Pope Francis on Monday appealed to the international community not only to guarantee enough production and fair distribution of food for all but also to ensure the right of every human being to feed himself according to his needs without being forced to leave his home and loved ones.
He made the call at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, where he marked World Food Day, which this year has as its theme, “Change the future of migration. Invest in Food Security and rural development.” (Click here for the video of the Pope's FAO visit)
Conflicts and climate-change
Addressing the UN’s specialized agency that leads the international community’s fight against hunger and malnutrition in the world, the Pope urged governments to work together to end the conflicts and climate-change related disasters that force people to leave their homes in search of their daily bread. Delivering his speech in Spanish, the Pope cited the 2016 Paris climate accord, in which governments committed themselves to combatting global warming, he regretted that “unfortunately some are distancing themselves from it.”
He noted that negligence and greed over the world's limited resources are harming the planet and its most vulnerable people, forcing many to abandon their homes in search of work and food. He called for a change in lifestyle and the use of resources, adding it cannot be left for others to do.
A UN report in September pointed out that the number of chronically hungry people in the world was growing once more after a decade of decline because of ongoing conflicts and floods and droughts triggered by climate change. While the 815 million chronically undernourished people last year is still below the 900 million registered in 2000, the UN warned that the increase is cause for great concern.
Love, fraternity, solidarity
Describing population control as a “false solution” to tackling hunger and malnutrition in the world, Pope Francis said what is needed instead is a better management of the earth’s abundant resources and prevention of waste in food and resources. What is needed, he said, is a new model of international cooperation based on love, fraternity and solidarity that respond to the needs of the poorest. Pity, he pointed out, is limited to emergency aid, but love inspires justice that is needed to bring about a just social order.
As a token of his visit and message, Pope Francis gifted to the UN food agency a marble sculpture of Aylan, the three-year-old Syrian toddler of Kurdish origin, whose image in the media made global headlines after his body washed up on a Turkish beach in September 2015 after he drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. The Vatican explained that the sculpture featuring a weeping angel over the little boy's corpse, symbolized the tragedy of migration.