Release Date

March 23, 2006

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Crs-Usccb Testimony On 2007 Foreign Assistance

I. Introduction

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services

(CRS), the relief and development agency of the U.S. bishops, would like to take this

opportunity to offer written testimony on 2007 foreign assistance. As pastors and leaders of a

religious community, we bring deep convictions and broad experience in addressing issues of

human life and dignity in a world of too much injustice and not enough peace. Through our

global presence, we live and work among some of the most vulnerable people in the world. Our

people share the joys and hopes of those who suffer so much – very often in silence. In this

testimony, we give voice to these people in a spirit of gratitude for what has already been

achieved and with the hope that our nation’s tremendous capacity to reach out and help those in

need will inform the work of the subcommittee.

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” (Mt. 25) and whether we seek justice for all. 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, our priorities for 2007 foreign assistance


- $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 and 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.

II. Foreign Aid: A Moral Imperative

Solidarity with those in need expresses a common hope for a stable and peaceful world. Despite

the effectiveness of many U.S. foreign aid programs, much more needs to be done to respond to

this challenge. Before us is an opportunity to use our nation’s wealth and resources to uplift

human life and dignity around the globe and to work toward the common good.

In his first Lenten Reflection, Pope Benedict XVI echoed the words spoken by his predecessor

Pope Paul VI 25 years ago: the scandal of underdevelopment is a scandal against humanity.1

Achieving authentic human development requires ensuring that the basic human needs of all are

met; that social, cultural, economic and political rights are protected; and that all peoples

participate in shaping their own future.2 This moral demand is in line with our desire to build a

safe and secure world. As Pope John Paul II said: “Development ultimately becomes a question

of peace, because it helps to achieve what is good for others and for the human community as a

whole.”3 Development and peace are intertwined or, as Pope Paul VI said, “development is the

new name for peace.”4

Development is not just a requirement of human dignity. It therefore is a duty imposed upon all

of us, as peoples and nations, to collaborate in development, and the responsibility of those who

are stronger and richer to seek out, assist and empower those who are less so.5

This teaching shapes and defines the work of two agencies of the United States bishops:

Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS). MRS works to

voice the needs of those who flee persecution in their homeland and seek international protection

and helps resettle one-quarter of the refugees who enter the United States each year. CRS works

in over 99 countries throughout the world, more than 30 of which are in Africa, and provides

programs in HIV and AIDS and health, education and civil society building, microfinance, food

security and agriculture, and emergency relief and peace building. With 60 years of development

experience, CRS knows first hand the tremendous need, but also the great potential for

improvements in the lives and dignity of millions, and the very real hope and possibility for

prosperity and peace.6

Our well-being as Americans is intrinsically linked to the well-being of those who live far from

our shores, we can testify how foreign aid is capable of lifting up the weak and the downtrodden,

and empowering people to realize their own dignity and destiny. Not only does foreign aid

respond to critical emergencies and deep-seated problems of poverty, disease and malnutrition, it

provides a long-term commitment to accompany people on a path to economic, political and

social freedom. At the same time, this investment in human development is an investment in

security and peace, a connection that the Church has recognized for some time. In 1993, we

issued a pastoral statement in which we said: “Building peace, combating poverty and despair

and protecting freedom and human rights are not only moral imperatives, but also wise national

priorities. They can shape a world that will be a safer, more secure and more just home for us


III. Aid Effectiveness and Plans for Reform

Recent years have provided many examples that show the effectiveness of foreign aid in some of

the most destitute parts of our world. In many cases, foreign aid has played an indispensable, if at

times unnoticed, role in promoting freedom, security, development, and human life and dignity.

Core development assistance has played a critical role in helping people in some of the poorest

countries attain marked improvements in their lives with increases in primary school enrollment

rates, greater access to clean water, and a lower incidence of infectious diseases.

For example, in Malawi, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is using irrigation technology to

alleviate the effects of drought. One of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi recently

experienced its second food crisis in four years, brought on by a lack of rain in a region where

less than 2 percent of the land is irrigated. Even farmlands located directly next to rivers and

streams can be barren, largely because there is no technology for getting the water over the

riverbed into the fields. In the village of Chitsa, in the Nsanje district, CRS and its local Catholic

Church partner started a project that offers manually operated treadle pumps to lift the water

from a nearby river into the fields. The water has created a lush, green oasis in the midst of dusty

fields. The government and other aid groups are now distributing similar pumps, recognizing the

potential of such technology. There are many more examples.

USCCB has welcomed several important developments in aid funding since 2001 that contain

strategies to target foreign assistance better and engage with local populations to determine

priorities. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Millennium

Challenge Account (MCA) have signaled a clear commitment to go the extra mile in addressing

both immediate problems of a catastrophic nature and longer-term development needs. We

welcome the support that Congress has given these programs and continue to monitor their


In the last few months, the Administration has begun to lay out a new vision for U.S. foreign

assistance that may involve significant operational changes for foreign operations. While at an

early stage, these initiatives demonstrate both a new vision for U.S. foreign assistance and

institutional changes in its policy, planning and delivery. We welcome efforts that make U.S.

assistance more responsive to the needs of the poorest. Globalization offers new opportunities

and responsibilities to bring the world together in the fight against hunger, disease and extreme

poverty. In this process of reform, it is vital that more resources reach those who have the

greatest need and the least hope.

We are concerned that by placing so much emphasis on threats to security that “emerge more

within states than between them” and “shifting existing resources to meet our new priorities,” as

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said, it is possible that needy people could fail to

receive adequate U.S. assistance.8 There are many states whose people experience severe

hardship, but whose situation may be of little strategic interest to the security of the United

States. We ask that you ensure that any changes to U.S. foreign assistance programs maintain a

focus on the most needy.

Foreign aid is not a panacea. It needs to be combined with genuine debt relief and fair and open

trade policies in an integrated approach so that our solidarity with the poor will lead to authentic

human development. It makes little sense, for example, to provide foreign aid to support a

country’s economic freedom while simultaneously maintaining trade barriers that exclude that

country’s goods. Similarly, foreign aid has little effect when a poor country spends much of its

income on repaying debts to rich nations. Rather than giving with one hand and taking with the

other, it makes more sense to develop a comprehensive development strategy that encompasses

three mutually reinforcing strategies: generous and effective foreign aid, fair trade, and debt

relief for poor countries. To promote just such a vision, USCCB and CRS have launched the

“Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty: Trade, Aid, Debt.”

FY 2007 will offer many opportunities for the United States to demonstrate its leadership in

assisting the world’s poor. To do this, real financial investments must be made. In July of 2005,

the Group of 8 (G-8) leaders focused on executing a comprehensive development strategy that

includes international trade, debt relief, and foreign assistance. The United States has taken a

leadership role in its commitments towards the people of Africa in the areas of health and

humanitarian and development assistance. Some of the poorest, most vulnerable people in Africa

reside in countries affected by civil conflict. The U.S. commitment must include the necessary

resources for peace-building and reconstruction in these countries.

IV. Specific Foreign Assistance Needs

Below we offer a more detailed explanation of the key elements of our foreign operations

funding requests.

Development and Humanitarian Assistance: We urge Congress to increase funding for core

development and humanitarian programs from the $4.2 billion proposed by the administration to

$5 billion, with particular attention to the needs of Africa and Latin America. The

administration’s FY07 request would also cut Child Survival and Health programs that we

support as well as other core accounts by a total of close to $100 million. Rather than reducing

funds for such programs, they should be substantially increased.

Core development and humanitarian accounts form the bedrock of U.S. foreign assistance,

providing for health, education, agriculture, and emergency relief programs in some of the

world’s poorest countries. While the global need for investment in poverty reduction remains

great, the administration’s FY 2007 budget proposal would reduce funding for Development

Assistance and other core development accounts by almost $225 million, including a $100

million cut for basic education. Poor countries, which are unlikely to qualify for MCA funds, but

which can nevertheless use development aid effectively, rely on this assistance to help address

the food, health, education and other development needs of their people.

Africa is the furthest behind in meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and needs

greater U.S. assistance to get back on track. U.S. aid to the countries of Latin America, our

neighbors and strategic allies, has been in decline. Recent economic growth in the region belies

the fact that benefits are not reaching the poor. The effects of exclusion are dramatic: a 2004

UNDP report indicates that 54.7 percent of Latin Americans would support an authoritarian

regime over democratic government if authoritarian rule would resolve their economic

problems.9 To meet our stated commitments and moral obligations, our nation must increase aid

to both Africa and Latin America.

Global Health: USCCB and CRS ask that you support the Administration’s request for $4.3

billion in funding for FY 2007 ($3.7 billion in the Foreign Operations bill and $600 million in

Labor, Health and Human Services bill) for morally responsible programs for combating

HIV and AIDS and other infectious diseases. This increase takes into account the need to develop a

well-coordinated, sustainable, and effective HIV and AIDS strategy. At the same time, it reflects the

scale of the pandemic, the urgency of the action required, and the need to strengthen national

health infrastructure, while providing increased support to effective programs managed by faithbased

and other private voluntary organizations. We urge that this increase represent an

additional allocation, rather than a reduction in the funding committed to PEPFAR.

Communicable diseases such as HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis continue to ravage

populations of the world’s poorest countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. New threats to

large populations in India, China and the former Soviet Republics pose additional threats to

global security and economic stability. Catholic institutions provide a full 25% of care for people

living with HIV and AIDS around the world. Faith-based groups provide 40% to 50% of all care. In

Kenya, CRS programs cover 50% of all patients receiving Anti-Retroviral Treatment, while

receiving only 10% of PEPFAR ART funding in the country.

Millennium Challenge Account (MCA): Though the amount requested is substantially less

than the President’s original commitment of $5 billion for the MCA, we support the President’s

request for $3 billion for the MCA in FY 2007 including up to 10 percent of this amount for

“threshold” countries. The MCA got off to a slow start, but we note that the pace of activities has

picked up in recent months.

The law establishing the MCA authorized funding for lower middle-income countries beginning

in FY06. These countries have achieved substantially higher income levels and have greater

access to other sources of financing than the low income group on average. At the same time,

there are 13 low income countries that are eligible for the MCA but have yet to receive funding.

In the allocation of MCA funds, we urge that efforts be focused on the needs in the poorest

countries, especially in Africa, and that within each compact program, projects be designed to

impact the poorest of the poor. We also urge that funding for the MCA will be in addition to, not

a substitute for, funding for critical humanitarian and development programs.

The USCCB and CRS have strongly and consistently supported the Millennium Challenge

Corporation (MCC) from its inception. We are deeply concerned about the overall lack of

compact funds for health and education. We recognize that “country ownership” is important,

but with the MCC’s stated objective of poverty reduction, and the low level of development that

often characterizes the education and health sectors in the countries eligible for the MCC, it is

unclear to us why MCC countries are not including components for these sectors in their

compact proposals. Primary education and decent health care are fundamental to the ability of

the poor to take advantage of the kind of investments that the MCC is financing.

We urge you to encourage the MCC to include education and health care in compacts when the

recipient nation’s citizenry has determined, through a strong consultative process, that weakness

in these areas are obstacles to poverty reduction. Development is about creating opportunities for

all people, particularly the disadvantaged, to achieve their full human potential.

Palestinian Aid: USCCB and CRS strongly support the Administration’s request for $150

million in Palestinian aid and also urge Congress to give the Administration needed flexibility in

delivering this aid to the Palestinian people.10 It is not in the best interests of either Israelis or

Palestinians for the human situation in Palestinian areas to deteriorate badly. Non-governmental

organizations (NGOs) play an important role in delivering Palestinian aid. Catholic Relief

Services and other NGOs are deeply concerned that their assistance programs will be curtailed or

rendered unworkable by Congressional action or seen as an instrument of a particular policy

rather than as assistance.

The issue of aid to Palestinians has special urgency at this time. We are deeply concerned with

legislative proposals that may cripple the ability of the U.S. to engage both parties to the conflict

and exacerbate an already desperate humanitarian situation.

USCCB has stated that the election of Hamas complicates and threatens the peace process.

Palestinian leaders must clearly recognize Israel and renounce terrorism. All parties to the

conflict must renounce using violence to achieve political goals. Both parties must commit

themselves to a viable two state solution. Neither side should take actions that contradict their

obligations under the “road map.”

U.S. engagement with both parties is critical, especially at this volatile time. Despite the new

challenges, the United States must find appropriate ways to engage both Israelis and Palestinians.

USCCB and CRS were encouraged by Secretary of State Rice’s recent reaffirmation of the

commitment of the United States to a viable two-state solution, and her declaration that the

Administration is looking at ways to increase U.S. assistance for the Palestinian people.11

It will take some time for new Palestinian government to be formed and to clarify their policies.

It is neither wise nor just to withhold aid to the Palestinian people at this time. This could be

perceived as punishment for engaging in the democratic process that the United States has long

urged. Poverty and unemployment are deepening and a significant loss of assistance can only

add to their desperate plight and possibly to further unrest. We urge the United States to find

appropriate and effective means to deliver aid to the Palestinian people.

Reconstruction and Peace-building: We once again urge adequate funding for reconstruction

and peace-building needs, especially in Haiti and Sudan. We urge that human rights conditioning

on all aid to Colombia be strengthened and that development and humanitarian aid be increased.

We also ask that priority attention be given to basic humanitarian and security needs,

disarmament, and reintegration of soldiers into civil society in Liberia, and to the long-term

peace-building needs in Burundi and the DRC.

Recent events in Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, Sudan, Liberia, Burundi, the Democratic

Republic of the Congo (DRC), Israel-Palestine, and in countries in other parts of the world,

demonstrate the need for effective, appropriate and flexible strategies for conflict resolution and

peace building. In these situations, foreign aid not only helps lift people out of poverty, but also

plays an important strategic role as a catalyst for the promotion of peace and security.

Iraq: The situation in Iraq remains uncertain and dangerous, but the U.S. cannot abandon the

responsibility it now has for the welfare of the Iraqi people. USCCB repeatedly raised grave

moral concerns regarding military action against Iraq and the unpredictable negative

consequences of an invasion and occupation. Our country has now assumed a new set of moral

obligations as a result of the intervention. The U.S. must help Iraqis secure and rebuild their


In January of this year USCCB issued a statement entitled, “Toward a Responsible Transition in

Iraq.”12 While the current violence represents a major continuing obstacle, USCCB has offered a

series of benchmarks for a responsible transition. These include: achieving adequate levels of

security; establishing the rule of law; promoting economic reconstruction to help create

reasonable levels of employment and economic opportunity; and supporting the development of

political structures to advance stability, political participation, and respect for religious freedom

and basic human rights. Without genuine reconstruction, a just peace will not take hold in Iraq.

Analysts have estimated that the reconstruction of Iraq will demand between $18 billion and $28

billion in additional resources.13 USCCB and CRS welcome the inclusion of funding for genuine

rebuilding the economic and social infrastructure of Iraq in this year’s foreign operations budget.

The reconstruction of Iraq will require a multi-year commitment.

Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA): We ask that the subcommittee appropriate $1.2

billion for the State Department’s Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account. Of this

amount, we ask the subcommittee to allocate $333 million to fund the admission of at least

90,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2007. This number reflects the great need for greater refugee

resettlement protection throughout the world and is consistent with the target established by the

Administration in the President’s 2001 Report to Congress on the U.S. refugee program. We also

ask that the subcommittee allocate $780 million for overseas refugee assistance to address both

new and long-standing refugee situations, to help fund repatriation efforts, and to address severe

funding shortfalls that have developed as a result of a reduction in funding in previous fiscal


Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA): We ask that the subcommittee

appropriate $55 million for the Department of State’s ERMA account. The ERMA is a no-year

account that funds efforts to address emerging refugee crises throughout the world. The State

Department’s Refugee Bureau anticipates utilizing all of its ERMA balance for FY06, leaving it

with no funding for FY 2007. Without a sufficient ERMA replenishment, the State Department

will not be able to respond to refugee crises in the Near East, South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, or

other areas.

International Development Association and Debt Relief: USCCB and CRS also support at a

minimum, the President’s request for $100 million to provide debt relief through the Heavily

Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative in FY 2007. We urge you to fully fund the commitment

of the United States to the 14th replenishment of the International Development Account at $950

million. IDA is a key source of funding for poor country development. At a time when other

major donor countries are making substantial increases in their contributions to IDA, the United

States needs to provide sufficient resources to maintain a leadership role in the future of this


Full funding of IDA is essential to enable the United States to fulfill its commitment to the

financing of the multilateral debt cancellation agreement. The agreement is expected to provide

major new debt cancellation this year for at least 17 low income countries and eventually for

possibly 20 to 25 additional very poor countries. We also support the President’s request for

$182 million for poor country debt reduction under the on-going Heavily Indebted Poor

Countries Initiative and for Tropical Forest Conservation Act programs. The Catholic

Community has been very engaged in the question of debt relief since the call of Pope John Paul

II in 1994 to reduce substantially, if not cancel outright, the debt that threatens the future of

many nations.

Mexico City Policy: Finally, we reiterate our strong and continuing support for retaining the

Mexico City policy, which prevents our foreign aid program from being misused to subsidize

organizations that perform or promote abortions in developing nations. The Kemp-Kasten

provision preventing the support of organizations involved in coercive population control

programs should also be retained. Under this provision, funding is denied to any organization

determined by the President to be supporting or participating in the management of a program of

coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. To ensure that the President is free to make this

determination the subcommittee should not earmark funds to the United Nations Population

Fund (UNFPA), whose support for the coercive program in the People’s Republic of China has

rendered it ineligible for U.S. funds in recent years.

V. Conclusion

In his first Encyclical, entitled “God Is Love,” Pope Benedict XVI offers an eloquent reflection

on the role of charity as the authentic expression of love of God and neighbor.14 Charity does not

seek its own gain. Rather it requires sacrifice and self-giving in a genuine desire for solidarity

with the other, especially the poor and abandoned. Our nation’s common efforts, which are

concretely expressed through U.S. development assistance to the poorest people on earth, should

reflect this vision as we seek to make our assistance more responsive and effective. In this way,

the moral obligation to love one’s neighbor in a rapidly shrinking world, an obligation that is

embedded deeply within Catholic faith and fabric of our nation, will be honored and advanced.

1 Message of Pope Benedict XVI for Lent 2006.

2 Pope Paul VI, Development of Peoples, (1967), 20-21; Pope John Paul II, On Social Concern (1987), 33.

3 Pope John Paul II, Development and Peace, January 1, 1987.

4 Pope Paul VI, ibid., 76, 87.

5 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. no. 446.

6 Ibid., 38-39; Development of Peoples, 48.

7 USCCB, The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, November 17, 1993.

8 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Remarks at Georgetown School of Foreign Service, January 18, 2006.

9 “Democracy in Latin America: Towards a Citizens’ Democracy.” United Nations Development Program, 21 April


10 Bishop Thomas Wenski, Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Policy, Letter to Chairman Henry Hyde

on Palestinian Aid, March 1, 2006

11 Secretary Condoleezza Rice, Briefing en Route Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 12, 2006.

12 Bishop Thomas G. Wenski, Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Policy, Toward a Responsible

Transition in Iraq, January 12, 2006

13 Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Iraq Reconstruction: Without Additional Funding, Progress

Likely to Fall Short, Undermining War Effort, February 27, 2006.

14 Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est: Encyclical Letter on Christian Love, December 25, 2005.