· During his visit to the World Food Programme, the Pope points out that while arms move freely, aid and developmental plans are obstructed ·
The lack of food is not “the result of blind fate” but of a “selfish and wrong distribution of resources”. These were Pope Francis’ words during his visit to the headquarters of the World Food Programme (WFP), which he visited on Monday morning, 13 June, on the occasion of the opening of the annual session of the UN agency dedicated to the fight against hunger.
In his address to representatives of various governments from around the world, Pope Francis strongly warned against growing accustomed to the tragedies that afflict humanity, and seeing poverty “as a statistic rather than a reality”, forgetting that “poverty has a face! It has the face of a child; it has the face of a family; it has the face of people, young and old. It has the face of widespread unemployment and lack of opportunity. It has the face of forced migrations, and of empty or destroyed homes”.
The Pope reiterated that malnutrition “is not something natural, it is not a given, something obvious or self-evident”. It is, rather, the result of the “‘merchandizing’ of food” that generates exclusion and induces growing “accustomed to excess and to the daily waste of food”. However, Pope Francis warned, “we need to be reminded that food discarded is, in a certain sense stolen, from the table of poor and the starving”. He invited all to “reflect on the problem of unused and wasted food, and to identify ways and means which, by taking this problem seriously, can serve as a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with those most in need”.
He also made a strong appeal for “ debureaucratizing hunger”, and removing obstacles that prevent development plans and humanitarian initiatives from achieving their goals. The Pope particularly denounced the “strange paradox” in which the aid for victims of war and hunger is obstructed while arms “circulate with brazen and virtually absolute freedom in many parts of the world”. In this way, he said, “wars are fed, not persons”. Moreover, in some cases “hunger itself is used as a weapon of war”. The death count “multiplies because the number of people dying of hunger and thirst is added to that of battlefield casualties and the civilian victims of conflicts and attacks”. Pope Francis urged the State to increase “their commitment to cooperate with the World Food Programme”, and to allow for “sound projects and promote long-term development programmes”, so as to eradicate what Pope Francis called – in his next meeting with the personnel of the agency – “one of the major threats to peace in our world”.
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 22, 2019
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