Archbishop of Boston
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
U.S. Catholic Conference
November 2, 2000
In recent days, Congress has taken action on two international issues that have been of particular concern to the U.S. Catholic Bishops:
Debt Relief for Poor Countries
The full funding provided for debt relief for poor countries is a great victory! It is a victory for the millions of the world's poor who have new hope for a fresh start during this Jubilee Year. By doing its share, the United States has made a big difference in ensuring that debt relief can begin to be used to reduce poverty now rather than later. This is also a victory for so many people of faith who have acted on the call of our Holy Father and our brothers and sisters in the developing world for help in removing the debt burden imposed on those least able to bear it. Finally, it is a victory for Members of Congress of both parties and the Clinton administration who responded to this broad-based campaign and made debt relief a priority in the final days of this Congress.
Despite severe restrictions imposed on the legislation affecting U.S. relations with Cuba, I welcome the fact that, for the first time in many years, the majority of the members of Congress have expressed their clear will that the outmoded Cuban embargo must, sooner rather than later, be abandoned. The severe restrictions imposed on the easing of trade sanctions make the new measure more symbolic than real, and the tightening of restrictions for citizen travel to Cuba is most unfortunate. Nevertheless, I believe the stage is now set for the next Congress to complete what was well begun by a number of far-sighted members this year. I look forward to the new Congress successfully acting to end a policy that hurts only the poor of Cuba, while providing unmerited propaganda for the regime.