WASHINGTON (April 11, 1997) -- Based on recent news reports from North Korea that "millions of people are going to starve to death" in coming months without massive international assistance, Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark (NJ) is urging the Clinton Administration to take the lead in averting catastrophe.
As the Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference's International Policy Committee, Archbishop McCarrick Thursday sent a letter to National Security Advisor Samuel Berger urging the United States government to put humanitarian concerns above political disagreements with the North Korean government.
"It is the people of North Korea who are threatened by starvation," Archbishop McCarrick wrote. "Our longstanding and legitimate differences with the Government of North Korea cannot permit us to ignore the threat to the lives of our sisters and brothers in North Korea who are not responsible for that authoritarian government's policies, past or present."
A recent report from Caritas-Hong Kong, the Catholic agency coordinating private church assistance to North Korea, compared the current situation to that of war-devastated Germany in 1945. Caritas-Hong Kong is estimating that as much as two million tons of food will be needed this year.
Archbishop McCarrick urged a three-pronged policy for the United States government: an immediate and generous response to the need in North Korea; logistical assistance for delivery and distribution of food aid; and a willingness to increase the U.S. contribution if the estimates of the need are later revised upward.