To the Editor:

The story accompanying the selection of Pope Francis has been an inspiring refresher course on the Church's mission to aid the poor and destitute of the world.

In a demonstration of austerity and humbleness, the now Pope sold the cardinal's residence in Argentina in favor of a frugal apartment, where he cooked his own meals; rode the bus to work; and renewed the Church's call to care for the poor and infirm.

The call to abandon personal selfishness to aid others as an example of Christ's love and leadership, is one of the central tenets of the Church's teachings.

Yet, these same principles are derided in political discourse.

Democrats have become associated with a godless, secular view of the world. During the most recent election campaign between President Obama and Mitt Romney, the "Christian Right" denounced Obama from alters and pulpits, endorsing his Republican opponent as the candidate in keeping with Christian principles.

Yet, if one of those principles is the care and consideration for the most vulnerable in society, the Republican proposals on the sequester and budget demonstrate their triumph in gutting those government programs that provide basic services for some of the most vulnerable citizens; meals on wheels for the elderly; food stamp programs that benefit 750,000 at risk children and moms; heating assistance to provide winter fuel oil; reductions in services for Medicaid and Medicare recipients.

For all the talk of the secular nature of our government, the fact is the social safety net is the embodiment of another Church tenet, Christian charity.

We may not personally contribute to charity as much as we can, or even at all, but there should be some comfort when called before St. Peter that we supported "alms for the poor" through our taxes that paid to help them.

Given the relative wealth of our country and extraordinary means, will the ultimate judge credit our arguments for a balanced budget? Or, when uttered on the cusp of eternity, will such concerns seem petty?

It's ironic the party accused of trying to keep God out of the classroom, government, basically any public institution, is the party most committed to actually following the Christian teachings to care for those who cannot care for themselves.

And while Republicans eradicate these social programs, they demand the military and weapons budgets be restored and increased, reinforcing a culture of violence and war.

Our government is only as good as the people we elect to it. It should be responsible, both fiscally and morally.

To say it can only be one or the other demonstrates the kind cynicism that truly is one of the greatest threats to our continued prosperity.

As we work through the current crisis and those in the future, we should take a moment to reflect on this new pope, and what it really means to be one nation, under God.

David Gronbach

New Milford