Increasingly, global economic leaders are recognizing an important connection between international debt and poverty. Many poor nations have huge debts that they cannot sustain and that drain much-needed resources. This has happened because of mistakes or mismanagement by debtor governments, initiatives by creditors that may not have been sound, or changes in global economic circumstances beyond any one country's control.
Now, poor countries are using scarce financial resources to make debt payments, often at the expense of funding for health care, education, housing, and other basic needs. This makes progress on reducing poverty and increasing development in these countries difficult, if not impossible. It also means that many of the world's poorest people are suffering enormously and are unable to obtain services to meet their basic needs.
Because the debt burdens carried by poor countries affect the well-being of the world's poorest people and represent an often overwhelming obstacle to development, the Catholic Church has been a strong proponent of debt relief. Pope John Paul II has called on all the countries of the world to "reduce substantially, if not cancel outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations."