Bishops of America Call for Increased Action to Cancel the Debts of the Poorest Countries

Wednesday, February 23 2000

February 21-23, 2000
Vancouver, BC CANADA

Media Release

A Call for Increased Action
To Cancel the Debts of the Poorest Countries

Bishops from Latin America, Canada and the United States met over the last two days to discuss matters of critical concern for Church and society in the Western hemisphere. The meeting was a direct follow-up to Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation last year, Ecclesia in America, calling for the development of closer links among the people of this hemisphere as we enter the new millennium.

Representative bishops from the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano (CELAM, the Latin American Bishops’ Council), the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the USA National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) made reports on progress stemming from the Holy Father’s Exhortation. Discussion centred on the Church and culture, the new evangelization, mission, pastoral development, and Catholic social teaching. Reports on the current situations in Haiti and Venezuela were highlighted.

The bishops gave particular focus to international debt, in response to the Pope’s calls for substantial debt forgiveness on the occasion of the Great Jubilee. The bishops expressed gratitude to the Holy Father for being the strongest world voice calling for debt relief and the reduction of poverty. The Holy Father follows the example of Jesus Christ in challenging us to be especially committed to the poor.

Special emphasis at this meeting was placed on the tragic consequences of international debt on the people of Latin America. While noting progress that is currently being made in these issues, the bishops planned for increased conversation and effective steps to reduce external debts. They stressed the importance of continued advocacy with their respective civil governments, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, economists, ethicists, individual bankers and other business leaders. The bishops encouraged dioceses and parishes to advance awareness of the issues and to develop solidarity with people suffering acute poverty as a consequence of oppressive debt.

The bishops stressed the importance of eliminating corruption, assuring transparency and widening the participation of civil society in debt reduction measures.

The bishops also made plans for future meetings to continue the dialogue and to develop further steps to reduce or eliminate the heavy debt borne by the poorest nations of the world.

February 23, 2000



Monseñor Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, Presidente Monseñor Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Primer Vicepresidente Monseñor Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Secundo Vicepresidente Monseñor Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, Secretario General Monseñor Ricardo Cuéllar Romo, Secretario Adjunto Padre Carlos Quintana Puente, Tesorero General Monseñor Roberto Octavio González Nieves, Presidente del Comité Económico Monseñor Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., Presidente, Conferencia Episcopal de Honduras Monseñor Luis Bambarén Gastelumendi, S.J., Presidente, Conferencia Episcopal Peruana Monseñor Alberto Suárez Inda, Arzobispo de Morelia, Mexico Monseñor Baltazar Porras Cardozo, Presidente, Conferencia Episcopal de Venezuela Padre Carlos Quintana Puente, Tesorero General Monseñor Jacyr Francisco Braido, Obispo Coadjutor de Santos, Brasil


Most Reverend Gerald Wiesner, OMI, President Mgr Jacques Berthelet, c.s.v., Vice-président Mgr André Gaumond, Co-trésorier Most Reverend Brendan O’Brien, Co-Treasurer Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, PH, General Secretary Mr. Joseph Gunn, Director, Social Affairs


Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza, President Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Vice President Most Reverend Henry J. Mansell, Treasurer Most Reverend Robert J. Banks, Past Treasurer Msgr. William P. Fay, General Secretary-Elect Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick, Immediate Past Chairman, Committee on International Policy Msgr. Dennis Schnurr, General Secretary


Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, Nuncio to Haiti Archbishop Paolo Romeo, Nuncio to Canada Mons. Hubert Constant, OMI, Presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal de Haití