The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services presented their priorities for 2007 foreign assistance to the House Appropriations Committee in their testimony March 22.

“Investments in human development are not only matters of moral responsibility, but contribute to a safer and more just and peaceful world,” the told the committee, adding that severe poverty assaults the human dignity of millions in many nations.

“Our religious faith and our nation’s values tell us that the moral measure of our efforts is how we respond to the ‘least among us’…and whether we seek justice for all,” they stated.

Their suggested allocations included $5 billion for global development and humanitarian assistance, $150 million in employment assistance and poverty relief for the Palestinian people, and $3.7 billion for morally appropriate programs to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

They tackled debt relief, calling on the administration to put $950 million toward its commitment to cancel 100 percent of the debt owed by heavily indebted poor countries, and to increase the number of countries eligible for debt cancellation.

As migration is an ongoing phenomenon worldwide, the Catholic agencies estimated that nearly $1.3 billion should be slated for different types of migration and refugee assistance.

Finally, they said $ 3 billion would be needed to fulfill the requirements of the Millennium Challenge Account, the president’s initiative that promises to unite poverty reduction with better governance in poor countries;.