“I am honoured by your invitation and rejoice in your decision to convene this conference of representatives of States, international institutions, and organizations of civil society, the world of agriculture and the private sector, with the aim of studying together the forms of intervention necessary in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, as well as the changes that must be made to existing strategies.” … said the Pope
Pic from www.unmultimedia.org
Pope Francis observed that ‘development plans and the work of international organizations must take into consideration the wish so frequent among ordinary people, for respect for fundamental human rights and, in this case, the rights of the hungry. “Every woman, man, child and elderly person everywhere should be able to count on these guarantees. It is the duty of every State that cares for the wellbeing of its citizens to subscribe to them unreservedly, and to take the necessary steps to ensure their implementation. This requires perseverance and support.”
In the midst of repeated applause, the Pontiff thereafter recalled St. John-Paul IIs warning to the international community at FAO’s First Conference on Nutrition in 1992 against the risk of the “paradox of plenty”, in which there is food for everyone, but not everyone can eat, while waste, excessive consumption and the use of food for other purposes is visible before our very eyes. “The Church, as you know,” emphasized the Holy Father, “seeks always to be attentive and watchful regarding the spiritual and material welfare of the people, especially those who are marginalized or excluded, to ensure their safety and dignity.”
Pic from www.zimbio.com
The Pontiff assured the world assembly that the Catholic Church offers her contribution also through constant attention to the life of the poor in all parts of the world; along the same lines, the Holy See is actively involved in international organizations and through numerous documents and statements. In this way, it contributes to identifying and assuming the criteria to be met in order to develop an equitable international system. These are criteria that, on the ethical plane, are based on the pillars of truth, freedom, justice and solidarity; at the same time, in the legal field, these same criteria include the relationship between rights and food, and the right to life and a dignified existence, the right to be protected by law, not always close to the reality of those who suffer from hunger, and the moral obligation to share the economic wealth of the world.. But above all, concluded Pope Francis, no system of discrimination, de facto or de jure, linked to the capacity of access to the market of foodstuffs, must be taken as a model for international efforts that aim to eliminate hunger.
** Now retired here after three decades of U.N. service, Alex Van Arkadie of Sri Lanka tells me that he has been dreaming of this day from when Pope Francis of Argentina was Pronounced Head of the Church and when the FAO had elected FAO’s present Director-General from Brazil ! “May this lead to a new dawn for the marginalized everywhere” is Alex’s fervent wish.