DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN November 20-22, 1998 vol. 9, no. 228
NEWS & VIEWS
VATICAN ASKS CANCELLATION OF MITCH VICTIMS' DEBTS AS HONDURAN BISHOPS ACCEPT ROLE IN DELIVERING RELIEF SUPPLIES
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- In a new public appeal to the developed nations, issued by the Vatican press office today, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has asked for the cancellation of debts owed by the nations suffering from the effects of hurricane Mitch.
In a statement signed by Archbishop Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, the president of the dicastery, the Council pointed out that the storm had not only caused thousands of deaths, but also the destruction of crops, roads, bridges, and infrastructure, especially in Honduras and Nicaragua. The result will be devastating to the nations' economies, the Council observed, and "calls into question the capacity of these countries, which are already among the most impoverished in the world, to cope with the debt payments."
The situation calls for "a new gesture" from creditor nations in response to "an immense human tragedy," the Vatican document says. In order to help "programs for sustainable reconstruction" in the devastated region, the Pontifical Council salutes nations which have announced the cancellation of debts, and urged other nations to imitate that gesture.
Meanwhile, in those ravaged Central American countries the Catholic Church of Honduras has accepted -- "as a challenge and a vote of confidence" -- the role of supervising the delivery of relief supplies to the victims of Hurricane Mitch.
After a meeting with government representatives and leaders of major relief operations, the Catholic Church agreed to administer the distribution of food, medicine, and other supplies within the relief camps that have been opened around the country to accommodate families left homeless by the storm. The Church will supervise the relief operations for a period of one month. As in the case of Nicaragua, officials indicated that the Church had been asked to fulfill that role in order to avoid any questions of political corruption in the relief operations.
In Managua, the Nicaraguan bishops' conference
issued a stern statement condemning any effort to use the
tragic consequences of the hurricane as an occasion for
gaining political advantage. The bishops' statement noted
"with great sorrow" that some local political authorities
were impeding relief efforts, apparently fearful that the
entry of donors from outside the region might undercut
their own privileged standing. Others, the bishops
suggested, were seeking to use the relief operation as a
base for political or even religious proselytism. The
bishops' statement rejected such efforts, as well as "the
language of division and intrigue."
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
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