Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Roman Catholic Pontiff to FAO summit: Empathy, moral business, lack of waste, access to fair markets: ways to reduce global hunger, "climate changes"

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Article by Marc Aupiais

The Roman Catholic Pontiff, recently portrayed access to markets, empathy with and respect for those with less, and preventing waste as sure ways forward in the fight against hunger, "climate change".

The FOA (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations [UN]), along with other ground-level players, have increasingly emphasized local production over imported food aid, and a need to stimulate local markets, and educate farmers, and built infrastructure in food insecure areas. The majority of infrastructure, at least in the case of systems such as railways, on the African continent, is in one country: the Republic of South Africa, which itself does not spend enough on infrastructure in general.

The following will be a quotation (with paragraphing added), of the Vatican's Missionary News Service, Agenzia Fides, which notes a speech by the Roman Catholic Pontiff to a summit hosted by the the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Quoting their article does not mean endorsement of the organization or their article, we provide this quotation in the interest of the public:



VATICAN - Holy Father tells FAO Summit: “Hunger is the most cruel and concrete sign of poverty. Opulence and waste are no longer acceptable when the tragedy of hunger is assuming ever greater proportions.”

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - “Hunger is the most cruel and concrete sign of poverty. Opulence and waste are no longer acceptable when the tragedy of hunger is assuming ever greater proportions.” This is what the Holy Father Benedict XVI said in his address on November 26 at the FAO headquarters in Rome, on the opening of the World Summit on Food Security.

In his address, the Pope recalled that although “statistics bear witness to the dramatic growth in the number of people suffering from hunger,” it has also been confirmed that “the world has enough food for all its inhabitants” and that “there is no cause-and-effect relationship between population growth and hunger.” Reiterating what he had affirmed in his Encyclical Caritas in veritate, Benedict XVI mentioned that “the problem of food insecurity needs to be addressed within a long-term perspective, eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development of poorer countries,” and “the need to oppose those forms of aid that do grave damage to the agricultural sector, those approaches to food production that are geared solely towards consumption and lack a wider perspective, and especially greed, which causes speculation to rear its head even in the marketing of cereals, as if food were to be treated just like any other commodity.”

The Pontiff then reflected on the “weakness of current mechanisms for food security and the need to re-examine them,” highlighting that the concept of cooperation should be coherent with the principle of subsidiarity. “With regard to countries that are in need of external support, the international community has the duty to assist with the instruments of cooperation, assuming collective responsibility for their development,” the Pope said. “In this way, cooperation must become an effective instrument, unbeholden to interests that can absorb a not insignificant part of the resources destined for development.” 

Benedict XVI also mentioned the risk of considering hunger “as structural, an integral part of the socio-political situation of the weakest countries, a matter of resigned regret, if not downright indifference.” “It is not so, and it must never be so!” the Pope exclaimed, saying that it was essential to “start redefining the concepts and principles that have hitherto governed international relations,” as “only in the name of common membership of the worldwide human family can every people and therefore every country be asked to practice solidarity, that is, to shoulder the burden of concrete responsibilities in meeting the needs of others, so as to favor the genuine sharing of goods, founded on love.”

To eliminate hunger, international action cannot limit itself to “international action is needed not only to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth and political stability, but also to seek out new parameters – primarily ethical but also juridical and economic ones – capable of inspiring the degree of cooperation required to build a relationship of parity between countries at different stages of development.”

In the second part of his address, the Holy Father indicated several necessary steps to take to combat hunger, promoting an integral human development: not view the rural world as something of secondary importance; favor access to the international market of products from the poorest areas; separate the rules of international trade from the logic of profit viewed as an end in itself. “Nor must the fundamental rights of the individual be forgotten, which include, of course, the right to sufficient, healthy and nutritious food, and likewise water; these rights take on an important role in the realization of others, beginning with the primary one, the right to life.” 

Methods of food production likewise demand attentive analysis of the relationship between development and protection of the environment, as “the desire to possess and to exploit the resources of the planet in an excessive and disordered manner is the primary cause of all environmental degradation.” In this sense, the interaction between environmental protection and climate changes are further examined and the human person, especially the most vulnerable populations, are placed at the heart of both phenomena. 

“Norms, legislation, development plans and investments are not enough, however: what is needed is a change in the lifestyles of individuals and communities, in habits of consumption and in perceptions of what is genuinely needed. Most of all, there is a moral duty to distinguish between good and evil in human action, so as to rediscover the bond of communion that unites the human person and creation,” the Pope warned.

In concluding his address, Benedict XVI mentioned the Church's commitment, without interfering in political decisions: “she respects the knowledge gained through scientific study, and decisions arrived at through reason responsibly enlightened by authentically human values, and she supports the effort to eliminate hunger. This is the most immediate and concrete sign of solidarity inspired by charity, and it brooks neither delay nor compromise.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 17/11/2009)"

(Agenzia Fides / Fides Service (Catholic; Hierarchical; Vatican Based) 17 / 11 | November / 2009)

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