Pope Francis received in audience 7,000 volunteers from the Food Bank Foundation, established 25 years ago by Italian businessman Danilo Fossati and Don Giussani, founder of Communion and Liberation, to combat food waste, recovering and distributing food among the poor and families in need.
In his address to them, Francis underlined that hunger has now assumed the dimensions of a true scandal that threatens the life and dignity of many people: men and women, children and the elderly. “Every day we must face this injustice: in a world rich in food resources, thanks also to enormous technological progress, there are too many people who do not have the essentials for survival; and this is true not only of poor countries, but increasingly so in rich and developed societies. The situation is aggravated by the increase in migratory flows, which bring thousands of refugees to Europe, fleeing their countries and in need of everything. In the face of such an immeasurable problem, Jesus’ words resonate: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food’. We see in the Gospel that the Lord, when He realises that the crowd that has come to listen to Him is hungry, does not ignore the problem, nor does He give a good speech on the fight against poverty; instead He performs a gesture that leaves everyone astonished. He takes the little that the disciples have brought with them, He blesses it, and He multiplies the bread and fishes, so that in the end ‘they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.’”
“We cannot perform a miracle as Jesus did; however we can do something when faced with the emergency of hunger, something useful, that also has the power of a miracle. First of all we can educate ourselves in humanity, in recognising the humanity present in every person, in need of everything. This is perhaps what Danilo Fossati, entrepreneur in the food sector and founder of the Food Bank, was thinking of when he confided to Don Giussani his unease at seeing the destruction of products that could still be consumed, when so many people in Italy suffered from hunger.”
The bishop of Rome remarked that the Foundation has its roots in the heart of those two men who were not indifferent to the cry of the poor and “understood that something needed to change in the mentality of the people, that the walls of individualism and selfishness had to be broken down. … Jesus Himself invites us to make space in our heart for the urgency of feeding the hungry, and the Church has made it one of the works of corporal mercy.”
Finally, commenting that the Food Bank volunteers encounter hundreds of people every day, the Pope reminded them of the need to remember that they are “people and not numbers, each one with his or her burden that at times seems impossible to bear.” “Always keeping this in mind, you will be able to look them in the eye, to hold their hand, to see the flesh of Christ in them and to help them regain their dignity and get back on their feet. I encourage you to be brothers and friends to the poor; to let them feel that they are important in God’s eyes,” he said.
— — —
On ZENIT’s website:
For the English translation of the Pope’s address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-members-of-food-bank-foundation