Updated: April 22, 2021 06:04 AM GMT
Pope Francis leads the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St. Peter's Square in the Vatican on April 18. (Photo: AFP)
Pope Francis has renewed his appeal to the international community to forgive the debt of poor countries whose financial burdens have worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a message sent April 21 to participants at the Ibero-American Summit, the pope said debt forgiveness "is a gesture that will help people to develop and to have access to vaccines, health, education and employment."
"Such a gesture must be accompanied by the implementation of sound economic policies and good governance that reaches the poorest," he said.
According to its website, the summit brings together representatives of 22 Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries in order to strengthen "a well-established space for Ibero-American dialogue."
In his message, the pope remembered the victims of the pandemic, which "has struck people of every culture, creed, social and economic level."
The pope said vaccinations "should be considered a 'universal common good,'" and he encouraged efforts to ensure "an equitable distribution of vaccines, not based on purely economic criteria, but taking into account the needs of all, especially the most vulnerable and needy."
It is urgent to consider a model of recovery capable of generating new, more inclusive and sustainable solutions
The pandemic, he continued, provides an opportunity "to rethink the relationship between the person and the economy."
"We must therefore join forces to create a new horizon of expectations where economic profit is not the main objective, but the protection of human life" is, the pope said. "In this sense, it is urgent to consider a model of recovery capable of generating new, more inclusive and sustainable solutions."
Echoing a suggestion he made April 8 to the World Bank, Pope Francis called for measures that would "allow access to external financing" through "'special drawing rights.'"
According to the International Monetary Fund, special drawing rights, commonly known as SDR, are international reserve assets that can "play a role in providing liquidity and supplementing member countries' official reserves," especially during times of financial crisis.
The pope said SDR funds "can be used to promote and encourage economic and productive development, so that everyone can emerge from the current situation with the best chance of recovery."
"None of this will be possible without a strong political will that has the courage to decide to change things, especially priorities, so that the poor are not the ones who pay the highest cost of these tragedies that are striking our human family," he said.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.