“The time has come to ensure, for the sake of peace, that no man, woman and child will ever be hungry again!” the Pope told members of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), gathered in Rome for their 34th general conference today.
Benedict XVI decried the paradox of "the relentless spread of poverty in a world that is also experiencing unprecedented prosperity, not only in the economic sphere but also in the rapidly developing fields of science and technology."
Given the development of resources and the increase in man’s ability to grow food, "all forms of discrimination, and particularly those that thwart agricultural development, must be rejected since they constitute a violation of the basic right of every person to be 'free from hunger,'” the pontiff explained. Indeed, “these convictions are in fact demanded by the very nature of your work on behalf of the common good of humanity," said the Pope.
Such obstacles as "armed conflicts, outbreaks of disease, adverse atmospheric and environmental conditions and the massive forced displacement of peoples," said the Pope, "should serve as a motivation to redouble our efforts to provide each person with his or her daily bread.
The contribution of the Church to the achievements of technology is to call for “far- sighted programs embodying enduring values grounded in the inalienable dignity and rights of the human person," he added.
Benedict XVI continued his talk by saying that "today more than ever, the human family needs to find the tools and strategies capable of overcoming the conflicts caused by social differences, ethnic rivalries, and the gross disparity in levels of economic development." This, according to the Pope, is where religion can bring its unique contribution “as a potent spiritual force for healing the wounds of conflict and division … especially through the work of forming minds and hearts in accordance with a vision of the human person."
"Technical progress, important as it is, is not everything," Benedict told the FAO delegates. "Progress must be placed within the wider context of the integral good of the human person. It must constantly draw nourishment from the common patrimony of values which can inspire concrete initiatives aimed at a more equitable distribution of spiritual and material goods."
The Holy Father pointed to the spiritual dimension of providing aid to others by quoting his own encyclical: "those who are in a position to help others will realize that, in doing so, they themselves receive help; being able to help others is no merit or achievement of their own" (Deus Caritas Est, # 35). “This principle has a special application to the world of agriculture, in which the work of those who are often considered the "lowliest" members of society should be duly acknowledged and esteemed,” he said.
Benedict concluded his remarks by recalling how "FAO's outstanding activity on behalf of development and food security clearly points to the correlation between the spread of poverty and the denial of basic human rights, beginning with the fundamental right to adequate nutrition. Peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights are inseparably linked. The time has come to ensure, for the sake of peace, that no man, woman and child will ever be hungry again!"