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Welcome to the Justpeace Front Page.

Each week this page highlights a particular aspect of the study, spirituality, and practice of the justice and peace teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The new page is supposed to be posted Monday evening. This week was a day late, so the next update will be posted Tuesday May 19th. The previous Front Pages may be accessed at the bottom of this page. To continue on to the main part of this site, and its 1300+ links, click on home index above. This week we consider the Catholic response to the crisis of heavily indebted countries.

"Thus, in the spirit of the book of Leviticus (25:8-12), Christians will have to raise their voice on behalf of all the poor of the world, proposing the Jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought, among other things, to reducing substantially, if not canceling outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations. From the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II, Tertio Millenio Adveniente

Back in the 1970s, the West offered "Third World" countries cheap loans. They spent a lot of it buying stuff from us. Some of it was siphoned off into secret Swiss bank accounts and other corrupt schemes. These countries now suffer greatly from this burden of debt. They are closing schools and hospitals to pay interest on these loans. In most cases, the entire principle of the loan has been paid, but not all of the interest. This in turn is capitalized, so that the loan values continue to climb.

In civilized countries, when somebody gets this deep into a hole, we provide for bankruptcy procedures. Yet, on an international stage, we are willing to snatch food from the mouths of starving babies so that western bankers can have their loans repaid. This is not just hyperbole or propaganda. It is a very sad fact and a tragic commentary on the morality of the political and economic elites of "Western Civilization". If any of us treated somebody in our own towns like this, we would be scorned (and righteously so) for persecuting the poor. But throughout the Third World, land is planted to cash crops while people are malnourished and in some cases actually starving. Peasants growing food are driven off land so that large corporate farms can efficiently produce cash crops for export.

The links below discuss the campaign of people of faith to encourage forgiveness for these debts on the occasion of the celebrations of the second Christian millennium. This campaign has the support of Pope John Paul II, who has repeatedly called upon the West to live up to its humanitarian ideals and stop squeezing these very poor people to produce the last nickel of interest for the Scrooges in the banking industry.

Putting Life Before Debt. Start HERE! This is the statement (30 pages when I printed it out) of Caritas Internationalis and International Co-operation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE). These are two major international Catholic organizations. They are alliances of Catholic organizations working international regarding poverty alleviation and justice issues. I'm not sure of their canonical status, but the organizations that compose these groups are all officially sponsored by national conferences of Catholic bishops. Has complete contact information, a suggested plan of action, and a complete explanation of the whys and wherefores of the issue. Considers the theological and the practical.

Executive Summary regarding the International Debt Crisis on the website of Catholic Relief Services, the official overseas relief and development agency of the US Catholic bishops. This is based on the longer "Putting Life Before Debt" page listed above. So if you don't have time to read a 30 page report, this one is three pages. Testimony on FY 998 Foreign Assistance on behalf of the US Catholic Conference and Catholic Relief Services, before the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, of the House Appropriations Committee.

International Debt Page from the official site of the US Catholic Bishops. Go to their Main Page and search using the term "International Debt". Many other resources will be found.

International Monetary Fund

Jubilee 2000: An Internet Resource great Catholic site

Jubilee 2000 Campaign, non-Catholic, secular orientation.

In the Spirit of Jubilee non-Catholic, but Jewish/Christian alliance advocating debt forgiveness. Good links. Access to scriptures regarding the Jubilee and debt cancellation.

Religious Working Group on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund a group of 40 religious organizations and denominations, many are Catholic.

Global Action Network sponsored by the TearFund, an alliance of evangelical Christians in the UK and Ireland. Has debt cancellation information under its Action Section, see "Wicked Web of Debts".

The World Bank mega site, lots of stuff, some of it is very technical, some is more accessible.

Next Update: Tuesday May 19th.

Previous Justpeace Front Pages

Co-operative Enterprise free market alternatives to hard-core corporate capitalism. (May 4-12)

Microenterprise, "entry-level" free enterprise, discusses how poor people can help themselves by starting their own very small businesses.

Memorial to the victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing commemorates the third anniversary of the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995.

Holy Week Home Page access to meditations and scripture for Holy Week

Lenten Meditations Page daily justice and peace meditations for Lent, based on the lectionary readings. Lent Entrance Page

Just War and the Iraqi Escalation page of information and prayers relating to the on-going escalation of the situation in Iraq. Includes novena to Our Lady of Sorrows and Angelus in Time of War.

Roe v. Wade Anniversary with a prayer to Mary for Life by Pope John Paul II.

Home Index access to the main sections of this site.