United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) welcomed the
decision by the World Bank Executive Board to approve debt cancellation
for an initial 17 countries, effective July 1, as well as the agreement
to cancel poor countries’ debt in the least time possible.
Bishop Thomas Wenski, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Policy, termed the action by the World Bank Executive Board “a concrete application of Pope John Paul II’s call for the ‘globalization of solidarity.’”
This latest decision by the World Bank flows from the commitment made by the G8 leaders last year in Edinburgh, Scotland. It will cancel 100 percent of 17 impoverished countries’ debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and African Development Bank in 2006.
It has been described as a small but significant victory that flows from the sustained interest and advocacy of the Catholic Church and other interested groups.
In a press release issued March 31, the USCCB pointed out that they joined with others to offer an alternative that would grant debt cancellation within two to three months of reaching the completion point, instead of having to wait for over a year.
The USCCB will continue to call for the cancellation of debts for dozens of other impoverished nations and from significant creditors such as the Inter-American Development Bank.