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Pope’s Prepared Address to World Food Program Staff

‘Thanks to a small endeavor, a small sacrifice, your hidden sacrifice, small or great, so many children can eat, so much hunger is overcome.’

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After the address to the Assembly of the World Food Program, the Holy Father met in the garden of World Food Program’s (WFP) office in Rome with the organization’s dependents, their families and the children that frequent the nursery school, and he greeted them off-the-cuff.
Here is a Vatican-provided translation of the address he prepared beforehand.
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Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends, Good day! I am happy to be able to meet you in this simple and familiar setting, typical of the style with which you carry out your work in the service of so many of our brothers and sisters. In you, they see reflected that face of today’s world that is concerned for solidarity and mutual assistance. My thoughts also turn to your many colleagues throughout the world who cooperate with the World Food Program. I thank all of you for your warm and friendly welcome.
The Executive Director has told me of the important work which you do with great competence, generosity and no small sacrifice, often in situations that are challenging and insecure as a result of natural or human causes. The breadth and gravity of the problems addressed by the World Food Program demands your steady enthusiasm, unstinting commitment and constant readiness to serve. Together with continuing professional formation, great sensitivity and intuition, you are called to have a deep sense of compassion, without which everything else would lack real effectiveness and meaning.
The WFP has entrusted you with a lofty mission. The success of that mission depends in no small part on your ability not to get bogged down in bureaucratic details, but to bring initiative, imagination and professionalism to your daily work, as you seek new and effective ways to eliminate the malnutrition and hunger suffered by so many people throughout the world. They are pleading for our attention and concern. That is why it is important not to get weighed down by dossiers but to see, behind each of those papers, a real person with a real and often painful story. The secret is to see behind every dossier a human face in need of assistance. Hearing the cry of the poor will help you to avoid viewing each case in cold bureaucratic terms. We can never do enough to eliminate so terrible a phenomenon as hunger.
Hunger is one of the major threats to peace in our world. It is a threat that we cannot be content merely to deplore or to study academically. It has to be decisively faced and urgently resolved. Each of us, within his or her own area of responsibility, must do everything possible to bring about a definitive solution to this human tragedy, which degrades and shortens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters. When it comes to helping those are starving, none can be exempted or think they are excused because the problem is too big, or one that does not affect them.
Development – human, social, technical and economic – is the essential way to ensure that each person, family, community and people can meet its basic needs. This means that our work is not in the service of some abstract idea or the defense of some theoretical dignity, but aimed at protecting the life of each human being. In the poorest and most depressed areas, this means providing food in the case of emergencies, but also enabling access to funding and technical resources, employment and microcredit, and in this way ensuring that the local population increases its ability to respond to unexpected crises.
Here I am not referring simply to material matters. What is needed above all else is a moral commitment that makes it possible for me to feel responsibility for the person beside me, as well as for the overall goal of the program as a whole. You are called to advance and protect this commitment through a service that might appear at first glance to be exclusively technical in nature. Instead, what you are achieving are actions that call for a great moral strength, because they help build up the common good in each country and in the entire international community.
In the face of so many challenges and crises, it might appear that the future of humanity will simply involve facing ever new and interrelated problems and threats, unpredictable both in their extent and in their complexity. This is something you know quite well from your own experience. But it should not dishearten us. Encourage and help one another to avoid the temptation of discouragement or indifference. More importantly, believe firmly that your daily efforts are helping to give our world a human face and to make it into a place whose cardinal points are compassion, solidarity, mutual assistance and gratuity. The greater your generosity, your tenacity and your faith, the more will multilateral forms of cooperation be able to devise suitable solutions to these troubling problems. The more they will succeed in expanding shortsighted and selfish visions, in opening new paths to hope, a just human development, sustainability and efforts to close the gap of unjust economic inequalities, which so greatly harm the most vulnerable members of our human family.
Upon each of you and your families, and upon your contributions to the World Food Program, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
I ask all of you to pray for me, from the heart, or at least to wish me well. I need this very much. Thank you.
[Original text: Spanish] [Translation by the Vatican]  

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