Pope calls for debt relief for poor nations

Pope Francis reads his Easter message in front of the main altar in St Peter’s Basilica before giving his Urbi et Orbi blessing (CNS/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis has called for the debt burden on poorer nations to be forgiven, as he used his Easter message to ask that the world eliminate selfishness and indifference in the fight against COVID-19. Source: The Tablet.

By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

On Easter Sunday morning in St Peter’s Basilica, Francis delivered his traditional Easter message before offering the traditional blessing “Urbi et Orbi” to the city of Rome and to the world.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, instead of delivering it from the balcony of the basilica to a crowd of tens of thousands, the 83-year-old Pope’s blessing was live-streamed to the world from inside St Peter’s.

“In light of the present circumstances, may international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens,” Francis said.

“May all nations be put in a position to meet the greatest needs of the moment through the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations.”

COVID-19 has affected more than 200 countries, with almost two million cases and over 100,000 deaths. Lockdowns imposed by countries to stop the spread of the disease are damaging economies, with poorer nations, already saddled by debt, likely to be the worst affected.

The Pope’s remarks on debt come after Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, suggested a new pandemic “jubilee”.

In Europe, wealthier nations are under pressure to do more to assist the less well-off and the Pope today warned European Union is facing an “epochal challenge” which will define “not only its future but that of the whole world”.

Francis said: “let us not lose the opportunity to give further proof of solidarity, also by turning to innovative solutions. The only alternative is the selfishness of particular interests and the temptation of a return to the past, at the risk of severely damaging the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations”.

COVID-19, the Pope said, was not a moment for countries to become divided against themselves, but instead to pull together and end all wars.

FULL STORY

Let us forgive their debts, pleads Pope (The Tablet

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