A handful of bishops offered impassioned pleas for Catholics to take a stand against both a proposed federal budget that critics say guts the social safety net and efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act with a law that could strip health care from millions of poor Americans.

“Within two weeks we may see a federal budgetary action with potentially catastrophic effects on the lives of our people, most especially children and the elderly, the seriously ill, the immigrant and our nation’s working poor,” Bishop George Thomas of Helena, Mt., said on Thursday during an address at the spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego said bishops must do more “to recognize the breathtaking nature of the assault on the core principle of Catholic social teaching” present in the proposed Republican health care bill, adding that “health care is a fundamental human right and government is its ultimate guarantor.”

“The Affordable Care Act for all of its flaws was a movement in favor of comprehensive health care,” he added. “[The American Health Care Act] is a movement away.”

Bishop McElroy said the Republican-sponsored plan, which he said is being crafted “in stealth and darkness,” is designed in a way that “will deliberately fall apart in the coming years from market forces and ever smaller amounts of government revenue.”

Bishop McElroy said he supported his fellow bishops efforts to ensure that any new law prohibit the use of federal money for abortion, but he said an equally important consideration should be how many Americans lose coverage under any new law.

He said that “if the number of people who will be…realistically covered by quality health care by whatever emerges is diminished, then our conference should automatically oppose that legislation and categorically do so.”

Full story at America Magazine.