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Thursday, October 27, 2016
Pope addresses world summit on food security
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At midday today Benedict XVI visited the Rome headquarters of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for the occasion of the World Summit on Food Security, being held there from 16 to 18 November.

Given below are some excerpts from the Holy Father's address to the gathering:

"The international community is currently facing a grave economic and financial crisis. Statistics bear witness to the dramatic growth in the number of people suffering from hunger, made worse by the rise in price of foodstuffs, the reduction in economic resources available to the poorest peoples, and their limited access to markets and to food - notwithstanding the known fact that the world has enough food for all its inhabitants.

"Indeed, while low levels of agricultural production persist in some regions, partly owing to climate change, sufficient food is produced on a global scale to satisfy both current demands and those in the foreseeable future. From these data we may deduce that there is no cause-and-effect relationship between population growth and hunger, and this is further demonstrated by the lamentable destruction of foodstuffs for economic gain.

"In the Encyclical Letter 'Caritas in veritate' I pointed out that ... 'what is missing is a network of economic institutions capable of guaranteeing regular access to sufficient food and water ... and also capable of addressing the primary needs and necessities ensuing from genuine food crises'".

There is a "need to oppose those forms of aid that do grave damage to the agricultural sector, those approaches to food production that are geared solely towards consumption and lack a wider perspective, and especially greed, which causes speculation to rear its head even in the marketing of cereals, as if food were to be treated just like any other commodity.

"The weakness of current mechanisms for food security and the need to re-examine them are confirmed, one might say, by the mere fact that this summit has been convoked".

"The concept of co-operation, though, must be consistent with the principle of subsidiarity. ... This is because integral human development requires responsible choices on the part of everyone and it demands an attitude of solidarity - meaning that aid or disaster relief should not be seen as opportunities to promote the interests of those who make resources available or of elite groups among the beneficiaries".

"Within this overall context of responsibility, every country has the right to define its own economic model, taking steps to secure its freedom to choose its own objectives. In this way, co-operation must become an effective instrument, unbeholden to interests that can absorb a not insignificant part of the resources destined for development. Moreover, it is important to emphasise that an attitude of solidarity regarding the development of poor countries also has the potential to contribute to a solution of the current global crisis".

"In the current situation there is a continuing disparity in the level of development within and among nations that leads to instability in many parts of the world, accentuating the contrast between poverty and wealth".

A risk exists, "namely the tendency to view hunger as structural, an integral part of the socio-political situation of the weakest countries, a matter of resigned regret, if not downright indifference. It is not so, and it must never be so! To fight and conquer hunger it is essential to start redefining the concepts and principles that have hitherto governed international relations, in such a way as to answer the question: what can direct the attention and the consequent conduct of States towards the needs of the poorest? The response must be sought not in the technical aspects of co-operation, but in the principles that lie behind it: only in the name of common membership of the worldwide human family can every people and therefore every country be asked to practice solidarity, that is, to shoulder the burden of concrete responsibilities in meeting the needs of others, so as to favour the genuine sharing of goods, founded on love".

"If the aim is to eliminate hunger, international action is needed not only to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth and political stability, but also to seek out new parameters - primarily ethical but also juridical and economic ones - capable of inspiring the degree of co-operation required to build a relationship of parity between countries at
different stages of development.

"This, as well as closing the existing gap, could favour the capacity of each people to consider itself an active player, thereby confirming that the fundamental equality of all peoples is rooted in the common origin of the human family, the source of those principles of 'natural law' that should inspire political, juridical and economic choices and approaches in international life".

"In order to combat hunger and promote integral human development, ... access to international markets must be favoured for those products coming from the poorest areas, which today are often relegated to the margins. In order to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to separate the rules of international trade from the logic of profit viewed as an end in itself, directing them towards the support of economic initiative in countries with greater need of development; once they have greater income at their disposal, these countries will be able to advance towards the self-sufficiency that leads to food security.

"Nor must the fundamental rights of the individual be forgotten, which include, of course, the right to sufficient, healthy and nutritious food, and likewise water; these rights take on an important role in the realisation of others, beginning with the primary one, the right to life".

"Methods of food production likewise demand attentive analysis of the relationship between development and protection of the environment. ... While the entire human race is called to acknowledge its obligations to future generations, it is also true that States and international organisations have a duty to protect the environment as a shared good".

"Norms, legislation, development plans and investments are not enough, however: what is needed is a change in the lifestyles of individuals and communities, in habits of consumption and in perceptions of what is genuinely needed. Most of all, there is a moral duty to distinguish between good and evil in human action, so as to rediscover the bond of communion that unites the human person and creation. ... 'Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society'.

"Hunger is the most cruel and concrete sign of poverty. Opulence and waste are no longer acceptable when the tragedy of hunger is assuming ever greater proportions. ... The Catholic Church will always be concerned for efforts to defeat hunger; the Church is committed to support, by word and deed, the action taken in solidarity - planned, responsible and regulated - to which all members of the international community are called to contribute. The Church does not wish to interfere in political decisions: she respects the knowledge gained through scientific study, and decisions arrived at through reason responsibly enlightened by authentically human values, and she supports the effort to eliminate hunger.

"This is the most immediate and concrete sign of solidarity inspired by charity, and it brooks neither delay nor compromise. Such solidarity relies on technology, laws and institutions to meet the aspirations of individuals, communities and entire peoples, yet it must not exclude the religious dimension, with all the spiritual energy that it brings, and its promotion of the human person".

Source: VIS
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Tags: , Benedict XVI, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO, World Summit on Food Security

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