The federal budget crunch should not be eased by cutting programs that help the poor, refugees and the unemployed in the United States or those struggling in developing nations, warned church leaders. “In a time of economic crisis, the poor and vulnerable are in greater need of assistance, not less,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a letter to Congress on Feb. 14. A second letter from Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, noted cuts of up to 26 percent of funding in programs for international assistance this year, but only 2.6 percent in cuts for the overall budget. “Shared sacrifice is one thing,” said Hackett and Bishop Hubbard; “it is another to make disproportionate cuts in programs that serve the most vulnerable.” The Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, urged policymakers to improve government efficiency before resorting to cuts.