FIle photo of Pope Francis visiting FAO's Headquarters in Rome in 2017 for World Food Day FIle photo of Pope Francis visiting FAO's Headquarters in Rome in 2017 for World Food Day  (ANSA)

Pope to all nations: Work to eradicate the scourge of hunger

Pope Francis appeals for "joint, multilateral action" on the part of all nations and organizations "to eradicate the scourge of hunger" starving millions worldwide. His message is addressed to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization's 43rd Session, taking place in Rome, 1-7 July.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

All nations and the international community must commit themselves to eradicating the scourge of hunger.

Pope Francis made this appeal in the message he sent to participants in the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization's 43rd session taking place in Rome, 1 - 7 July 2023. 

In the Pope's message, dated 1 July and written in Spanish, he cordially greeted all the conference's participants, and encouraged the FAO's Director-General to continue his commitment, "at a time when decisive and competent action to eradicate the scourge of hunger in the world is inescapable."

"The challenge we face," the Pope observed, "is joint and collaborative action by the entire family of nations."

“There can be no room for conflict or opposition, when the enormous challenges at hand require a holistic and multilateral approach.”

Only if FAO and the other international organisations adopt and implement "a synergy of consensual and far-sighted thinking on the part of all the actors concerned," the Pope said, will they be effective in fulfilling their mandate. 

This requires, he said, governments, businesses, academia, international institutions, civil society and individuals making "a joint effort" and "leaving aside petty logic and biased visions, so that everyone benefits, and no one is left behind."

Serious violations of human dignity

The Pope decried that millions of people worldwide continue to suffer from malnutrition, citing armed conflict and climate change, with its resulting natural disasters, as key culprits.

"Mass displacement, along with other effects of global political, economic and military tensions," he said, "undermine efforts to ensure that people's living conditions are improved on the basis of their inherent dignity."

“It bears repeating time and again: poverty, inequalities, lack of access to basic resources such as food, drinking water, health, education, housing, are a serious offence to human dignity!”

The Pope acknowledged that experts say that the goal of 'Zero Hunger' will not be achieved within the timeframe set by the international community, and warned against letting this inability to meet common responsibilities, lead to revisions of programmes which "do not take into account the real needs of the people."

In this context, he called for always showing the utmost respect of and care for local communities, cultural diversity and traditional specificities, which, he stressed, "cannot be altered or destroyed in the name of a short-sighted idea of progress which, in reality, risks becoming synonymous with 'ideological colonisation.'"

Cannot impose from above

For this reason, the Pope insisted, interventions and projects must be planned and implemented in response to people and their communities' demands, which are not "imposed from above" nor "seeking their own interests" or "profit."

Appealing for all to do their part, the Holy Father reassured that the Holy See "will continue to offer its contribution to the common good," through the work and experience of the Catholic Church's institutions, "so that no one in our world lacks daily bread and our planet is given the protection it requires."

Pope Francis concluded praying that Almighty God richly bless FAO's labours and efforts "for the true progress of the whole human family."

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03 July 2023, 12:25