Monday, November 16, 2009

Luxury, waste are unacceptable when hunger is on the rise, says pope

POPE-FAO Nov-16-2009 (560 words) xxxi

Luxury, waste are unacceptable when hunger is on the rise, says pope

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- Opulence and waste are unacceptable especially when hunger -- the cruelest form of poverty -- continues to rise, Pope Benedict XVI told world leaders at a summit on food security.

The pope condemned the greed that fuels speculation on food prices, aid that debilitates agricultural production, and excessive exploitation of the earth's resources.

Pope Benedict spoke Nov. 16 during the opening session of the United Nations' World Summit on Food Security.

The Nov. 16-18 conference, hosted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, brought together leaders and delegates from countries around the world to find concrete solutions to end the scourge of hunger and malnutrition and find ways to stabilize food prices.

According to the FAO, more than 1 billion people are undernourished and one child dies every six seconds because of malnutrition.

"Hunger is the most cruel and concrete sign of poverty," the pope said in his address to summit leaders. "Opulence and waste are no longer acceptable when the tragedy of hunger is assuming ever greater proportions."

"Norms, legislation, development plans and investments are not enough, however; what is needed is a change in the lifestyles of individuals and communities, in habits of consumption and in perceptions of what is genuinely needed," Pope Benedict said.

The transcendental worth of every human being must be recognized if there is to be "the conversion of heart that underpins the commitment to eradicate deprivation, hunger and poverty in all their forms," he said.

The pope said the growing number of hungry people in the world is not directly linked to an increase in world population.

There is enough food to feed the world, he said, adding that food shortages are caused by the rising price of foodstuffs, "the reduction in economic resources available to the poorest peoples and their limited access to markets and to food."

"The lamentable destruction of foodstuffs for economic gain" is more proof that "there is no cause-and-effect relationship between population growth and hunger," he said.

Pope Benedict called for greater action in creating "a network of economic institutions capable of guaranteeing regular access to sufficient food and water."

Countries must "oppose those forms of aid that do grave damage to the agricultural sector, those approaches to food production that are geared solely towards consumption and lack a wider perspective, and especially greed, which causes speculation to rear its head even in the marketing of cereals, as if food were to be treated just like any other commodity," he said.

Not enough is being done to lift people out of poverty because some people exhibit "resigned regret, if not downright indifference" to the plight of others and tend to believe hunger is just part and parcel of life in certain countries, he said.

Everyone has a moral responsibility to show solidarity toward the rest of the human family and concretely meet the needs of others "so as to favor the genuine sharing of goods, founded on love."

The fundamental right to life depends on the right to sufficient, healthy and nutritious food and safe drinking water, he said.

At the end of his address, the pope -- speaking in Arabic, Chinese, Russia, English, French and Spanish -- thanked the FAO and its member states for their efforts "to ensure that all people are given their daily bread."

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