UN food agency chief thanks Pope Benedict XVI for supporting relief efforts
Pope Benedict XVI today received in private audience the head United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), who voiced appreciation for support the agency has received from the Catholic Church.
“It is a great honour to express in person my gratitude to His Holiness for his invaluable support in favour of the world’s hungry,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
“I hope that the already excellent collaborative work with the Catholic Church which, like WFP, is an institution with truly global reach, can be strengthened further.”
WFP works with a number of Catholic organizations, including Caritas Internationalis which, through its network of over 40 member organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, distributed 85,000 tonnes of food in 2006.
The agency also has partnerships with the Jesuit Refugee Service in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in Colombia, the Community of St. Egidio, and with many other Catholic-inspired NGOs, including the German Malteser Hilfsdienst, which works with WFP in Sudan and Myanmar.
“The moral authority of the Holy Father and his appeals for peace, justice and security are highly encouraging for us. We know we can always count on the partnership and precious help of Catholics and Catholic organizations,” said Ms. Sheeran.
During the war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the Vatican donated two ambulances to the Lebanese chapter of Caritas. The vehicles were sent to Beirut through the WFP-managed humanitarian response depot (UNHRD) in Brindisi.
Ms. Sheeran also thanked the Holy Father for mentioning, during his pastoral visit to Brazil, the WFP and the “Walk the World” march against hunger on 13 May.
During the audience, the WFP chief invited His Holiness to visit the agency’s headquarters in Rome.