Addressing the 37th annual conference on hunger of the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization on July 1, Pope Benedict XVI stressed the need for global food security to stem the growing tragedy of world malnourishment.
As the primary victims of this scourge, Benedict said, millions of undernourished children facer developmental delays and shortened lifespans. Many must submit to exploitation in order to obtain subsistence-level nourishment.
He also noted that international aid is too often limited to states of emergency, “but there must be a coherent concept of development…favouring long-term goals.”
Calling for the reaffirmation of the value of rural agricultural communities, the return of young people to agricultural communities and renewed respect for the stable economic unit of the family farm, he said, “The rural family is a model, not only of work but of life, and a concrete expression of solidarity, in which the essential role of woman is confirmed.”
Benedict used the occasion of his address to speak out against self-serving profit-based economic models that foster speculation in commodities, thereby contributing to today’s near-record high global food prices and rowing world hunger. In 2010, the FAO put the number of hungry people at 925 million, the vast majority living in developing countries.
Benedict said the appropriation and exploitation of world resources by a few is antithetical to God’s command to Adam in the Garden of Eden to care for and cultivate the earth.