Pope Benedict counsels FAO on reducing hunger amidst recession

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI


As the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) celebrated its anniversary today, Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to the group's director, Jaques Diouf. The Holy Father asserted in his message that truly helping man requires measures aimed at both his spiritual and material dimensions. Technology alone will not suffice, he said.

As it does on each of its anniversaries, the FAO observed World Food Day, which commemorates its founding on October 16, 1945. The theme of this year's day is: "Achieving food security in times of crisis."

Pope Benedict began his message to Diouf by reflecting on the current global economic crisis.

"The current crisis, which affects all sectors of the economy without distinction, strikes particularly seriously at the agricultural world where the situation has become dramatic," he said. "The crisis calls on governments and on the various components of the international community to make decisive and effective choices."

Defeating hunger, the Pope wrote, means ensuring people have "real access to adequate and healthy nourishment."

"This is, in fact, a concrete expression of the right to life which, though solemnly proclaimed, all too often fails to be fully implemented," he stressed.

Thinking about the theme for this year's World Food Day, Benedict XVI stated that "agriculture must be able to command a sufficient level of investment and resources." The theme also "helps us to understand that the goods of creation are by their nature limited, and hence they require responsible management capable of favoring food security, also with a view to that of future generations."

"Achieving this objective," the Pope noted, "calls for a modification in lifestyles and ways of thinking."

What is needed is "a form of cooperation that protects the cultivation methods of each area and avoids the thoughtless exploitation of natural resources."

Pope Benedict also pointed to the spiritual realm, writing that efforts to preserve natural resources should also safeguard "the values specific to the rural world and the fundamental rights of people who work the land."

The Pontiff also offered guidance for finding alleviating world hunger.

"Experience shows that technical solutions, advanced though they may be, are ineffective if they do not focus on the person, who remains the principle protagonist and who, in his spiritual and material dimension, is the origin and aim of all activity," he said.

Pope Benedict closed his message by recalling that access to food "is a fundamental right of individuals and peoples, and will become a reality, and hence a form of security, if adequate development is guaranteed in all the various regions.

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