Puerto Rico Archbishop Invites Prayers for Congress, Creditors and Political Leaders

 
As Congress introduces legislation to address Puerto Rico's financial crisis, San Juan's Catholic Archbishop is inviting prayers that all "work together to find a solution to the crisis that respects the rights and dignity of all sides."

As Congress introduces legislation to address Puerto Rico's financial crisis, San Juan's Catholic Archbishop is inviting prayers that all "work together to find a solution to the crisis that respects the rights and dignity of all sides." The Archbishop's thoughts come as the House Committee on Natural Resources is in the introduction process of a legislative solution. Congress holds a special hearing on Wednesday on the new legislation.

"I invite the people of Puerto Rico and all people of faith around the world to join me and pray for the US Congress as they consider action around Puerto Rico," said Puerto Rico's Catholic Archbishop, Roberto Octavio González Nieves, O.F.M. "We also must pray for Puerto Rico's leaders and creditors to work together to find a solution to the crisis that protects the rights and dignity of all sides. Finally we pray that any solutions will ensure that the debt is brought to payable levels, without further sacrifice to our social services."

The legislation, or the "Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act," has provisions for a financial oversight board. "We pray that any solution seeks to reduce child poverty on the island and invest in our people. We pray that solutions respect Puerto Rico's democracy," continued Archbishop González.

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla signed a bill last week placing a moratorium on debt payments to prioritize payments for social services. The US territory will likely default on a $422 million May 1 payment. Puerto Rico cut funding for education, health care and law enforcement to pay its debt. The island's poverty rate is over 40% and nearly three out of four children live in homes that receive government assistance.

Jubilee USA Network, a religious development coalition with 550 faith communities, spearheaded thousands of phone calls asking Congress that legislation has strong debt restructuring tools and reduces child poverty. The group is also coordinating churches and synagogues to "pray for Congress."

"There can be no economic growth in Puerto Rico until the debt is brought back to sustainable levels," remarked Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network who testified to Congress about the proposed legislation. "Congress must adopt a solution that promotes budget transparency, reduces child poverty and ensures strong provisions to restructure the debt in a manner that is timely, comprehensive and orderly."

Religious leaders on the island renewed calls for negotiated solutions that will reduce harm to Puerto Rico's people and provide investment for economic growth.

"It is urgent that leaders of our country and creditors can sit together at the table of dialogue and fellowship to find a responsible solution that does not sacrifice our people, already going to a very difficult situation, stated Reverend Heriberto Martínez, the head of Puerto Rico's Bible Society. "Our creditors should recognize that above any further consideration should be the well-being of human beings. The well-being of my brother and sister is and should be our main and highest priority."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 550 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee USA builds an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org

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