Vatican City, 1 May 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father spoke at the inauguration of the Universal Exposition of Milan (1 May – 31 October 2015), on the theme “Feeding the planet, energy for life” via a video message transmitted life, in which he emphasises the importance of the event for giving a voice to the poor, globalising solidarity and defending the environment.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to unite my voice to those of you gathered here for this inauguration. It is the voice of the bishop of Rome, who speaks on behalf of the pilgrim People of God throughout the whole world; it is the voice of the many poor who form part of this people and with dignity seek to earn bread through their labours. I would like to be the spokesman for all these brothers and sisters of ours, Christians and also non-Christians, whom God loves as His sons and for whom he gave his life, breaking the brad that is the flesh of His Son made man. He teaches us to ask God the Father: 'Give us this day our daily bread'. EXPO is an opportune occasion to globalise solidarity”.
Recalling the importance of the theme of the EXPO, Francis emphasises that an issue so important and so essential cannot remain merely as a theme for the event, but must instead be accompanied by “an awareness of the faces of the millions of people who are hungry today, who will not eat today in a way worthy of a human being. I would like every person who comes to visit the EXPO of Milan, from today onwards, passing through those wonderful pavilions, to be able to perceive the presence of those faces. A hidden presence, but which ought in reality to be the true protagonist of the event; the faces of the men and women who are hungry, who become ill or even die as a result of inadequate or harmful diet”.
The “paradox of abundance” an expression used by St. John Paul II in his address to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) during the first Conference on Nutrition in 1992 “still persists, in spite of the efforts made and some good results. Even EXPO, in some respects, forms part of this paradox of abundance, if it conforms to the throwaway culture of waste, and does not contribute to an equitable and sustainable model of development. Therefore, let us ensure that EXPO provides the opportunity for a change of mentality, so that we stop thinking that our daily actions – at every level of responsibility – do not have an impact on the life of those, near and far, who suffer from hunger”.
The Pope comments also on the other 'faces' who play an important role in the Universal Exposition – those of the many workers and researchers in the food and agriculture sector. “May the Lord grant wisdom and courage to every one of them, as their responsibility is great”, he says, expressing his hope that all those who work in this field be “involved in a great project for solidarity: that of feeding the planet with respect for every man and woman who inhabit it, and with respect for the natural environment”. It is, he adds, “the great challenge that God presents to humanity in the twenty-first century: to finally stop abusing the garden God has entrusted to us, so that all may eat its fruits”.
“However, everything begins here: from a perception of those faces”, he concludes, “especially the most anonymous, the most hidden, that thanks to EXPO have earned bread to take home. May no-one be deprived of this dignity! And may no bread be the fruit of work unworthy of mankind! The Lord … is the true 'energy for life': the love to share bread, 'our daily bread', in peace and fraternity. And may no man or woman lack bread and the dignity of work”.