Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice praises cancellation of $40B debt  

In a very good move, which was lauded by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the G8 nations have agreed to cancel about $40 billion in debt owed by 18 of the poorest nations (Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia). In addition, there are plans to include 20 other nations in some type of debt cancellation.

In its statement regarding the debt cancellation, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace called for the money to be used for development:
"However, the pontifical council also calls for the money that will now be freed to be used to bring about real and sustainable development opportunities to the people of those countries. This can be accomplished through providing necessary public goods such as clean water, safe sanitation, basic health care and educational opportunities.

"The decision to forgive the debts of those countries and move toward furthering the debt forgiveness for others is a clear sign of the solidarity that people of developed nations must have for those living in developing countries.

"It is the responsibility of the governments of all nations to continue to work toward achieving the promises that have been made over the past 30 years. This includes the commitment to provide 0.7% of the GDP of developed countries as Official Development Assistance to developing countries."

"The promise was made but only a small fraction of that money has ever been provided," indicated the Vatican statement. "This is the sort of program that should go hand in hand with debt relief. It is not enough to simply wipe away the debt. An increase in development aid should follow."
One can hope that the G8 listens to the suggestion and provides these developing nations with real aid which, as was noted, has been promised.

The Catechism makes it clear the duty that is owed to poorer nations by wealthier nations:
Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves or have been prevented from doing so by tragic historical events. It is a duty in solidarity and charity; it is also an obligation in justice if the prosperity of the rich nations has come from resources that have not been paid for fairly.(2439)

The efforts of poor countries working for growth and liberation must be supported.(2440)

Of course, John Paul the Great, of happy memory, called for, especially during the Jubilee Year of 2000, the cancellation of these types of debts. It is good to see some follow-up by the G8.

Some may argue that this is simply foolishness. After all, the argument goes, these countries have put themselves in these terrible positions of debt and simply relieving them of their debt will not really make any difference. Of course, it will make a difference. And the circumstances which surround the incurring of their debt do not have as much to do with the fact that this debt is choking off their future. In some cases, the corrupt government which ran up the debt is no longer in power, and the government in place is left holding the bag.

Will these nations simply run up another huge debt? This is a possibility, but it would be hoped that the NGOs which are holding the purse strings, primarily the African Development Bank, IMF, and the World Bank, would be wary of handing out risky loans again to these nations. In addition, the possibility of running up a future debt should not dissuade us from forgiving an existing debt. In spiritual terms, we would all be in trouble if God would only forgive us, if it was certain that we would never sin again. (See the parable of the man forgiven a large debt in Luke 18:23-35.)

Posted by David at 3:45 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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