Archbishop visits Congress, White House in push to ease Puerto Rico debt crisis

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October 1, 2015

Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico, center, listens to a participant after holding a news conference in Washington Sept. 30. The archbishop seeks help from Congress and the White House to ease the island nation's $72 billion debt crisis. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn) See PUERTO-RICO-DEBT-GONZALEZ Oct. 1, 2015.

Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, Puerto Rico, center, listens to a participant after holding a news conference in Washington Sept. 30. The archbishop seeks help from Congress and the White House to ease the island nation’s $72 billion debt crisis. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Concerned that Puerto Rico’s debt crisis is inflicting hardship on poor and middle-class households, Archbishop Robert Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan met with congressional leaders and the White House to push for a resolution.

The crisis has led to school closings, cuts in social services and health care and job layoffs and reductions in employee benefits as Puerto Rico struggles to make payments on the $72 billion in debt the U.S. territory holds.

“We want to create more awareness of the urgency of the situation in Puerto Rico and the dangers that more austerity measures would create. In terms affecting human lives, especially the poor, we already have approximately 50 percent of our people living under the poverty level and obviously the impact of the current situation is creating unemployment and a new exodus of people,” Archbishop Gonzalez told Catholic News Service Sept. 30 after meeting with congressional leaders.

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