On Tuesday, Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, the Vatican’s apostolic nuncio to Uruguay, told members of a United Nations Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development that the world body must never consider the rural world of “secondary importance”, but must guarantee real opportunities for economic and societal development.
The conference, which is being held in Porto Alegre, Brazil through Friday, was conceived and organized by the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
The archbishop told the assembly that the themes of the conference "are of vital importance to the human family and, as such, they also appeal directly to the Catholic Church which ... feels called to support the cause of human beings in all circumstances."
He also stressed the need--being addressed by the gathering--to "give fresh impulse to international solidarity in order to face the challenge presented by the development of peoples,” adding his support for a “compromise in favor of the growth of the rural world in order to guarantee humanity effective food security."
Archbishop Bolonek went on to point out what he called an urgent need "to avoid the danger of the rural world being considered of secondary importance, or even forgotten altogether.”
This, he stressed, “would be detrimental to those fruitful elements of social, economic and spiritual order that characterize it."
He chided the FAO, saying that the group‘s “idea of once again associating agrarian reform with rural development shows that, despite various initiatives carried out in many countries and incessant appeals for collaboration launched by international institutions, millions of people continue to await results.”
The prelate urged conference members to recognize “that one of the limits on policies and interventions in support of the rural world is the lack of reference to traditional structures, to moral values ... and to the capacity for autonomous action on the part of individuals and communities."
The Archbishop explained that "Because they often live in situations of poverty and exploitation, with limited access to markets ... and no support for their fundamental rights and needs, landless peasants and small-holders must be the primary recipients of cooperation programs ... that are able to guarantee real development."
Protecting the Natural Order
Archbishop Bolonek went on to stress what he called this generation's fundamental responsibility to conserve and protect the created environment, as well as respect the "mutual balance" of its various ecosystems.
He said that "The worldwide scope of agricultural activity, the use of modern technology and constant progress in research encourage us to hope ... in the rapid and imminent growth of the production and rate of human development.”
He quickly added however, that “these elements must be evaluated positively, on the condition that they are seen as being an extension of the creation, something given to the human family and not factors to disturb the natural order."