Happy New Year! We welcome 2014 and all of the hope and promise for peace it holds for our brothers and sisters throughout the world. What better way to kick off the New Year than with Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace message? In his message, Pope Francis urges us to open our hearts in a new way to our brothers and sisters affected by poverty, hunger, conflicts, migration, inequalities, pollution, underdevelopment, and injustice. When we break free from indifference and see ourselves as members of one human family, we can truly “encounter” one another and build peace.
As we shared with you before the holidays, Congress completed a budget deal for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. With the budget out of the way, Congress returned to work earlier this week to finalize FY14 spending. We have heard good news about refugee funding in response to your actions regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria. While the legislation isn’t final yet, we promise to keep you posted as more details emerge on how some of the spending bills will impact our brothers and sisters who are poor and facing terrible violence in such places as Syria, Central African Republic, and South Sudan.
In addition, Congress still has to pass the Farm Bill. We’ve heard that the conference committee members have been working hard to reach a compromise, and many expect Congress to take up a final bill in the next few weeks. The Catholic Church has worked hard to make sure the legislation does not hurt people who are hungry here at home and abroad, helps family farmers and rural communities, and promotes care of creation. Your efforts over the past year have made an impact and we hope to have good news to report on the Farm Bill very soon.
Already, we’re off to a busy 2014 confronting global poverty. Thank you for your ongoing commitment.
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