In the wake of Congress and the White House failing to prevent across-the-board cuts to government-funded programs, also known as ‘sequestration,’ most of us are going on and living our daily lives without feeling their impact. However, millions of our brothers and sisters here in the United States and overseas will eventually begin to feel the squeeze of these cuts.
Catholic Relief Services staff and overseas partners working in some 100 countries have shared a first-hand look at what people are experiencing in some of the poorest countries on earth:
- A vital food program in Burkina Faso funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that helps farmers grow enough food to feed their families and improve their harvests could be lost completely sometime next year.
- A number of Food for Peace funded programs could be delayed or canceled, which could deprive millions of people who don’t have enough to eat of the help they need to survive.
- Our local faith-based health partners that provide life-saving HIV care and treatment in many countries in Africa thanks to grants from the Centers for Disease Control could lose funding, forcing them to choose between those people who will receive care and those who will not.
Despite these concerns and by the grace of God, we remain hopeful. CRS staff has been told that most programs should remain intact until the end of this fiscal year, September 30. But the next hurdle is around the corner because Congress must soon approve legislation to fund U.S. government operations beyond that point. There will be significant pressure to cut deeper into programs that we know save lives and must be preserved.
As this financial mess continues in Washington, D.C. we are reminded of the words of the late Pope John Paul II in his Address on Christian Unity:
“The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes.”
Also, please continue to keep our brothers and sisters in Kenya in your prayers as they conclude their recent national elections.
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