06/20/2013, 00.00
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Pope: fighting hunger "through pursuit of dialogue and fraternity", overcoming "myopic economic interests"

Greeting participants at FAO conference, Francis calls the fact that millions of people not having enough to eat while food production is sufficient "a scandal". “Human person and human dignity are not simply catchwords, but pillars for creating shared rules and structures capable of passing beyond purely pragmatic or technical approaches in order to eliminate divisions and to bridge existing differences".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The fight against hunger "through research of dialogue and fraternity" in the face of the current economic crisis and its consequences - with the "scandal" of millions of people who have nothing to eat, while food production is sufficient - the answer lies focusing attention on the human person and his dignity "not simply as catchwords, but pillars for creating shared rules and structures capable of passing beyond purely pragmatic or technical approaches in order to eliminate divisions and to bridge existing differences. " This was the warning that Pope Francis made to the world, this morning in his address to participants at the 38th Session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), held in Rome from 15 to 22, received in Clementine Hall at the Vatican.

The current global crisis, in fact, says the Pope, " will not be completely over until situations and living conditions are examined in terms of the human person and human dignity. The human person and human dignity risk turning into vague abstractions in the face of issues like the use of force, war, malnutrition, marginalization, the violation of basic liberties, and financial speculation, which presently affects the price of food, treating it like any other merchandise and overlooking its primary function".

Put the person at the center of international action in the first place means countering" shortsighted economic interests and the mentality of power of a relative few who exclude the majority of the world's peoples, generating poverty and marginalization and causing a breakdown in society. There is likewise a need to combat the corruption which creates privileges for some and injustices for many others".

" Our present situation, while directly linked to financial and economic factors, is also a consequence of a crisis of convictions and values, including those which are the basis of international life. This is a larger framework which demands the undertaking of a conscious and sober work of rebuilding, one which also affects FAO. Here I am thinking of the reform the Organization has initiated to ensure a more functional, transparent and impartial operation. This is certainly something positive, yet every authentic reform involves an increased sense of responsibility on the part of everyone, in the realization that our individual fate is linked to that of others".

Francis, in this regard, recalls the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan, the meaning of which is "to be ready to share everything and choose to be good Samaritans rather than people indifferent to the needs of others."

"What is demanded of FAO, its member States, and every institution of the international community, is openness of heart. There is a need to move beyond indifference or a tendency to look the other way, and urgently to attend to immediate needs, confident that the fruits of today's work will mature in the future. To move forward constructively and fruitfully in the different functions and responsibilities involves the ability to analyze, understand, and engage, leaving behind the temptations of power, wealth or self-interest and instead serving the human family, especially the needy and those suffering from hunger and malnutrition".

"We are aware - he said then - that one of the first effects of grave food crises - and not simply those caused by natural disasters or violent conflicts - is the uprooting of individuals, families and communities. The separation is a painful one; it is not limited to their lands, but extends to their entire existential and spiritual environment, threatening and at times shattering their few certainties in life. This process, which is now taking place worldwide, demands that international relations once more be regulated by their underlying ethical principles and recover the authentic spirit of solidarity which can guarantee the effectiveness of every cooperative undertaking This is clearly seen in the decision to dedicate the coming year to the rural family. Apart from the celebrations themselves, it is necessary to reaffirm the conviction that every family is the principal setting for the growth of each individual, since it is through the family that human beings become open to life and the natural need for relationships with others".

"Acknowledging that the fight against hunger entails the pursuit of dialogue and fraternity means for FAO that its contribution to negotiations between States, giving new impulse to the decision-making processes, must be marked by the promotion of the culture of encounter and of solidarity. But this also calls for willingness on the part of the member States, a complete knowledge of particular situations, suitable preparation, and ideas which take into account every individual and every community. Only thus will it be possible to combine the thirst for justice experienced by billions of people with the concrete realities of today's world.

The Catholic Church, with all her structures and institutions, is at your side in this effort, which is aimed at building concrete solidarity, and the Holy See follows with interest and encourages the initiatives and activities undertaken by FAO. I thank you for this opportunity to meet you, and I bless the work which you carry out daily in the service of the least of our brothers and sisters



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