CRS head discusses aid with McConnell

Sean Callahan

Sean Callahan, Catholic Relief Service (CRS) CEO. spoke at the CRS Rice Bowl Lenten fundraiser Feb. 23

By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor
Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) president and CEO met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Feb. 22 to discuss foreign aid funding and describe how CRS can help with the world’s refugee crisis.

“We wanted him to know that the Catholic Church is providing aid overseas so people don’t have to migrate,” said Sean Callahan, who took the helm of the U.S. bishops’ international aid agency in January.

Callahan said he, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and Mark Bouchard of Catholic Charities of Louisville, began the meeting by thanking the senator for his support of humanitarian assistance and foreign aid.

CRS provides emergency relief after natural disasters, helps develop economic opportunities for people in struggling communities and provides access to education and health care.

While some of CRS’ funding comes from private donations and the CRS Rice Bowl fundraiser, it also receives federal grants.

Callahan noted that less than one percent of the U.S. federal budget is spent on foreign aid. But that funding is important to CRS’ work.
And he believes CRS’ work is beneficial both to the U.S. and those receiving aid.

First, he noted, CRS’ outreach in 117 countries around the world is an investment in peacemaking and promotes goodwill toward the United States.
In addition, he said, CRS aims to help people where they are, which can help prevent migration.

“We try to allow people not to have to migrate by providing economic opportunities in the communities in which they live,” he said. “CRS’ work is directly related to refugees.”

In Central America, for instance, CRS has a youth program that provides job skills and other economic opportunities.

CRS staff also aids Syrian refugees in camps around the Middle East, including in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. It’s also active in Iraq, Ethiopia, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and parts of West Africa.

In Niger, CRS’s malaria program has distributed 18 million nets treated with an insect repellent. “We’ve saved six million lives there,” Callahan said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *