Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pope Benedict Speaks Out on Global Hunger

At last week's "High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bio-energy" held at FAO headquarters in Rome, the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., read out a message from Pope Benedict XVI in which the head of the Roman Catholic Church stated that

...hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world which has, in fact, levels of production, resources and knowledge sufficient to put an end to such dramas and their consequences.  The great challenge of today is to 'globalise', not just economic and commercial interests, but also the call for solidarity, while respecting and taking advantage of the contribution of all components of society.

The Pope went on to call on the 50 heads of State and government officials attending the conference to "collaborate in an increasingly transparent way with ... organisations committed to closing the growing divide between rich and poor" and to "continue with the structural reforms which, at the national level, are indispensable in order to face the problems of underdevelopment, of which hunger and malnutrition are direct consequences."

The Pope also stated that

Poverty and malnutrition are not a simple fatality, provoked by adverse environmental situations or by disastrous natural calamities, [and that] purely technical and economic considerations must not prevail over the duties of justice towards people suffering from hunger.

Referring to the current problem of rising prices of agricultural products, the Pope called for the drawing-up of "new strategies to fight against poverty and to promote rural development, ... through structural reform processes which enable the challenges posed by security and by climate change to be faced".

According to the Pope, modern technologies are not enough to meet shortfalls in food.  Rather, he stated, there is a global need for "political action which, inspired by those principles of natural law written in man's heart, protects the dignity of the individual. ... Only by protecting the person, then, is it possible to combat the main cause of hunger."

The Pope concluded his message by calling on the delegations gathered for the conference "to take on new commitments and set themselves to pursue them with great determination."


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