Vatican Urges Debt Cancellation For Small Island States

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FILE – Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. Pope Francis apologized Tuesday, May 28, 2024, after he was quoted using a vulgar term about gays to reaffirm the Catholic Church’s ban on gay priests. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni issued a statement acknowledging the media storm that erupted about Francis’ comments, which were delivered behind closed doors to Italian bishops on May 20. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

The Holy See has urged developed nations to cancel debt held by small island states, which are on the front line of climate change, Vatican News said Wednesday.

“Debt cancellation is not just a matter of economic or development policy,” Vatican representative Robert Murphy said during a four-day Small Island Developing States (SIDS) conference.

It is “a moral imperative rooted in the principles of justice and solidarity”, he said Tuesday.

SIDS are extremely vulnerable to climate change but not rich enough to stop it on their own.

“The escalating debt burden faced by SIDS is becoming more and more unsustainable”, Murphy told the summit in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, according to Vatican News.

“Moreover, debt perpetuates a cycle of dependency that hampers SIDS’ ability to address pressing issues such as poverty eradication and climate change,” he told the conference of 39 states, whose populations number roughly 65 million people.

Pope Francis called earlier this month for wealthy countries to cancel debts owed by lower-income countries not out of “of generosity” but “justice”.

Francis, who has made protecting the environment a key theme of his papacy, said rich nations have an “ecological debt” due to “the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time”.


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