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Pope Francis speaks to IFAD staff Pope Francis speaks to IFAD staff  (Vatican Media)

Pope to IFAD staff: Look for faces, not case studies

Pope Francis tells staff of the International Fund for Agricultural Development that God appreciates their work to eradicate poverty and hunger in rural areas of the world.

By Vatican News

Seventy-five percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas of developing countries. Addressing the 42nd annual Governing Council meeting of IFAD in Rome, on Thursday, Pope Francis pointed out how paradoxical it is that “a good part of the more than 820 million people who suffer hunger and malnutrition in the world, live in rural areas, are dedicated to food production, and are farmers”.

Going against the flow

Following that address, the Pope met with IFAD staff members and thanked them for their work “in the service of such a noble cause as the fight against hunger and poverty in the world”. He also thanked them “for going against the flow”.

“Today's trend sees a slowdown in the reduction of extreme poverty and an increase in the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few”, he said. “Few have too much and too many have too little”. The Pope described what he called “this perverse current of inequality” as being “disastrous for the future of humanity”.

Competence and sensitivity

Pope Francis acknowledged how “many needy and disadvantaged people, who survive with so much suffering on the peripheries of the world, benefit from your work”. These beneficiaries include disadvantaged children, women, and entire families.

The Pope went on to tell IFAD staff how, “in order to perform this type of service well, it is necessary to combine competence with a particular human sensitivity”. It is important to “cultivate the inner life”, he told them, “the feelings that open the heart and ennoble others”.

Putting God in everything

Pope Francis encouraged everyone working at the International Fund for Agricultural Development, not to lose hope, not to give in to resignation, “thinking that it is only a drop in the ocean”. We can inject enthusiasm into everything we do, “day by day, even in small things”, he said. This means "putting God in what we do", added Pope Francis: “because God never tires of doing good, of starting again. He never tires of giving hope”.

Looking for faces

Finally, the Pope urged IFAD staff always “to look for a face”, the faces of the people behind the case studies. “It is important not to stay on the surface”, he said, “but to enter into reality, to see the faces”.

The question to be asked, suggested Pope Francis, is "how much love do I put into the things I do now"? Those who love, he concluded, use their imagination: they can see solutions “where others see only problems”.

14 February 2019, 14:37