Humanity cannot exist without farmers, says Pope

Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St Peters Square during the Wednesday general audience on Nov 19 2014 Credit Bohumil Petrik CNA 3 CNA 11 19 14 Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square during the Wednesday general audience Nov. 19, 2014. | Bohumil Petrik

Pope Francis told farmers on Saturday that in a world marked by wastefulness and extreme climate change, they have the important vocation of caring for the earth and providing for all of humanity. 

"Care for the earth, making alliance with it, in order that it may continue to be, as God wants, the source of life for the entire human family," the Pope said.

The Holy Father's remarks were made in the Clementine Hall of the Papal Palace during a Jan. 31 audience with members of Italy's National Federation of Farmers, who celebrate their 70th anniversary of their foundation this year.

The word cultivate, Pope Francis said in prepared remarks, "calls to mind the care which the farmer has for his land because it gives fruit, and this is shared." 

The Holy Father said that without farming, there is no humanity, and without good food, there is no life for "the men and women of every continent."

He went on to describe farming as a true vocation which merits deserves to be recognized and valued, and warned against measures which penalize this "valuable activity" and dissuade new generations from taking an interest in this profession. 

The Pope did note, however, that statistics indicate a growth in the number of students enrolling in agricultural studies. 

Pope Francis went on to speak of two "critical areas" of reflection with regard to the farming profession: first, that of poverty and hunger which is still of interest to "a vast part of humanity."

Noting how the Second Vatican Council "recalled the universal destination of the goods of the earth" (cfr Cost. past. Gaudium et spes, 69), Pope Francis said, "in reality the dominant economic system excludes much of their correct use."

"The absolutizing of market rules, a throwaway culture" and food wastefulness of "unacceptable proportions, together with other factors, cause misery and suffering for many families," he said.

In order to consider the second "critical area" of reflection on the farming profession, the Pope continued, it is important to remember "man's call, not only to till the earth, but also to care for it." (Gen. 2:15).

"Every farmer knows well how it becomes more difficult to till the land at a time of accelerated climate change". 

Pope Francis stressed the importance of acting swiftly to care for creation, calling on nations to collaborate with one another in this goal.

He then then invited those present in the audience to "rediscover love for the earth as 'mother' – as Saint Francis would say – from which we have taken and to which we are called to constantly return."

Before bestowing his blessing on the participants, Pope Francis concluded by asking those present to pray for him.

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