WASHINGTON--Calling an overemphasis on military "counterproductive," the bishops who chair the domestic and international peace and justice committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged Secretary of State John Kerry to examine the funds and priorities of the coordinated efforts of the U.S. and Mexican governments against narcotics trafficking, also known as the Mérida Initiative.
"It is the conviction of the Church in the region and our Committees that expenditures should be concentrated on efforts that aim to protect human rights, strengthen civil society and expand the levels of humanitarian and development assistance," wrote Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, in a January 6 letter.
Archbishop Wenski and Bishop Pates chair the USCCB Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, respectively.
The bishops specifically called for efforts to strengthen the Mexican judicial system, greater economic and educational opportunities in Mexico "to create viable alternatives to criminal careers," agricultural development, greater programs that target youth unemployment in Mexico and treatment facilities for those already addicted to drugs.
"While there is a role for security assistance, we also urge that an increased proportion of budgetary expenditures attributable to U.S. international aid be allocated to support the fostering of human rights, a just and humane civil society, and broad-based economic development," the bishops wrote.
Full text of the letter online