Washington DC - As Pope Francis begins the first leg of his three-city US tour, his central message will focus on an economy that serves everyone. The Catholic leader will speak at a rare joint session of Congress, the White House and in New York at the United Nations.
"The Pope's central message will focus on an economy that leaves no one behind," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network, a religious development coalition founded by a call from Pope John Paul II. LeCompte works with the Vatican and Catholic Church leadership on global finance and addressing poverty. "This Pope speaks specifically on economic issues and how they impact poverty."
The Pope's US visit comes as the Catholic Church prepares for the upcoming "Jubilee Year," a celebration focused on mercy and compassion for the poor. The Jubilee Year is tied in Catholic teaching to global economic policies that alleviate poverty. In the late 1990's in response to a global debt crisis, the Catholic Church joined global religious bodies to found the Jubilee movement that won $130 billion in debt relief for more than 30 of the world's poorest counties.
Last year, Pope Francis and Vatican Secretary State Cardinal Pietro Parolin met a Jubilee delegation led by LeCompte. During Vatican meetings, the Church emphasized its support for global debt, tax and trade polices that can end poverty. In July, Pope Francis expressed support for a United Nations global bankruptcy process that could help Greece or developing countries mired in debt. Pope Francis said, "if a company can declare bankruptcy, why can't a country do so and we go to the aid of others?" On September 10, the United Nations voted 136-6 with 41 abstentions to adopt principles to guide debt processes for countries in crisis, a step towards a bankruptcy process.
"The Pope believes we need a transparent and sustainable global economy," noted LeCompte. "His message is good news for most of us and bad news for a small group of hedge funds."
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build 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. http://www.jubileeusa.org