Pope Francis met this morning with participants gathered in Rome for the 38th Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Holy Father thanked them for work in responding to those most in need in “receiving their daily bread and finding a dignified place at the table.”
Referring to a conversation with Prof. Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the FAO, the Holy Father stated that the difficult circumstances many people find themselves in is not only due to the current economic crisis, but also due to problems associated with security, continuing conflicts, climate change, and the preservation of biological diversity.
“All these situations,” the Pope said, “demand of FAO a renewed commitment to tackling the many problems of the agricultural sector and of all those living and working in rural areas.
The initiatives and possible solutions are many, nor are they limited to increasing production.”
Pope Francis went on to say that while current levels of production are sufficient, millions continue to perish from starvation, an act he said was “truly scandalous.” The Holy Father called on the international community to find a way for everyone “to benefit from the fruits of the earth.”
The Fight for Human Dignity
The 76 year old Pontiff emphasized the need for an evaluation of the current living situation that places the human person and human dignity at the forefront.
“This, I believe, is the significance of our meeting today: to share the idea that something more can and must be done in order to provide a new stimulus to international activity on behalf of the poor, inspired by something more than mere goodwill or, worse, promises which all too often have not been kept,” the Pope said.
In the face of war, famine, marginalization and the violation of basic liberties, he said, “the human person and human dignity risk turning into vague abstractions.” Human dignity should be instead the “pillars for creating shared rules and structures capable of passing beyond purely pragmatic or technical approaches in order to eliminate divisions and to bridge existing differences.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis told the FAO participants that the Catholic Church will continue to support them in their work of addressing the needs of the poor and suffering. “The Catholic Church, with all her structures and institutions, is at your side in this effort, which is aimed at building concrete solidarity, and the Holy See follows with interest and encourages the initiatives and activities undertaken by FAO,” Pope Francis said.