Christian leaders urge IMF and World Bank to cancel debts for developing countries


Christian leaders urge IMF and World Bank to cancel debts for developing countries

More than 140 senior Church leaders from around the world have signed a letter urging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to cancel debts for developing countries fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter – signed by cardinals, archbishops and heads of religious congregations from different Christian denominations – was sent ahead of the World Bank and IMF annual meetings on 16-18 October 2020.

The institutions are expected to discuss debt relief for poor nations at the meeting as part of planning for the global economic recovery.

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IMF and World Bank urged to show ‘courageous leadership’ on debt relief

In the letter, the Church leaders encourage the institutions to show “courageous leadership” and argue that debt cancellation “is the most immediate way to release the finance required to prevent millions of our sisters and brothers being needlessly pushed into poverty by the pandemic.”

Signatories to the letter include:

  • Cardinal Berhaneyesus D. Souraphiel (Archbishop of Addis Ababa)
  • Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu (Archbishop of Kinshasa)
  • Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario (Archbishop Emeritus of Dhaka)
  • Sister Alessandra Smerilli (Coordinator of the Economy Taskforce of the Vatican Commission for Covid-19)
  • Prof Isabel Apawo Phiri (Deputy General Secretary, World Council of Churches)
  • Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon (Secretary General of the Anglican Communion)
  • Rev. Fidon Mwombeki (General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches).

‘Grave risk without debt cancellation’

The faith leaders write that each has “borne witness to the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the most vulnerable members of our communities through illness, death, hunger and loss of livelihoods”.

The letter goes on to acknowledge emergency finance initiatives implemented by the Washington-based institutions earlier in the pandemic, but warns such programmes “are insufficient and do not respond to the urgency and magnitude of the crisis”.

“Without the cancellation of debts, there remains a grave risk that developing countries will not have the money so desperately and urgently needed to halt the spread of the virus, to treat people suffering from the virus and to mitigate and recover from the economic and social destruction threatened by the virus,” the letter insists.

The senior Christian figures cite a call from Pope Francis for debts to be cancelled “in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises” faced by vulnerable countries as a result of the coronavirus.

The Pope reiterated his call for relief earlier this month in an encyclical warning the world must work together to rebuild following the pandemic.

The full letter and list of signatories available here.

Published on the CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) website.