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Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Government minister praises Catholic aid agency
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¬†Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development, praised CAFOD this week, when she visited the agency to sign a new agreement which will provide them with more than £8million over the next four years. In one of her last engagements before the start of the election campaign, Ms Short signed the agreement and then spoke to staff about her hopes for the future and the key role that the churches can play in eradicating world poverty. A recent World Bank survey, she said, had shown that poor people in the South often hate their own politicians and governments while looking to their churches and mosques to voice their concerns. Ms Short said this placed a huge responsibility on faith groups and urged agencies like CAFOD to take supporters from charity towards demanding justice. Ms Short singled out a number of areas of CAFOD's work for special praise. Firstly, she commended the agency for working with the Department for International Development on the difficult issue of the Catholic church in Rwanda. Ms Short said that approaches to CAFOD's partners at a difficult time for the Catholic church in Rwanda had helped facilitate dialogue: "That is real partnership - sharing and talking at painful, difficult times". Describing Jubilee 2000 as the "biggest civil society campaign in the world", Ms Short praised CAFOD for working to ensure that the churches in the South are at the forefront of ensuring that debt relief is used for the benefit of the poor. She cited CAFOD's involvement in a Vatican conference on poverty reduction strategies, as an example of how the debt relief campaign can be taken into developing countries and owned by the poor. Ms Short said that the new four-year partnership was about unleashing the additional reach that church networks have throughout the world, to provide the poor and dispossessed with a stronger and more powerful voice. Welcoming Ms Short, the agency's director, Julian Filochowski, said she had transformed the profile and status of international development issues in the UK from a "Cinderella unit" to a powerful department at the heart of government. He said: "To have a Prime Minister, a Chancellor and even a Secretary of State for Trade and Industry all committed to reducing world poverty is a colossal achievement."
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