Giving thanks to God for “the fruit of the earth and of human work,” Pope Benedict has called agriculture an “indispensable resource for the future” that is not given enough importance today.
His words came during the Angelus prayer at St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 14, Italy's traditional Thanksgiving Day. It is celebrated on the second Sunday of November to mark the end of the harvest.
"(A) strategic relaunching of agriculture seems decisive" In a global economic development model due for a "deep revision," said the pontiff.
He pointed to symptoms of failure in the global model in the continuing economic crisis, a persistent imbalance between wealth and poverty, the "scandal" of hunger, the "ecological emergency" and unemployment.
In an age when the agricultural sector has lost importance, he said, "it seems to me (to be) the moment for a call to re-evaluate agriculture not in the nostalgic sense, but as an indispensable resource for the future."
Great economies seek advantageous alliances in business to the detriment of poorer nations, Earth's natural resources are "drying up" and long industrialized States promote lifestyles in favor of unsustainable consumption that harms the environment and the poor, he said.
What is needed, explained the Pope, is a "truly concerted" effort to create "a new equilibrium between agriculture, industry and services, so that development may be sustainable, no one is without bread and work, and the air, water and other primary resources may be preserved as universal goods."
The cultivation and protection of a "clear ethical consciousness" to approach today's complex challenges is fundamental, he said. People need to be educated to wiser and more responsible consumption behaviors and the social dimension of rural life must be based on longstanding values such as hospitality, solidarity and sharing the workload.
He welcomed the fact that college graduates are also returning to the fields, not only for personal or family needs, but because of "a concrete sensibility for the common good."
Pope Benedict XVI prayed that that his words might stimulate the international community to rediscover the importance of agriculture.