UN officials in Rome, Pope Francis stress ‘absolute necessity’ of ending hunger

20 June 2013

Decrying starvation in a world of plenty as “scandalous,” Pope Francis was joined today by the head of the United Nations Rome based-agricultural agency in urging countries to work together to eliminate hunger and poverty.

“It is a well-known fact that current levels of production are sufficient, yet millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous,” Pope Francis said during an audience at the Vatican with members of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and delegates attending the agency’s 38th Conference.

Pope Francis underlined that countries must “must move beyond indifference” and change policies that exclude the most vulnerable populations, exacerbating hunger and poverty.

Saying the global economic crisis could not “continue to be used as an alibi,” the pontiff added that “the crisis will not be completely over until situations and living conditions are examined in terms of the human person and human dignity.”

The Pope received the FAO delegates representing countries from every region of the world, including Mohammad Asif Rahimi, Chairperson of the FAO Conference, and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, as well as hundreds of representatives of FAO member countries.

“The fight against hunger must have no colour, no religion, no political affiliation,” Mr. Graziano da Silva said. “Ending hunger is absolutely necessary if we want a truly sustainable and more secure future. It makes political and economic sense, but morally and ethically, it is also the right thing to do.”

Mr. Graziano da Silva recalled that Pope Francis had spoken out on World Environment Day, observed earlier this month, against the culture of waste that leads to the loss of 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year.

“The pontiff said that it was ‘like stealing food from poor people,’ and he was right. But we are also squandering entire generations of lives to starvation, inadequate nutrition and poor health. And this is hurting us all,” he said.

Mr. Rahimi said the Pope’s message was inspiring, and noted that leaders of all religious faiths can mobilize governments, organizations, companies and communities to take action and defend the right to food of those who are most vulnerable.

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