Humanitarian Aid Concerns in the 21st Century

Last week, two members of our CRS family addressed some of the key issues we’re facing in two significant venues.

On April 22, Michael Wiest, CRS’ executive vice president, Charitable Giving returned to his alma mater, Fordham University, to deliver a speech titled “Catholic Relief Services and Fordham University: Faith, Justice and Solidarity in the 21st Century.”

In his remarks, Michael spoke of the similar histories of Catholic Relief Services and the Jesuits in embracing justice and solidarity as a focus of our respective missions.
The address was the keynote of a day-long conference commemorating the 10-year collaboration between CRS and Fordham’s graduate program in International Political Economy and Development (IPED).

The conference included an afternoon of workshops preceding the keynote address. CRS staffers and IPED alumni participating included Matthew McGarry, country representative in Afghanistan, Tracy O’Heir, assistant country representative in southern Sudan, and Liz Pfifer, International Development Fellow in Madagascar. Conference attendees included the papal nuncio for the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan, CRS Board chairman and the newly installed archbishop of New York.

That evening Michael was honored as the first recipient of the Swanstrom-Baerwald Award, which recognizes members of the Fordham University community who have excelled in the service of faith through the promotion of international justice and solidarity.

A day later, Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ senior director of Advocacy, gave testimony on foreign aid reform before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health. Bill told the committee members of the “value that faith-based organizations bring to reducing poverty, alleviating human suffering, and providing hope to a new generation,” and he made several specific suggestions for reforming U.S. foreign assistance.

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