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Pope Francis has called for the reduction or outright forgiveness of debts of poor countries.

In an Easter message at the Vatican yesterday, the pope said by reducing or cancelling debts, countries would be in a better position to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

“This is not a time for indifference, because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic. May the risen Jesus grant hope to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless,” Pope said in his Easter address.

“In light of the present circumstances, may international sanctions be relaxed, since these make it difficult for countries on which they have been imposed to provide adequate support to their citizens, and may all nations be put in a position to meet the greatest needs of the moment through the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations.”

While offering prayers for the sick, poor and elderly, Francis urged political leaders to give hope and opportunity to laid-off workers.

There should be solidarity the world over to confront the disease he described as an “epochal challenge” posed by the global health crisis, he said.

He urged the European Union (EU) to step up to the challenge posed by COVID-19 and resist the tendencies of selfishness and division.

The pontiff recalled how Europe rose again after World War II “thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that enabled it to overcome the rivalries of the past.”

“This is not a time for self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing between persons,” Francis said.


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