March 23, 2006
Crs-Usccb Testimony On 2007 Foreign Assistance
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,
- 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
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
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
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
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.
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.