WASHINGTON (July 19, 2005) – Congressional support for the debt cancellation agreement reached earlier this month at the G8 summit in Scotland will offer hope to some of the world's poorest countries, according to the chairman of the bishops' International Policy Committee.
"Congressional support for implementation of the G8 debt cancellation agreement will reinforce the new global partnership reached at the G8 summit, offering hope that countries can cooperate in eliminating the conditions that lead to suffering and despair and in some cases allow terrorism to fester," said Pensacola-Tallahassee Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, in a letter sent to every member of the U.S. House and Senate. "I urge you to support … the Multilateral Debt Relief Act of 2005."
The Multilateral Debt Relief Act was introduced in the Senate (S 1320) on June 28, and in the House (HR 3191) on June 30. The bill authorizes the appropriation of the funds necessary to finance the U.S. share of the G8 agreement's costs.
Bishop Ricard said the legislation was important for two additional reasons. First, it also authorizes the cancellation of debt owed to the Inter-American Development Bank. Without this expansion of debt relief, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will have a much smaller share of their debt canceled than African nations, Bishop Ricard said.
Second, the legislation puts the Congress on record as urging the U.S. Treasury Department to work toward debt relief for countries eligible for grant financing from the International Development Association but which are not eligible for debt cancellation under the G8 agreement.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' "support for this new step towards deeper debt cancellation reflects our religious and moral principles that commit us to 'the least of these' (Matthew 25)," said Bishop Ricard.
For many years, the USCCB has advocated for deep debt relief for the world's poorest countries. Bishop Ricard earlier welcomed the G8's actions in Scotland (http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2005/05-158.shtml ).
The full text of Bishop Ricard's letters to the House and Senate can be found online at www.usccb.org.