Benedict XVI Aims at Roots of Food Crisis

Points to Plenty of Resources, But Problem of Perception

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says world hunger has its roots in a variety of issues that can be summarized by a false perception of the values that should regulate international relations.



The Pope affirmed that national selfishness, unbridled speculation, corruption, consumerism and arms races are consequences of this false perception. He said this in a message for World Food Day '08, sent to the director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This year's theme for the U.N. day, celebrated last Thursday, was "World Food Security: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy."

"The means and resources the world has at its disposal today could supply sufficient food to satisfy the growing needs of everyone," the Holy Father stated. "Why is it not possible, then, to avoid having so many people suffer so gravely from hunger that they find themselves facing the most extreme consequences?"

He suggested many causes, including "the unstoppable race to consume" and "the lack of a will from states to stop the selfishness of groups of nations."

In his message, read at the United Nations on Thursday by Holy See representative Monsignor Renato Volante, the Pontiff also asked for an end to the "unbridled speculation that impacts price and consumption mechanisms."

He observed that "the absence of correct management of food resources caused by corruption in public life and increasing investment in arms and sophisticated military technology has been detrimental to people's primary needs."

Behind everything, the Pope contended that there is a mistaken understanding of values that "only privileges the race for material goods, forgetting the true nature of the human person and his deepest aspirations," which causes little attention to be paid to the needs of the poor.

An effective campaign against hunger, he affirmed, demands more than scientific studies of climate change and the recognition of the need for local agriculture to focus on food production. Beyond this, there is a need to rediscover the value of the human person "in the individual and community dimensions."

Benedict XVI called for a "commitment to promoting effective social justice in relations among peoples" oriented by a sharing of goods, their sustainable use and a just distribution of their benefits.

The Pope called on the FAO to respond "in a solidary way with unconditional actions that will truly serve the common good."

The Pontiff's words were echoed by the FAO director-general, Jacques Diouf, who appealed to all countries to honor their commitments despite the global financial crisis.

He noted that at a summit held in Rome at the beginning of June, commitments were made to provide a total of $20 billion for the FAO to launch projects in 76 countries. Only 10% of the funds have been delivered.

"The food crisis still exists," Diouf said, "and if in 2007 the number of the hungry rose in a single year to 75 million people, for a total of 923 million, there is the danger that this number will rise again in 2008."