Holy See Urges Debt Reduction for More Countries

Considers It a Way to Enhance World’s Security

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NEW YORK, JULY 4, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Ensuring the world’s security requires helping the poorest nations to improve their situation, says the Holy See.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, delivered that message when he called on rich countries to take further steps to assist the poorest.

Specifically, the papal representative urged a reduction in the foreign debt of an additional 38 nations, as well as that of the 18 already agreed upon by the Group of Eight industrial nations.

Archbishop Migliore spoke last Friday at the annual «high-level segment» of the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council.

The Holy See made its appeal on the eve of the summit of G-8 leaders, to be held in Gleneagles, Scotland, this week.

«The true guarantee of world security is to be found in the development of the world’s poorest countries and in that of the more marginalized sectors in each of those countries,» said Archbishop Migliore.

«In other words, it is a question of working at both inequality within individual countries and inequality between different states,» he added.

«Only a proposal»

The archbishop said that the Holy See «is pleased to associate itself with those who support the accord reached in London recently by the G-8 finance ministers to cancel the debts of 18 heavily indebted poor countries.»

«In these last decades, the Holy See has been among the most outspoken advocates of this kind of step, as expressed by the late Pope John Paul II, who often raised his voice in favor of debt cancellation for the world’s poorest countries,» he reminded his audience.

However, according to the archbishop, «the London accord remains only a proposal.»

The G-8 leaders in Scotland will have to «pay attention to the demands of their own people and of civil society, and place before their respective legislatures bills that will lead to the immediate fulfillment of the accord’s promises,» the prelate said.

The Holy See’s permanent observer noted that, while countries are always ready «to defend and promote whatever is perceived as in their own interest, there is often a marked contrast with international financial measures on behalf of the world’s poorest countries.»

The amounts allocated to aid at present «are modest compared with the vast military expenditure throughout the world and the subsidies that the industrialized countries pay to sectors in their own economies.»

Breadth of vision

«Often those very subsidies are responsible for severe distortions in the world’s poorest countries,» he noted. «The debt remission measures which one hopes to see effectively adopted by the multilateral financial institutions are just the start of that path, first of all because the measure in question needs to be extended to some 38 HIPC [highly indebted poor countries] countries,» Archbishop Migliore indicated.

«Secondly, if debt remission were implemented by diverting financial resources from other aid programs» then «the world would end up facing a situation worse than before the measures adopted at Gleneagles,» he added.

According to the Vatican representative, «the upcoming G-8 meeting must show the world the magnanimity and breadth of vision of its leaders.»

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