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Thursday, June 20, 2013


Vatican City, 20 June 2013 (VIS) – At 11:00 this morning, in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic palace, the Holy Father Francis received the participants in the 38th Session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Pope began by speaking of the particular difficulty of the current worldwide situation caused not only by the economic crisis “but also due to problems associated with security, the great number of continuing conflicts, climate change and the preservation of biological diversity. All these situations 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 Pope noted that there are many possible initiatives and solutions and that they don't only have to do with increasing production seeing that current levels of production are sufficient, in spite of which “millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth ... to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness, and respect for every human being.”

Francis repeated that the goal of meeting with the participants in the FAO conference was “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.” If current situations and living conditions aren't examined in terms of the human person and human dignity, the Pope said, then they run the risk of “risk turning into vague abstractions in the face of issues like the use of force, war, malnutrition, marginalization, the violation of basic liberties, and financial speculation, which presently affects the price of food, treating it like any other merchandise and overlooking its primary function.”

The Holy Father declared that the present situation, “while directly linked to financial and economic factors, is also a consequence of a crisis of convictions and values, including those which are the basis of international life.” He, therefore, asked the FAO, its member States, and the entire international community to open their hearts. “There is a need to move beyond indifference and a tendency to look the other way, and urgently to attend to immediate needs … leaving behind the temptations of power, wealth, or self-interest and instead serving the human family, especially the needy and those suffering from hunger and malnutrition.”

Likewise, the Pope mentioned that dedicating the coming year to the rural family was a very expressive decision that, beyond a mere commemoration, will be an occasion to “reaffirm the conviction that every family is the principal setting for the growth of each individual, since it is through the family that human beings become open to life and the natural need for relationships with others.”

Pope Francis noted that “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 the FAO.”

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