By Lisa Zengarini
The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England (CBCEW), Cardinal Vincent Nichols’, has expressed concern at plans to reduce Government expenditure on overseas aid from 0.7% of Gross national income to 0.5%, amounting to approximately £4 billion compared to the 2019 budget. The cut, which will have a significant impact on aid programmes for poor countries, was announced earlier this week by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and has been criticized, amongst others, by the Primate of the Church of England, Justin Welby.
Letter to all MPs
In a letter to all MPs, Cardinal Nichols called on all parties not to step back from the Country’s responsibilities to the world’s most vulnerable people in these trying times, recalling the promises they made on aid spending at the last General election. “The great tragedies of forced mass migration and human trafficking must be tackled at their source”, he said. “Carefully targeted and well managed overseas aid programmes are an essential part of this effort. In the face of these catastrophes, this is no time to reduce the UK’s contribution or effort”.
Quoting Pope Francis’ words in his recent Encyclical "Fratelli Tutti", the Archbihop of Westminster warned that “nowadays we are either all saved together or no one is saved” and that that if in some parts of our world “individuals or peoples are prevented from developing their potential by poverty or other structural limitations, in the end, this will impoverish us all”. (FT §137).
Cardinal particularly stressed the need for help to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in poorer countries which, he said, “will necessarily mean richer countries supporting poorer ones in purchasing vaccines for their people and helping to roll out mass vaccination programmes”. “Combatting COVID-19 is an international endeavour and we cannot neglect those countries that benefit from our aid”, he concluded.