U.S. Bishops Urge More Foreign Aid to Help Ensure Peace

Sustainable Human Development a Goal

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WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Sustainable human development should be the objective of a greatly increased U.S. foreign aid program, according to congressional testimony submitted on behalf of the U.S. bishops’ conference and Catholic Relief Services.

In addition to the written testimony, Father William Headley, Catholic Relief Services’ deputy executive director for policy and strategic issues, also delivered remarks Wednesday before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs.

«A principal objective of U.S. foreign policy,» the written testimony stated, «should be sustainable human development, grounded in respect for human dignity, structured by a commitment to human rights, and carried out by our nation as a sign of leadership in the international community — with specific priority given to the basic needs of the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of the human community.»

The bishops noted that the growing gap between rich and poor threatens global peace and security. Substantial increases in U.S. foreign aid dedicated to poverty reduction are necessary to achieve sustainable human development and the peace and security which follow.

«After Sept. 11, we have learned that hate and hopelessness can threaten us, no matter how powerful our military, economic or political influence,» they said.

Both the written testimony and Father Headley’s presentation outlined a number of specific priorities for the bishops, including:

— funding of at least $1.3 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account, a year-old program dedicated to poverty reduction and sustainable human development;

— increases of at least $1 billion above current levels for development assistance to poor countries in Africa that do not qualify for the MCA, but have critical development needs;

— increases in global health funding — bringing total funding to at least $3 billion in fiscal year 2004 — for morally and culturally responsible programs combating HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening infectious diseases, with particular attention to Africa;

— substantial funding for humanitarian needs, reconstruction and peace-building efforts in Iraq.

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