* * *
To Mr. Jacques Diouf
Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
In this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture, the celebration of World Food Day reminds us that hunger and malnutrition are, unfortunately, among the most serious scandals that still affect the life of the human family, which makes all the more urgent the action undertaken, under your management, by FAO.
The millions of people whose very lives are threatened, because they are deprived of a minimum of the necessary nourishment, call for the attention of the International Community, because we all have the duty to take care of our brothers. In fact, famine does not depend only on geographic and climatic situations or on unfavorable circumstances linked to harvests. It is also caused by man himself and by his egoism which is translated in deficiencies in the social organization, the rigidity of economic structures too often geared only to profit, and also practices against human life and ideological systems that reduce the person, deprived of his fundamental dignity, to be but an instrument.
True global development, organized and integral, which is desired by all, calls on the contrary to know in an objective manner the human situations, to define the true causes of poverty and to provide concrete answers, with an appropriate formation of persons and communities as a priority. Thus the authentic freedom and responsibility will be activated, which are proper to human action.
The theme chosen for this Day, \"Agriculture and Dialogue of Cultures,\" invites to consider dialogue as an effective instrument to create the conditions of food security. Dialogue calls for combining the efforts of persons and nations, for the service of the common good. Convergence among all the actors, associated to an effective cooperation, can contribute to build \"true peace,\" allowing to overcome the recurrent temptations of conflict because of different cultural views, ethnic groups or levels of development.
It is also important to be directly attentive to human situations, in order to maintain the diversity of models of development and of forms of technical assistance, according to the particular conditions of each country and community, whether the conditions are economic or environmental or even social, cultural and spiritual.
Technical progress will not be really effective unless it finds its place in a wider perspective, where man occupies the center, concerned with taking into account the totality of his needs and aspirations, because, as Scripture says, \"man does not live by bread alone\" (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). This will also allow all peoples to draw from their patrimony of values, to share their own riches, both spiritual and material, for the benefit of all.
The ambitious and complex objectives that your Organization sets for itself will not be able to be attained unless the protection of human dignity, origin and end of fundamental rights, becomes the criterion that inspires and orients all efforts. The Catholic Church, which also participates in actions geared to really harmonious development, in collaboration with the partners present in the field, wishes to encourage the activity and efforts of FAO so that it will inspire, at its level, a true dialogue of cultures and thus contribute to enhance the capacity to feed the world population, in respect of biodiversity. In fact, the human being must not imprudently compromise the natural balance, fruit of the order of creation, but, on the contrary, must watch over the transmission to future generations of an earth capable of feeding them.
In this spirit, I pray to the Almighty to bless the very necessary mission of FAO and the commitment of its directors and employees, in view of guaranteeing daily bread to each member of the human family.
From the Vatican, 12 October 2005
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
[Original text: French; translated by ZENIT]