WASHINGTON (December 14, 2006)—Leaders of several U.S. Christian denominations today commended members of Congress for passing landmark legislation to bring economic opportunity to Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries.
Congress passed the Haiti Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act on December 9, in the final hours of the 109th Congress. The HOPE Act grants preferential access to Haitian exports for entry into the U.S. market. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church joined together to support the legislation.
"Congress has brought a light of hope to the long-suffering people of Haiti with bipartisan legislation," said Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando (FL), Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) International Policy Committee. "This action reflects the desire of the American people to be a good neighbor to a deeply impoverished country so close to our own border. We continue to urge our political leaders to recognize that as the richest nation in the world we have a moral responsibility to help our most vulnerable brothers and sisters around the globe."
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Shori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, pointed to the grassroots advocacy that helped galvanize support for the legislation. "Thousands of Christians contacted their lawmakers in support of the HOPE Act over the past week because they knew that this legislation is good not only for the people of Haiti, but also for Americans," she said.
"As religious leaders, we will continue to stand in solidarity with Haitians as they work to increase the stability of their nation and lift their people out of poverty," said Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.