Pope asserts 'right to food'
VATICAN CITY, OCT 16, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has written a Message to Jacques Diouf, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the occasion of World Food Day, an annual event organized by the FAO every October 16.
With the theme chosen for this year's Day, "the right to food," writes the Holy Father in his message, the FAO "is inviting the international community to face up to one of the most serious challenges of our time: freeing from hunger millions of human beings, whose lives are in danger because of a lack of daily bread."
"We must realize that the efforts made thus far do not seem to have significantly diminished the number of hungry people in the world," the Pope observes, "despite the fact that everyone recognizes that food is a primary right. ... The available data shows that the lack of fulfillment of the right to food is due not only to natural causes but, above all, to situations provoked by human behavior which lead to a generalized social, economic and human deterioration."
The Pope goes on to recall how "an ever greater number of people - because of poverty or bloody conflicts - find themselves obliged to abandon their homes and their loved ones in order to seek sustenance outside their own lands, Despite international agreements, many of them are rejected" he adds, highlighting the "pressing" need for a concrete undertaking in which "all members of society, both in the individual and the international spheres, feel committed to cooperating in order to make the right to food possible." The lack of fulfillment of this right, he says, "constitutes an evident violation of human dignity and of the rights deriving therefrom."
The Holy Father then goes on to praise the FAO's expert understanding of "the problems of the agricultural world and of food insecurity, and its proven capacity to present plans and programs for their solution" as well as the organization's "acute sensitivity to the aspirations of those calling for more human living conditions."
"The Catholic Church," he concludes, "feels closely involved ... in this task and, through her various institutions, wishes to continue collaboration in order to support the desires and hopes of those individuals and peoples towards whom the activity of the FAO is directed."