THE PRIMACY OF MAN, NOT PROFITS, MUST REIGN IN FIGHT AGAINST WORLD HUNGER

Inexplicable technical problems have plagued my entire afternoon and early evening but I have been able to post a few news stories on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420). For this column, given the late hour, I chose one story – the Pope’s visit to FAO – the United Nations’s Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organization. I wrote an opening paragraph and then selected excerpts from the papal speech and presented those, putting in italics some of his choice words to this UN body.

I attempted to post the story on my blog but both the blog and this Word document disappeared. I will try again to post this important story but will limit myself to just excerpts – using italics to highlight

THE PRIMACY OF MAN, NOT PROFITS, MUST REIGN IN FIGHT AGAINST WORLD HUNGER     

Pope Francis on November 20, 2014 to FAO: ”We live in a time in which the relations between nations are too often damaged by mutual suspicion, that at times turns into forms of military and economic aggression, undermining friendship between brothers and rejecting or discarding what is already excluded. He who lacks his daily bread or a decent job is well aware of this. … I hope that, in the formulation of these commitments, the States are inspired by the conviction that the right to food can only be ensured if we care about the actual subject, that is, the person who suffers the effects of hunger and malnutrition.” ”Nowadays there is much talk of rights, frequently neglecting duties; perhaps we have paid too little heed to those who are hungry. It is also painful to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by “market priorities”, the “primacy of profit”, which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation, also of a financial nature.

“Persons and peoples ask for justice to be put into practice: not only in a legal sense, but also in terms of contribution and distribution. Therefore, development plans and the work of international organisations must take into consideration the wish, so frequent among ordinary people, for respect for fundamental human rights and, in this case, the rights of the hungry.” ”Interest in the production, availability and accessibility of foodstuffs, climate change and agricultural trade should certainly inspire rules and technical measures, but the first concern must be the individual as a whole, who lacks daily nourishment and has given up thinking about life, family and social relationships, instead fighting for survival. St. John Paul II, in the inauguration in this hall of the First Conference on Nutrition in 1992, warned the international community against the risk of the ‘paradox of plenty’, in which there is food for everyone, but not everyone can eat, while waste, excessive consumption and the use of food for other purposes is visible before our very eyes. Unfortunately, this “paradox” remains relevant.”

”The second challenge to be faced is the lack of solidarity. Our societies are characterized by growing individualism and division: this ends up depriving the weakest of a decent life, and provokes revolts against institutions. When there is a lack of solidarity in a country, the effects are felt throughout the world.”

“Human beings, as they become aware of being partly responsible for the plan of creation, become capable of mutual respect, instead of fighting between themselves, damaging and impoverishing the planet. … A source of inspiration is natural law, inscribed in the human heart, that speaks a language that everyone can understand: love, justice, peace, elements that are inseparable from each other. Like people, States and international institutions are called to welcome and nurture these values, in a spirit of dialogue and mutual listening.

Every woman, man, child and elderly person everywhere should be able to count on these guarantees. It is the duty of every State that cares for the well-being of its citizens to subscribe to them unreservedly, and to take the necessary steps to ensure their implementation. This requires perseverance and support. The Catholic Church also offers her contribution in this field through constant attention to the life of the poor in all parts of the world” and “the Holy See is actively involved in international organizations and through numerous documents and statements” and “contributes to identifying and assuming the criteria to be met in order to develop an equitable international system.” If

“We believe in the principle of the unity of the human family, based on the common paternity of God the Creator, and in the fraternity of human beings. No form of political or economic pressure that exploits the availability of foodstuffs can be considered acceptable. But, above all, no system of discrimination, de facto or de jure, linked to the capacity of access to the market of foodstuffs, must be taken as a model for international efforts that aim to eliminate hunger.”