At midday today [Nov. 22, 2007], the Pope received participants in the 34th general conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which has its headquarters in Rome.
In his English-language talk to the delegates, the Pope indicated that "all forms of discrimination, and particularly those that thwart agricultural development, must be rejected since they constitute a violation of the basic right of every person to be 'free from hunger.' These convictions are in fact demanded by the very nature of your work on behalf of the common good of humanity."
Benedict XVI highlighted the paradox of "the relentless spread of poverty in a world that is also experiencing unprecedented prosperity, not only in the economic sphere but also in the rapidly developing fields of science and technology."
Such obstacles as "armed conflicts, outbreaks of disease, adverse atmospheric and environmental conditions and the massive forced displacement of peoples," said the Pope, "should serve as a motivation to redouble our efforts to provide each person with his or her daily bread.
"For her part, the Church is convinced that the quest for more effective technical solutions in an ever-changing and expanding world calls for far- sighted programs embodying enduring values grounded in the inalienable dignity and rights of the human person," he added.
"The united effort of the international community to eliminate malnutrition and promote genuine development necessarily calls for clear structures of management and supervision, and a realistic assessment of the resources needed to address a wide range of different situations. It requires the contribution of every member of society – individuals, volunteer organizations, businesses, and local and national governments – always with due regard for those ethical and moral principles which are the common patrimony of all people and the foundation of all social life."
Benedict XVI continued his talk by saying that "today more than ever, the human family needs to find the tools and strategies capable of overcoming the conflicts caused by social differences, ethnic rivalries, and the gross disparity in levels of economic development."
"Religion, as a potent spiritual force for healing the wounds of conflict and division, has its own distinctive contribution to make in this regard, especially through the work of forming minds and hearts in accordance with a vision of the human person."
"Technical progress, important as it is, is not everything," the Pope told the FAO delegates. "Progress must be placed within the wider context of the integral good of the human person. It must constantly draw nourishment from the common patrimony of values which can inspire concrete initiatives aimed at a more equitable distribution of spiritual and material goods."
"This principle," he explained, "has a special application to the world of agriculture, in which the work of those who are often considered the 'lowliest' members of society should be duly acknowledged and esteemed."
In conclusion the Holy Father recalled how "FAO's outstanding activity on behalf of development and food security clearly points to the correlation between the spread of poverty and the denial of basic human rights, beginning with the fundamental right to adequate nutrition. Peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights are inseparably linked. The time has come to ensure, for the sake of peace, that no man, woman and child will ever be hungry again!"