05/01/2015, 00.00
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For the pope, the faces of hungry men and women should take centre stage at Expo

by Papa Francesco
Pope Francis today addressed via a televised link-up the opening ceremony of Expo Milano 2015 (1 May-31 October), the world fair centred on ‘Feeding the planet. Energy for Life’. For the Holy Father, this “Expo is a propitious opportunity to globalise solidarity. Let us not waste it; let us make the very most of it.” In his view, a change of mind-set is also needed to overcome the “paradox of abundance” and the culture of waste and castoffs. The pope’s full speech is reprinted below.

Milan (AsiaNews) – Here is the transcript of Pope Francis televised link-up address to the opening ceremony of Expo Milano 2015 (Translation by AsiaNews).

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

I am grateful for the opportunity to add my voice to those who gathered here for this inauguration. It is the voice of the Bishop of Rome, who speaks on behalf of the pilgrim people of God in the whole world. It is the voice of so many poor who belong to this people, who with dignity try to earn their (daily) bread by the sweat of their brow.

I would like to make myself the spokesman for all our brothers and sisters, Christians and non-Christians, children whom God loves and for whom He gave His life: He broke the bread, which is the flesh of his Son made Man; He taught us to ask God the Father, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ This Expo is a propitious opportunity to globalise solidarity. Let us not waste it; let us make the very most of it.

In particular, the theme of ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ brings us together. We must thank the Lord for this as well, for choosing such an important, essential issue . . . provided it does not remain only a "theme", provided that it is always accompanied by awareness of faces, the faces of the millions of people who are hungry today, who will not eat a meal worthy of a human being today.

As of today, I would like everyone who visits Expo Milano, as they walk through these wonderful pavilions, to feel the presence of those faces. It is a hidden presence, but one that ought to be the actual centre state of the event: the faces of men and women who are hungry, who get sick, and even die, from inadequate or even harmful food.

The "paradox of abundance" – as Saint John Paul II put it when he spoke before the FAO (Address to the Conference on Nutrition, 1992) – persists today despite all the efforts and some good results. Even this Expo, in some respects, would be part of the "paradox of abundance" if it goes along with the culture of waste and castoffs, and does not contribute to a model of equitable and sustainable development.

Thus, let us make sure that this Expo will be an opportunity to change our mind-set, that we will stop thinking that our daily actions – at all levels of responsibility – have no impact on the lives of those who are hungry, near or far – like so many men and women who suffer from hunger, especially the multitude of children who die of it in the world.

Other faces will have an important role at the Universal Exposition: those of the scores of food industry professionals and researchers. May the Lord grant each one of them wisdom and courage for great is their responsibility. I hope that this experience will allow entrepreneurs, merchants, and scholars to feel involved in a great project of solidarity, that of feeding the world, respectful of the natural environment as well as of every man and woman who lives in it.

This is a great challenge God has bestowed upon humanity in the 21st century, namely to stop, finally, the abuse of the Garden He has entrusted upon us, in order for everyone to eat its fruits. Taking on this great project gives full dignity to the work of those who produce and those who do food research.

It all starts there: seeing the faces. Hence, I cannot leave out the faces of all those who worked hard for Expo Milano, the nameless one especially, the ones who are hidden, who earned the bread they brought home thanks to Expo. May no one be denied this dignity! May no bread be the result of work unworthy of man!

May the Lord help us responsibly seize this great opportunity. May He, who is love, grant us the real ‘energy for life,’ namely the love to share bread, "our daily bread", in peace and brotherhood. May no man or woman be denied bread and the dignity of labour.

Thank you.

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