WESTMINSTER, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - England's top cardinal is attacking the U.K. government's slash in its foreign aid budget, a sizeable chunk of which goes towards funding abortion, LGBT+ issues, Islamic regimes who persecute Christians and profligate projects in poorer nations.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, slammed in a letter Friday "plans to reduce U.K. spending on overseas aid from 0.7% of gross national income to 0.5%," labeling it as "a retrograde step."
"Promises were made by all parties on aid spending at the last election," Nichols stressed, arguing that in the context of the Wuhan virus pandemic the money would help "roll out mass vaccination programs."
"The great tragedies of forced mass migration and human trafficking must be tackled at their source," wrote Nichols, going on to cite Pope Francis' recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti.
The cardinal-archbishop of Westminster said reducing aid would amount to "a cut of around £4 billion in spending on help to the world's poorest people."
Anthropologist Karen Harradine, who has been writing on foreign aid for several years, told Church Militant that "Cdl. Nichols needs to educate himself on what really goes on with foreign aid."
"Billions of foreign aid money finds its way to dictators and despots who shirk their responsibility of taking care of their citizens because gullible Westerners attempt to do this for them. How can any Christian leader sanction this?" Harradine asked.
The columnist pointed out the "breathtaking stupidity of the Department for International Development (DFID) (which is now part of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) in allocating £190 million to Somalia in 2019/20."
"Almost a quarter of that goes to the Somali government, which practices brutal and misogynistic Sharia law, persecutes Christians and targets journalists," she noted.
The researcher pointed out that "Somalia is number three on Open Doors' World Watch List of the 50 countries where persecution of Christians is most rife," asking: "Why are millions of British taxpayers' pounds being used to prop an Islamist regime which persecutes Christians?"
Harradine also described how "DFID gave the Palestinian Authority over £430 million over the past eight years, which the PA used as an incentive for terrorists to murder innocent Israelis in a diabolic scheme known as 'pay for slay.'"
Nichols' appeal follows a plea by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby warning Prime Minister Boris Johnson against cutting foreign aid.
"In his teaching, Jesus Christ tells us we mustn't limit our concept of neighbor simply to those close by to us," Welby said.
Pro-life campaigners note that Britain gave abortion giant Marie Stopes International (MSI) over £163 million in five years to spend on abortions in developing countries and to help liberalize abortion laws.
"No other country gives as much money to MSI than our own Department for International Development (DFID)," writes pro-life researcher Philippa Taylor.
Last year, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt announced plans to spend £42 million of aid to fund overseas abortion led by MSI and Planned Parenthood.
John Deighan, deputy CEO of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), blasted "the irony of Penny Mordaunt's euphemisms about helping women," noting that the money "will be used to fund the ongoing cultural imperialism of developing countries" and force abortion into cultures that do not want it.
In 2017, DFID launched proposals to address LGBTI+ inclusion in international development, which included providing direct support and funding to LGBTI+ activist organizations.
Critics also identified staggering wastage on aid invested in gated communities, shopping centers and luxury property in poor countries, including $25 million to help build Garden City, a luxury development in Nairobi, Kenya and $24 million spent on a 70-hectare "aspirational ocean lifestyle village," with luxury beachfront homes from $500,000.
Britain spent over £100 million of its foreign aid budget on shopping malls and retail chains in Third World countries, funding Chinese bra maker City Beauty's 2,500 stores to the tune of £23 million and footing a £5.2 million bill for "Ethiopia's Spice Girls" — pop group Yegna.
A 2020 World Bank group policy research paper titled "Elite Capture of Foreign Aid: Evidence from Offshore Bank Accounts" concluded that aid to the 22 most aid-dependent countries coincided with "significant increases in deposits held in offshore financial centers known for bank secrecy and private wealth management."
"If foreign aid worked, we'd be seeing major positive results by now. That we haven't should surely ring alarm bells," Harradine remarked.
"Noble aims are meaningless when armed forces veterans in the U.K. are sleeping on the streets, pensioners have to choose between heating and eating and the country is facing a dire economic crisis. Charity needs to begin at home," she added.
In a 2018 poll, over 80% of Britons said they wanted foreign aid spent on the state-funded National Health Service (NHS).
Nichols and Welby have yet to criticize the misuse of Britain's foreign aid.