Benedict XVI's Message for World Food Day

«Access to Food Is a Fundamental Right of Persons and Nations»

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N.’s Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on the occasion of World Food Day.

The day, observed every year on Oct. 16, commemorates the anniversary of the foundation of the FAO in 1945. The theme for this year is: «Achieving Food Security in Times of Crisis.»
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To Mr. Jacques Diouf
Director General of FAO
If the celebration of World Food Day recalls the foundation of FAO and its action to combat hunger and malnutrition, it underscores above all the urgency and need to intervene in favor of all those who are deprived of daily bread in so many countries, due to the lack of adequate conditions of food security.
The present crisis, which goes across without distinction the whole of the sectors of the economy, affects particularly in a serious way the agricultural world, where the situation is dramatic. This crisis appeals to governments and to the different components of the international community to make determinant and effective choices.
To guarantee persons and nations the possibility of overcoming the plague of hunger means to ensure their concrete access to healthy and adequate nourishment. It is, in fact, a concrete manifestation of the right to life, which, though solemnly proclaimed, often continues to be far from full realization.
The topic chosen by FAO this year for World Food Day is «To Obtain Food Security in Times of Crisis.» This invites one to regard agricultural work as an essential element of food security and, therefore, as an integral component of economic activity. For this reason, agriculture must be able to have a sufficient level of investments and resources. This topic reminds one and makes one understand that the goods of the earth are limited by nature, and hence that they require behavior that is responsible and capable of fostering food security, also thinking of future generations. Needed are a profound solidarity and long-term fraternity.
The attainment of these objectives requires a necessary modification of lifestyles and ways of thinking. It obliges the international community and its institutions to intervene in a more adequate and determinant way. I hope that this intervention will foster a cooperation that protects the methods of cultivation proper to each area and avoids an inconsiderate use of natural resources. I also hope that this cooperation will safeguard the values proper to the rural world and the fundamental rights of the laborers of the earth. Leaving privileges, profits and comfort aside, these objectives will be able to be realized for the advantage of men, women, families and communities, which live in the poorest areas of the planet and which are, moreover, more vulnerable. Experience demonstrates that technical solutions, even the advanced, lack efficacy if they do not refer to the person, principal actor who, in his spiritual and material dimension, is the origin and end of all activity.
More than an elemental necessity, access to food is a fundamental right of persons and nations. It could be a reality and hence a security if an adequate development is guaranteed in all the different regions. In particular, the tragedy of hunger will be able to be overcome only by «eliminating the structural causes that cause it and by promoting the agricultural development of the poorest countries through investments in rural infrastructure, irrigation systems, transport, the organization of markets, formation and diffusion of appropriate agricultural techniques, capable of utilizing in the best way possible the human, natural and socio-economic resources accessible in the main at the local level» (Caritas in Veritate, n. 27).
The Catholic Church, faithful to her vocation to be close to the poorest, promotes, supports and participates in the efforts made to allow each nation and community to have the necessary means to guarantee an adequate level of food security.
With these wishes, I renew, Mr. Director General, my expressions of highest consideration, and invoke on FAO, on the member States and all its personnel abundant heavenly blessings.

In the Vatican, October 8, 2009

[Translation by ZENIT]
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