04/01/2020, 17.12
VATICAN – PHILIPPINES
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Card Tagle calls for COVID-19 'jubilee' to forgive poor countries’ debt

“Now we realise that we don’t have enough masks but there are more than enough bullets,” said Card Tagle. “We don’t have enough supplies of ventilators but we have millions of pesos, dollars or euros spent on one plane that could attack people.”

Rome (AsiaNews) – Philippine Card Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the evangelisation of peoples, is proposing a debt forgiveness “jubilee” for countries that are fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

In his homily during the Mass he celebrated on Sunday at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino, streamed live in Manila by TV Maria, a Philippine Catholic TV station, the cardinal called for the "forgiveness of debts", especially of poor nations, and for redirecting military expenditure to social needs.

“Now we realise that we don’t have enough masks but there are more than enough bullets,” the cardinal said. Likewise, “We don’t have enough supplies of ventilators but we have millions of pesos, dollars or euros spent on one plane that could attack people.”

The lack of resources, in his view, could be the “tomb” of poor countries and their people. rich nations, he pleaded, should “forgive” the interest they imposed on loans to poor countries “so that they could use their dwindling resources” on pressing concerns.

With debt forgiveness, “those who are in the tombs of indebtedness could find life,” Tagle said. In addition, military spending should be redirected to “real security” like education, housing and food.

“Could we stop wars, please? Could we stop producing weapons, please? Could we get out of the tomb and spend the money for real security?” he insisted.

In the name of social justice, Pope John Paul II had already called for the ​​cancellation, or at least the reduction, of poor countries’ foreign debt, in his Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente released on 10 November 1994 for the Great Jubilee of 2000.

Some western governments and international organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank paid some lip service to external debt relief for poor countries but nothing concrete came of it.

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