Vatican City, 17 October 2014 (VIS) – World Food Day, held on 16 October, was instituted in 1979 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in order to raise public awareness and strengthen solidarity in the fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. To mark the occasion, the Holy Father sent a message to the director general of the FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, extensive extracts of which are published below.
“Again this year, World Food Day echoes the cries of our many brothers and sisters who, in many parts of the world, do not have enough to eat each day. … Despite the progress that is being achieved in many countries, recent data continue to indicate a troubling situation, contributed to by the general reduction of public development aid”.
“The theme proposed by the FAO for this year's World Food Day – 'Family farming: feeding the world, caring for the earth' – highlights the need to begin with people, as individuals or in groups, to propose new forms and methods of management for different aspects of nutrition. Specifically, it is necessary to give greater acknowledgement of the role of the rural family, and to develop its full potential. ... Indeed, the family promotes dialogue between generations and provides the foundation for a true social integration, aside from representing that hoped-for synergy between agricultural work and sustainability; who, more than the rural family, is concerned with preserving nature for generations to come? And who, more than the rural family, has at heart cohesion between people and social groups?”
“Defending rural communities from the serious threats posed by human action or natural disasters must not merely be a strategy but rather a form of permanent action aimed at promoting their participation in decision-making, at making appropriate technologies available, and extending their use, always with respect for the natural environment. Acting in this way can alter the methods of international cooperation and aid for the hungry and malnourished. Never more than in this moment has the world needed unity between people and among nations to overcome the divisions that exist and the conflicts in progress, and above all to seek concrete ways out of a crisis that is global, but the burden of which falls mostly on the poor. … Think of the men and women, of every age and condition, who are victims of bloody conflicts and their consequent destruction and misery, the lack of housing, medical care and education, who lose every hope of a dignified life. We have an obligation towards these people, of solidarity and sharing”.
“To defeat hunger, it is not enough to meet the needs of those who are unfortunate or to help through aid and donations those who live in situations of emergency. It is necessary, instead, to change the paradigm of aid and development policies … It is also necessary to change how we understand work, economic aims and activity, food production and the protection of the environment. This is perhaps the only possibility for constructing an authentic future of peace, threatened nowadays by insecurity in relation to food”.
“The Catholic Church, on her part, while pursuing her charitable activities in the different continents, remains available to offer, enlighten and accompany both the elaboration of policies and their concrete implementation, aware that faith becomes visible by putting into practice God's plan for the human family and for the world through that profound and real fraternity that is not exclusive to Christians, but that includes all peoples”.