Pope Points to Need for Focus on Farming

Calls Individuals to Responsibility for World Hunger

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2010 (Zenit.org).- There is not enough emphasis on agriculture, says Benedict XVI, and thus economic imbalance arises and personal dignity is ignored.



The Pope affirmed this in a message today for the occasion of World Food Day, celebrated Saturday. The Pontiff described the world day as an "occasion to draw up a balance-sheet of all that has been achieved through the commitment of the Food and Agriculture Organization" and to "note the difficulties that are encountered when the necessary attitudes of solidarity are lacking."

The Holy Father affirmed: "Too often, attention is diverted from the needs of populations, insufficient emphasis is placed on work in the fields, and the goods of the earth are not given adequate protection. As a result, economic imbalance is produced, and the inalienable rights and dignity of every human person are ignored."

In this light, he said that the theme of this year's world day, "United Against Hunger," highlights that giving the agricultural sector its proper importance is everyone's responsibility.

"Everyone -- from individuals to the organizations of civil society, states and international institutions -- needs to give priority to one of the most urgent goals for the human family: freedom from hunger," he said.

Charity and truth

Benedict XVI called for "concrete initiatives" in this regard, "informed by charity and inspired by truth." He urged solutions to both man-made and natural obstacles, such as the cycle of seasons and environmental conditions.

The Pope lauded an international decision to protect the right to water. But he added that a united force against hunger implies overcoming poverty through "authentic human development, based on the idea of the person as a unity of body, soul and spirit."

He contrasted this vision with a concept of development limited to satisfying the material needs of the person.

"Amid the pressures of globalization, under the influence of interests that often remain fragmented, it is wise to propose a model of development built on fraternity: if it is inspired by solidarity and directed towards the common good, it will be able to provide correctives to the current global crisis," the Holy Father declared.

In this context, he set out for the FAO the "essential task of examining the issue of world hunger at the institutional level and proposing particular initiatives that involve its member states in responding to the growing demand for food."

And in this regard, the Bishop of Rome praised the "1 Billion Hungry" campaign, saying it "highlighted the need for an adequate response both from individual countries and from the international community, even when the response is limited to assistance or emergency aid. This is why a reform of international institutions according to the principle of subsidiarity is essential, since 'institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone.'"
 He continued: "In order to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, obstacles of self-interest must be overcome so as to make room for a fruitful gratuitousness, manifested in international cooperation as an expression of genuine fraternity. This does not obviate the need for justice, though, and it is important that existing rules be respected and implemented, in addition to whatever plans for intervention and programs of action may prove necessary.

"Individuals, peoples and countries must be allowed to shape their own development, taking advantage of external assistance in accordance with priorities and concepts rooted in their traditional techniques, in their culture, in their religious patrimony and in the wisdom passed on from generation to generation within the family."

Benedict XVI concluded by assuring the Church's willingness to work for the defeat of hunger. "Indeed," he said, "she is constantly at work, through her own structures, to alleviate the poverty and deprivation afflicting large parts of the world’s population, and she is fully conscious that her own engagement in this field forms part of a common international effort to promote unity and peace among the community of peoples."  --- --- ---

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-30661?l=english