Advocacy, Catholics Confront Global Poverty

PEPFAR Funding Extension Passes Senate Committee

Lately, it seems there’s more bad news to share than good when it comes to confronting global poverty. That’s why we’re delighted to share the exciting news that prior to the government shutdown, both the House and Senate introduced legislation to extend the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This bipartisan legislation continues our nation’s commitment to combating HIV/AIDS worldwide. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has already passed the bill.

PEPFAR has given hope to millions of people affected by this deadly disease. What’s even more exciting is that it’s one of the most successful foreign aid programs that the United States has ever undertaken. Mothers and fathers too weak and ill to work or care for their children experienced what’s been called the “Lazarus effect,” a return to life thanks to the care and treatment funded by PEPFAR.

The Catholic Church is a major provider of AIDS services worldwide.  As Pope Benedict XVI said in connection with World AIDS Day in 2012:  “I encourage the many projects in the context of the ecclesial mission that are being promoted to eliminate this scourge.”  Catholic Relief Services has supported 19 local partners working through 276 health facilities and delivered HIV care and treatment to more than 700,000 people, including nearly 400,000 who enrolled in lifesaving antiretroviral therapy.  CRS is proud to have successfully transferred these programs to local partners in nine countries. Watch this short video to learn more.

While the PEPFAR extension isn’t a done deal yet, we are reminded that our faith calls us to be a hopeful people. We expect to see legislation move in the coming weeks. Bishop Richard Pates, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Dr. Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services, recently wrote this joint letter to express their support for legislation in the Senate to continue our nation’s work to combat HIV/AIDS worldwide through PEPFAR. Your prayers are needed now to see this life-saving legislation through the halls of Congress.  As soon as the government returns from its shutdown, we’ll be sure to send out an Action Alert asking for your emails and phone calls. So please stay tuned to learn how your voice can save lives.

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