VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States call for more urgent commitment to ending the problem of poverty and particularly hunger in the world.
The Holy Father stressed this today in a message to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The letter was read at FAO headquarters in Rome, on the occasion of World Food Day.
“Those tragic events exhort us to look with special attention to a more profound motivation for a common commitment to the poor,” the Pontiff said in his message, which was read by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Vatican permanent observer at FAO.
In the letter addressed to FAO Director General Jacques Diouf, the Bishop of Rome said, “The problem of hunger, which affects more than 800 million people, of whom 200 million are children, is one of the most acute of our time.”
The papal words resounded in FAO´s plenary hall, crowded with delegates and world personalities, to celebrate the day, whose motto is “Combat Hunger to Reduce Poverty.”
The Pope appealed for the commitment of all countries in addressing this challenge at the next World Summit on Food. The summit has been postponed until next year because of the terrorist attacks and anti-globalization protests.
John Paul II encouraged the leaders of countries to commit themselves to reduce by half the number of people who suffer hunger, in the period 2001-2016, as established five years ago at the Rome summit on hunger.
The struggle against hunger is not lost, FAO´s director general said, despite the group´s failure to reduce the ranks of the malnourished by 20 million a year, as it hoped.
Diouf noted that poverty and hunger form a vicious circle. Hunger is one of the principal causes of poverty and vice versa, as “a hungry nation cannot grow or prosper,” he said.
During World Food Day celebrations, the FAO conferred the Ceres medal on Queen Fabiola of Belgium for her work to end world hunger.