Vatican praises G-8 decision to cancel debt

The Vatican hailed an agreement by the world's richest nations to cancel $40 billion of debt owed by some of the world's poorest countries, but said the move should be followed by an increase in development aid.

Catholic News Service reports, a statement by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said the debt cancellation should be "the first of many steps" taken to brighten the future of the world's poor.

On June 11, finance ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations -- the United States, Britain, Japan, Canada, Russia, Germany, Italy and France -- met in London and agreed on the debt write-off package.

Eighteen poor countries, most of them in Africa, will benefit immediately from the debt cancellation. The plan could eventually be extended to 20 other countries if they submit economic adjustment programs.

The Vatican statement commended the richer countries for "finally" moving to erase some of the debt burden, and recalled that the Catholic Church has been pushing for debt relief for many years.

"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," the statement said.

The Vatican said it was important, however, that the funds freed by debt forgiveness now be used to provide necessary public goods, such as clean water, basic health care and education.

It also chided the developed world for failing to live up to previous pledges on development aid, in particular the commitment by many nations to boost foreign aid budgets to 0.7 percent of their national income.

"The promise was made but only a small fraction of that money has ever been provided. 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," the Vatican statement said.

"Developed countries cannot continue making empty promises and agreeing to development programs that will not be carried out," it said.

Vatican hails G-8 decision to cancel debt, urges more development aid (Catholic News Service 14/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
About the G8 (Wikipedia)
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
Jubilee Australia

Columban call to observe World Debt Day on Monday (CathNews 12/5/05)
British Caritas targets hypocrisy of G8 leaders (CathNews 2/6/03)
Commission promotes action for debt cancellation (CathNews 2/12/03)

Vatican envoy denounces anti-Christian bias in Europe (Catholic World News 14/6/05)
L'Osservatore Romano praises debt relief for 18 poor countries (Catholic News Agency 14/6/05)

15 Jun 2005