The Pope said this in a letter sent today to Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N.’s Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
World Food 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.”
The Pontiff began his message by noting “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.”
He called the present global economic crisis, which affects the food security of the poorest nations, a situation that is “dramatic.”
“To guarantee persons and nations the possibility of overcoming the plague of hunger means to ensure their concrete access to healthy and adequate nourishment,” the Holy Father affirmed. “It is, in fact, a concrete manifestation of the right to life, which, though solemnly proclaimed, often continues to be far from full realization.”
Benedict XVI said agriculture is “an essential element of food security” and an “integral component of economic activity.”
“Agriculture must be able to have a sufficient level of investments and resources,” he added.
“The goods of the earth are limited by nature,” the Pope stated, “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.”
The Pontiff expressed his hope that any intervention on the part of the international community would protect “the methods of cultivation proper to each area,” avoid “an inconsiderate use of natural resources,” and “safeguard the values proper to the rural world and the fundamental rights of the laborers of the earth.”
Benedict XVI recalled that a project to improve food availability has less to do with “privileges, profits and comfort,” and more to do with “men, women, families and communities, which live in the poorest areas of the planet and which are, moreover, more vulnerable.”
“Experience demonstrates,” he noted, “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.”
“Access to food is a fundamental right of persons and nations,” he stated. “It could be a reality and hence a security if an adequate development is guaranteed in all the different regions.”
The Pope concluded by affirming that the 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.”