Pontifical Council welcomes debt relief campaign

 The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has issued a statement welcoming the announcement by the G8, the governments of the world's eight most wealthy nations, to cancel $40 billion in debt owed by eighteen developing countries and the plan to expand the program of debt forgiveness to an additional 20 countries. It says: "For many years, the Church has called for a reduction or outright forgiveness of the debts owed to developed countries by developing countries. In many of his messages for the World Day of Peace, Pope John Paul II spoke of the burden that these debts placed upon the hope for development that these countries so desperately seek. ... Finally there has been a move by the G8 in that direction. ... The Council commends British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the initiative on the eve of the G-8 Summit, as well as all of the leaders of the other governments who have agreed to it." The Pontifical Council, "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. ... 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 thirty years. This includes the commitment to provide 0.7% of the GDP of developed countries as Official Development Assistance (ODA) to developing countries. The promise was made but only a small fraction of that money has ever been provided." "It is the hope of this Pontifical Council that the decision to forgive this initial $40 billion in debt might simply be the first of many steps taken by all developed countries to work toward true solidarity with one another." Source: VIS

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