives us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people and the lives of the poor!"

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