Justice and peace groups in England and Wales have expressed shock at the news that a leading world banker, Michel Camdessus, managing director of the International Monetary Fund between 1987 and February 2000, has been appointed to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican. Over the weekend, John Marshall, chair of the National Justice and Peace Network of England and Wales, issued the following statement: I am both surprised and dismayed at the appointment of Michel Camdessus to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. It seems a totally insensitive appointment that takes no consideration of the feelings of people living in the Highly Indebted Poor Countries who have, and are, suffering so much as a direct result of having to repay their debts to the World Bank and the IMF. I am also concerned by how this appointment will be perceived in ecumenical and interfaith circles, such as Jubilee 2000, where so many Catholics have worked for several years in harmony with brothers and sisters from other Christian denominations and other faiths with the common goal of demanding a change of heart on the part of the World Bank and the IMF, but with so far very little real success. This appointment will certainly take some explaining! A number of Catholics were originally motivated to work for debt cancellation by the Pope's words of encouragement in the document TMA and kept going in the face of disappointing results by his continual vocal support. Many of those people committed to justice and peace are travelling to Prague in September to demonstrate against the World Bank and the IMF and need to know that the church is solidly behind us. Knowing that the church is solidly behind the forgiveness of debt to the poorest highly indebted countries makes this appointment even more difficult to understand.
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