11/16/2009, 00.00
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Pope: A new conscience of solidarity to overcome world hunger

by Piero Gheddo
Speaking at the FAO International Summit, Benedict XVI said that technical solutions (investment, banking, justice, climate, markets ...) is not enough to help the more than one billion hungry. A conversion to solidarity is needed.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI's speech at the FAO, is a very brief overview of the many problems posed by hunger in the world. There is no easy and immediate solution to the tragedy of a billion and more hungry people. The pope is aware of this and avoids chasing easy platitudes and general accusations about the serious delay in the various "goals" that FAO had established in the recent past. On the one hand he recalls and clarifies his many exhortations on technical issues that we have already encountered in the recent "Caritas in Veritate" (international justice, rich countries investment in agriculture in poor nations, attention to climate change, access to international markets for poor economies, etc.). on the other he insists with particular strength and renewed approach the need to "redefine the concepts and principles that have hitherto governed international relations, in such a way as to answer the question: what can direct the attention and the consequent conduct of States towards the needs of the poorest? ".

The dramatic growth in the number of hungry people is a fact that regards not only world leaders but each and every man and woman, if they have formed a "consciousness of solidarity, which considers food and access to water as a universal right of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination". The pontiff praised the FAO for acting in this way, even enlarging "of the objectives of this right over and above the mere guarantee of satisfying primary needs." The Church has always been at the forefront in the fight against hunger and poverty, creating a "consciousness of solidarity." That is, he states: "only in the name of common membership of the worldwide human family can every people and therefore every country be asked to practise solidarity, that is, to shoulder the burden of concrete responsibilities in meeting the needs of others, so as to favour the genuine sharing of goods, founded on love".

An original speech, new to the environment of FAO, where the technical, economic and trade problems that abet the persistence of hunger in the world are debated, a hunger that has increased despite numerous projects, efforts, funding measures. Benedict XVI does not neglect the practical difficulties of those on the ground in the war against hunger. But in this discourse he is appealing in particular to the consciences of individuals, because he is convinced that the gap between the rich and poor of the world (developed and undeveloped) is so deep, that it cannot be bridged by a certain number of billions of dollars, although it must be made available to those who fight this one war worth fighting. We need a new consciousness of the people, especially young people, to become active participants and we can all help to form it.

The FAO summit is where many subjects and issues that concern governments, international organizations, banks, professional technicians are discussed, with the result that, in my opinion, the nations and individuals following these discussions are almost exclusively reduced to the role of spectators . They are interested but not affected or involved. And yet the scandal of a billion hungry people is a cry of anguish, a clear sign of the failure of the world that we all are helping to build and maintain. It is first and foremost a human problem, a billion men and women like us, not just a technical-economic problem. Pope Benedict thus sets out a "consciousness of solidarity" capable of being the driving force for a decisive breakthrough in the fight against hunger: " Acknowledgment of the transcendental worth of every man and every woman is still the first step towards the conversion of heart that underpins the commitment to eradicate deprivation, hunger and poverty in all their form".



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