Alleviating Hunger Is an Expression of Right to Life, Says Pope

Message for World Food Day

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2002 ( Freeing people from hunger is an expression of the right to life and respect for human dignity, says John Paul II.

The Pope made this point in a message published today by the Vatican Press Office, addressed to Jacques Diouf, director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for World Food Day, Oct. 16.

The Holy Father began his message by recalling the commitments of the World Food Summit held in Rome last June.

He mentioned the need for “that basic freedom from hunger and access to adequate and healthy food which are primary expressions of the right to life and respect for human dignity, which are so often solemnly proclaimed but are still far from being a reality.”

“In fact, while humanity’s attainments offer the hope of a future more responsive to human needs, the world tragically remains divided between those who live in abundance and those who are lacking even what is essential for their everyday sustenance,” the Pope lamented.

“This situation constitutes one of the most obvious obstacles for building a society worthy of humanity, a world that is truly human and fraternal,” he stressed.

In analyzing the theme of the World Day to combat hunger, the Pope highlighted the importance of “water, source of food security,” and urged reflection “on the importance of water, without which individuals and communities cannot live.”

“It is necessary for the international community and its agencies to intervene more effectively and visibly in this area,” he said.

“In these efforts, the primary objective of the international community must be the well-being of those people — men, women, children, families, communities — who live in the poorest parts of the world and therefore suffer most from any scarcity or misuse of water resources,” he added.

“We are all aware that without attention to the fundamental principles of the ethical and moral order, principles rooted in the heart and conscience of every human being, this objective cannot be attained,” John Paul II continued.

“In fact, the order of creation and its delicate harmony are in danger of being irremediably compromised,” he said. “Biblical wisdom reminds us not to abandon the “source of fresh water and life” in order to “hew out broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

“We are reminded, in other words, that technical solutions, no matter how developed, are not helpful if they fail to take into account the centrality of the human person, who, in his spiritual and material dimensions, is the measure of all rights and therefore must be the guiding criterion of programs and policies,” the Holy Father emphasized.

“The first step in this effort,” he concluded, “is to regain a sustainable balance between consumption and available resources.”

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