VATICAN CITY, NOV. 24, 2005 ( Benedict XVI is concerned about the "worrisome paradox" of an increase in world hunger at a time of technological and economic progress.

The Pope expressed his concern today to the participants in the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conference and other officials.

After defending "the basic right of each person to be 'free of hunger,'" the Holy Father recognized that "[h]umanity is presently experiencing a worrisome paradox: Side by side with ever new and positive advances in the areas of the economy, science and technology, we are witnessing a continuing increase in poverty."

To put an end to this contradiction, the Pontiff supported the "dialogue of cultures, a specific means of ensuring greater development and secure access to food."

"Today more than ever, there is a need for concrete, effective instruments for eliminating the potential for conflict between different cultural, ethnic and religious visions," he said.

Wars, in fact, are one of the main reasons for hunger, the Rome-based FAO had repeatedly stated.

Benedict XVI concluded by noting: "There is a need to base international relations on respect for the person and on the cardinal principles of peaceful coexistence, fidelity to commitments undertaken and mutual acceptance by the peoples who make up the one human family.

"There is likewise a need to recognize that technical progress, necessary as it is, is not everything. True progress, is that alone which integrally safeguards the dignity of the human being and which enables each people to share its own spiritual and material resources for the benefit of all."