Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Sunday, 9 June 2024
Pope: Jubilee Year an occasion to cancel foreign debt
Speaking to participants in a Vatican conference on debt in the Global South, Pope Francis says that the upcoming Jubilee Year is an opportunity to cancel or reduce debt owed by poorer countries.

A cashier checks Indian rupee notes inside a room at a fuel station in Ahmedabad

A cashier checks Indian rupee notes inside a room at a fuel station in Ahmedabad

Joseph Tulloch/ :

On Wednesday, June 5, 2024, Pope Francis met with participants in a conference entitled “Debt Crisis in the Global South", organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences.


The Pope joked about the early start to the meeting, which was held at 7:45am, apologizing to participants for “dragging you out of bed.”


Millions left without future

Pope Francis then moved on to discuss the debt crisis, underlining the extent of the problem.


“After a mismanaged globalization, after pandemics and wars,” he said, “we are now faced with a debt crisis that mainly affects the countries of the Global South, generating misery and distress.”

This situation, he said, deprives “millions of people of the possibility of a decent future”.


'Daring and creative' solutions

What can be done about the problem?


The scale of the crisis, the Pope said, calls for bold measures – “a new international financial architecture that is both daring and creative.”


In order to avoid an “every man for himself” mentality – in which “it is always the weakest” who lose out – what is needed, the Pope argued, is a “multinational mechanism” to manage debt between countries.


This mechanism, the Pope stressed, must take into account “the global significance of the problem and its economic, financial and social implications”.


The aim, he said, is a debt system based on “shared responsibility between those who give and those who receive.”


Debt forgiveness

In the final section of his address, Pope Francis turned to discuss the upcoming Jubilee Year of 2025.


The Catholic Church celebrates a Holy Year every quarter of a century, a practice with roots in the ancient Jewish tradition of the Jubilee, when slaves would be freed and debts forgiven.


Noting that, during the last Jubilee in 2000, Pope John Paul II encouraged the reduction or even forgiveness of foreign debt, Pope Francis said that he wanted to “echo this prophetic appeal.


“We are only custodians and stewards" of our money, he emphasized, “not masters.”



Pope Francis brought his address to a close by inviting participants in the debt conference to “dream and work together for the improvement of our common home.”

“What you are doing is important”, he said. “I will pray for you, and please, do not forget to pray for me.”