For Immediate Release
Pope Francis Calls for UN to Address 'Oppressive' Lending
WASHINGTON - In his address to the United Nations General Assembly this morning, Pope Francis promoted a series of specific economic policies on debt, trade and tax to alleviate poverty. The Pope's UN speech follows his address to a joint session of Congress yesterday where he emphasized building bridges to protect the vulnerable and address inequality.
"The Pope just called for responsible lending policies to benefit the vulnerable," noted Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious anti-poverty coalition Jubilee USA Network. LeCompte advises the Vatican and the UN on finance and poverty issues. "He's connecting the failure of austerity and reckless lending policies to poverty and plight."
Pope Francis began his speech by calling on international financial institutions to prevent "oppressive lending systems" from harming vulnerable communities. He specifically referenced "usury" - the practice of charging exceptionally high interest rates - as a form of abuse hurting developing countries. Francis encouraged the United Nations to use its administrative agencies to address structural poverty issues. This summer, Pope Francis endorsed a UN global bankruptcy process for countries.
"It's amazing to see Pope Francis talk about usury and the responsibility of creditors," stated LeCompte. "Pope Francis told the UN that it has a responsibility to use its agencies to solve the debt crisis."