WASHINGTON (March 22, 2006)—In testimony to the House Appropriations Committee, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) declared that severe poverty assaults the human dignity of millions of people in many regions and nations.
"Our religious faith and our nation's values tell us that the moral measure of our efforts is how we respond to the 'least among us'…and whether we seek justice for all," they said. "Investments in human development are not only matters of moral responsibility, but contribute to a safer and more just and peaceful world." Shaped by these values, the Catholic agencies said their priorities for 2007 foreign assistance include:
- $5 billion to fund development and humanitarian accounts, on which many developing countries depend for survival and poverty reduction;
- $150 million in assistance to address the deepening poverty and unemployment among the Palestinian people;
- $ 3 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account, the President's initiative that promises to unite poverty reduction with better and stronger governance in poor countries;
- $1.2 billion for Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) and $55 million for Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA);
- at least $3.7 billion for morally appropriate programs to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria;
- Protecting those provisions of law, including the conscience clause, that help provide for a more effective, morally sound global health program;
- The $950 million that is necessary to fund the Administration's commitment to cancel 100% of the debt owed by heavily indebted poor countries to major international financial institutions; and
- Increasing the number of countries eligible for debt cancellation and the number of international institutions whose debt is canceled, particularly the Inter-American Development Bank.
USCCB and CRS presented written annual testimony to the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations to the Export Financing, and Related Programs of the House Appropriations Committee, the relevant appropriations subcommittees of the House and Senate that deal with foreign aid issues.
The full text of the testimony can be found on the Web at http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/487_Testimony_on_2007_Foreign_Operations_Final.pdf