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Rome Reports

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Religious groups shift attention to economic crisis following the Covid-19 pandemic

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund held a series of Spring meetings earlier this month to discuss the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Ahead of the virtual conference Pope Francis addressed a letter to the meetings' participants, urging them to seek an equitable and sustainable recovery plan that recognizes the needs of developing nations, in particular the estimated 52 countries currently experiencing a debt crisis.

The Pope's message is the latest instance in the Catholic Church's efforts to reduce foreign debt and alleviate poverty around the world. 

Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network
This is an issue that the Catholic Church has been a leader on since 1997 when Pope John Paul II aligned the jubilee year of the Church with a campaign for debt relief.

Eric LeCompte is the director of Jubilee USA, a coalition of faith and development groups advocating for debt relief. 

Among the group's recommendations are the creation of a formal process to allow poor countries to rise out of debt. 

Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network
Then we need to move forward some permanent crisis protection processes, debt restructuring processes, the processes that Pope Francis has advocated, that not only can deal with debt now, but create permanent financial stability.

For Pope Francis, debt relief is not only a financial question, but a matter of respecting human dignity. 

Relieving the burden of debt of so many countries and communities today, is a profoundly human gesture that can help people to develop, to have access to vaccines, health, education and jobs.

Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network
I think the question that lies before us, will we heed Pope Francis' advice and ensure that we put in place processes to prevent the next crisis from happening?

Pope Francis has advocated for economic structures that recognize the needs of the world's poorest nations since the start of his pontificate. Now, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for global economic reform is greater than ever. 

Justin McLellan