US must make world’s poor priority at UN Summit, bishops urge

.- The U.S. bishops have urged the Bush Administration to make the United Nations World Summit, which begins today in New York, an occasion "to adopt new initiatives that will enable poor countries, particularly in Africa, to break the cycle of poverty" and to work toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Leaders of more than 170 nations will meet at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 14-16.

In a letter last week to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Bishop John Ricard, chairman of the bishops’ International Policy Committee, said working against poverty must be a priority for the United States at this summit meeting.

"I urge the United States to give high priority to strengthening implementation of the global compact between rich and poor countries to achieve the human development and poverty eradication goals agreed to in the United Nations Millennium Declaration," Bishop Ricard wrote.

The Millennium Development Goals are outlined in the U.N. Millennium Declaration, which was adopted in September 2000. Leaders of more than 180 nations signed the declaration, which stated specific development goals to be achieved by 2015.

The goals include halving extreme poverty and hunger; assuring that all boys and girls complete primary education; halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases; and reducing sharply maternal and child mortality.

While the bishops commended President George Bush on his initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and offer some debt relief, they said much more needs to be done to help the poorest countries.

"An enormous task still lies ahead, and that task can be best accomplished by effective international cooperation in which the U.S. demonstrates clear leadership," wrote the bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

"We urge continued United States leadership in this effort primarily because of the moral obligation that we all share for the well-being of every human person, but also because replacing despair with hope in poor nations will lead to a more secure world for all of us," he said.

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