In response to the United States' proposed revisions to UN poverty-reduction strategies - as reported in today's New York Times and Washington Post - the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, issued the following statement:
"I am deeply troubled by reports today that the United States has proposed revisions to UN global-poverty-reduction strategies that would undermine international commitments and partnerships already at work in the developing world. The Administration's sudden opposition to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the international target for rich nations to contribute 0.7% of GNP toward poverty reduction places an unwelcome obstacle in the path toward a more stable and secure world.
The world religious community -- which has been engaged in the work of international development for decades -- knows firsthand the vital importance of partnership between governments and institutions in the developed world and their counterparts in poor countries. Such partnership is embodied in the MDGs, and without it, the world is destined to fight a losing battle against the extreme poverty and deadly disease that are destabilizing our planet.
It had been my hope that next month's summit of world leaders at the UN would not only recommit to this sort of partnership by reaffirming the MDGs, but also take additional steps to work toward their fulfillment. I am deeply mindful of the need to use government resources to combat terrorism, but one of the most stinging lessons of our time is that the roots of terrorism and conflict most often can be found in those places where poverty and sickness abound and hope is lost.
Out of our deep commitment to the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us by God in Christ, the Episcopal Church has endorsed the ethic of 0.7% giving to fighting global poverty, and a great number of our dioceses have already taken this step, as have many of the world's nations. For the U.S. to now oppose that long-held target further undermines our nation's international credibility, weakens rather than strengthens global security, and does violence to all of our efforts to respond to God's passionate desire for reconciliation and the well-being of all people."