Pope to Visit U.N. Food Summit

Spokesman Underlines Urgent Need to Feed Hungry

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- On Monday, Benedict XVI will visit the headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, to speak on behalf of all people of the universal right to food.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, affirmed this today on Octava Dies, as he analyzed the reasons the Pope is taking part in the world summit for food security.

The Vatican spokesman referred to a sentence from «Caritas in Veritate» (n. 27): «It is therefore necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination.»

In this document, Father Lombardi said, the Pontiff «highlights the fact that the right to food is essential to guarantee the very right that is first among all, the right to life.»

«Yes,» he added, «because one either dies from hunger or thirst, or if one does not die one lives only half a life.»

The summit, said the priest, «is taking place in a scenario in which the tragedy is too often forgotten.»

He recalled: «In 2000 the famous Summit of the Millennium stated that the number of hungry people should be halved, of the 800 million at that time to 400 million in 2015; but in 2009 we have reached instead some 1.2 billion, a horrible tragedy, a strong impetus to migrations, a very grave threat to peace.»

«It is evident that the principal way to address the problem and foster agricultural development in the poorest countries, is to involve the local communities as much as possible, putting ‘the human person at the center of development,'» added Father Lombardi, quoting the Pope’s encyclical.

He continued: «This is in the interest of the world community, of the family of peoples that we should be. It should not be difficult for the participants in the summit of Rome to understand it.

«However, it will then be necessary to act in consequence. If not, the number of those dead by famine will increase again.»

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