Pope: World hunger is a scandal, an injustice, a violation of human rights, and a crime

Francis issues a message for the Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit. In it, he writes that to achieve "the goal of zero hunger, it is not enough to produce food. We need a new mindset and a new holistic approach.” For him, it is a question of "designing food systems that protect the Earth and keep the dignity of the human person at the centre” so as to “ensure sufficient food globally and promote decent work at the local level,” and thus “feed the world today, without compromising the future.”


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis sent a message to the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres on the occasion of the UN Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit, currently underway in Rome (26-28 July). The full summit is set for September in New York.

In it, the pontiff notes that hunger in a world that produces enough food for everyone is a "scandal", an "injustice", a "violation of human rights", and a "crime" that must be remedied “by strengthening local economies, improving nutrition, reducing food waste, providing healthy diets accessible to all,” while respecting the environment and local cultures.

In his message, read yesterday by Bishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, the Pope stresses that "this important meeting [. . .] once again underscores that one of our greatest challenges today is overcoming hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the era of COVID-19.”

As the world gets ready to go past the pandemic, Francis calls for action to overcome the “systemic injustices that undermine our unity as a human family. Our poorest brothers and sisters, and the Earth, our common home – which cries out for the damage we cause because of the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed in it –, require a change of course.”

"We produce enough food for everyone, but many remain without their daily bread. This ‘constitutes a genuine scandal’, a crime that violates fundamental human rights, [. . .] an injustice" that everyone "has a duty to eradicate through concrete actions, good practices, and courageous local and international policies. In this perspective, the careful and correct transformation of food systems plays an important role.”

Indeed, “it is essential to restore the central place of the rural sector, on which the satisfaction of many fundamental human needs depends”. To this end, it is “urgent that the agricultural sector regain a priority role in the political and economic decision-making process, aimed at outlining the framework of the post-pandemic 'restart' process that is being prepared. In this process, small farmers and farming families must be considered privileged actors.”

We need "a radical change”. It is not enough, in fact, to focus on technology to increase production on the planet if the result is that of “sterilising nature, [. . .] expanding the spiritual deserts, both outer and inner”. It is not enough to produce “enough food” if “many remain without their daily bread”. To achieve "the goal of zero hunger, it is not enough to produce food. We need a new mindset and a new holistic approach.”

It is a question of "designing food systems that protect the Earth and keep the dignity of the human person at the centre” so as to “ensure sufficient food globally and promote decent work at the local level,” and thus “feed the world today, without compromising the future.”

“We are aware that individual, self-centred and conflictual, yet powerful economic interests prevent us from designing a food system that respects the values of the common good, solidarity and 'culture of encounter'. If we want to maintain a fruitful multilateralism and a food system based on responsibility, justice, and peace, the unity of the human family is fundamental.” 

Families are in fact “an essential component of food systems" because it is within them that “one learns to enjoy the fruits of the Earth without abusing it.” It is in the family that "lifestyles that respect the personal and common good" are discovered. 

For the pontiff, everyone has "the responsibility to realise” the dream of “a world in which bread, water, medicines and work flow in abundance and reach the poorest first.” This is "a noble goal" which the Holy See and the Catholic Church will serve, offering their contribution, “uniting strengths and will, actions and wise decisions.”

Finally, let “no one be left behind,” let “every person be able to satisfy their basic needs,” may we be able “build a peaceful, prosperous society” based on true brotherhood.

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