“We are excited to see the policy and hope especially it facilitates even greater support and partnership between USAID, local Catholic partners, and other religious leaders critical to peace and justice around the world,” O’Keefe continued.
The framework of the program, O’Keefe said, is “solid.”
“Whether the policy achieves its goals depends on follow-up and leadership at USAID,” he said. “Engaging diverse religious leaders in the many contexts USAID finds itself will require [the agency to] bring to life the principles in the policy itself.”
Past controversies over potential conflicts with religion
USAID’s current administrator is Samantha Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who served in the Obama administration.
Religious groups had raised red flags regarding her nomination to the USAID post in 2021 over concerns that she would push a pro-abortion agenda in that role. Her nomination was praised by the pro-abortion Planned Parenthood Action Fund at the time.
Jesús Magaña, president of United for Life-Colombia, said upon her nomination that Biden was exemplifying an “agenda of death” by nominating Power to the role.
Ivone Mieles, director of Pro-Life Ecuador, likewise claimed that the nomination was “scary for Latin America” due to the “influence that organizations … like Planned Parenthood, will have” under Power’s administration.
Pro-life advocates last year similarly warned of the influence that pro-abortion ideologues were having on international aid, citing the federal President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief distributing funds to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which last year announced “a partnership with USAID” to address in part “family planning” and “reproductive health” in low- and middle-income countries.
USAID was founded in 1962 by then-President John F. Kennedy, who stressed the importance of charitable giving from “the wealthiest people in a world of largely poor people” as well as the U.S.’s “political obligations as the single-largest counter to the adversaries of freedom.”
Originally devoted largely to capital assistance, in its ensuing decades USAID shifted its work to focus on material aid such as food, health, and education.
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It also advocates for more infrastructural development such as improvements in agriculture and sanitation as well as technological development and “anti-corruption” efforts.