Quotes from Church documents about the international debt crisis

  • At the end of every seven-year period you shall have a relaxation of debts, which shall be observed as follows. Every creditor shall relax his claim on what he has loaned his neighbor; he must not press his neighbor, his kinsman, because a relaxation in honor of the Lord has been proclaimed. Deuteronomy 15
  • In his providence God had given the earth to humanity, that meant that he had given it to everyone. Therefore the riches of creation were to be considered as a common good of the whole of humanity. Those who possessed these goods as personal property were really only stewards, ministers charged with working in the name of God, who remains the sole owner in the full sense, since it is God's will that created goods should serve everyone in a just way. The jubilee year was meant to restore this social justice. Pope John Paul II, As the Third Millennium Draws Near

  • While the details of the international debt crisis are quite complex, in essence it comes down to a fairly straightforward problem. Often through irresponsible practices on the parts of both creditors and debtor nations, the governments of some of the world's poorest countries have taken (and been given) loans that they do not have the capacity to repay. As a result, they have reduced spending on desperately needed health and education programs in an effort to meet their obligations to international lenders. But even after cutting back on social programs, many countries cannot make full repayment, and so over time debt builds up and makes it increasingly difficult to finance investments in the health, education, and development programs that could pull their people out of poverty. Pope John Paul II

  • In Ethiopia, debt payments are four times more than public spending on health, while over 100,000 children die every year from easily preventable and treatable diarrhea. Oxfam International, Position Paper, April, 1997

  • According to the Human Development Report for 1997, published by the UN Development Program (UNDP), sub-Saharan African governments transfer to northern creditors four times what they spend on the health of their people.

  • Pope John Paul II has identified the issue of international debt as a key priority for the church and an important element of our efforts to apply the tradition of jubilee to our day and time. The problem of the foreign debt is not only or even primarily economic; rather, it is a human problem for it leads to an ever-greater impoverishment and blocks the development and slows the advancement of those who are poorest. We ask ourselves whether the debt is valid, when paying it seriously jeopardizes the survival of our peoples, when the population was not consulted before contracting the debt, and when it has not always been used for lawful purposes. Latin American Catholic Bishops, Santo Domingo Conference, 1992

  • In Uganda, the government spends $3.00 per person annually on health and education and $17.00 per person annually on debt repayments. Yet one of every five Ugandan children dies from preventable disease before reaching the age five. Oxfam International, Position Paper, February, 1996

  • The globalized economy must be analyzed in the light of the principles of social justice, respecting the preferential option for the poor who must be allowed to take their place in such an economy, and the requirements of the international common good. For "the Church's social doctrine is a moral vision which aims to encourage governments, institutions and private organizations to shape a future consonant with the dignity of every person. Within this perspective it is possible to examine questions of external debt, internal political corruption and discrimination both within and between nations. Pope John Paul II - Ecclesia In America