People are starving; do we care?


Some 50 world leaders gathered in Rome last week at the Food Security Summit. Pope Benedict XVI sent his emissary, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who serves as the Vatican secretary of state, to bring his message to the august assembly.

The Holy Father stressed that the world is more than capable of providing enough food to those who hunger and that “hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world which has levels of production, resources and knowledge sufficient to put an end to such dramas and their consequences.”

Laying out the moral principles needed to address the situation, Pope Benedict suggested the chief cause of hunger is lack of solidarity. He called for greater collaboration among “organizations committed to closing the growing divide between rich and poor.” The Pontiff stressed that there is a “primary right to food” that is a direct result of “the safeguarding and defense of human life.” The protection of human dignity is paramount in any technological, economic or political solution to the global problem of world hunger. Pope Benedict stressed that if in addressing the problem, world leaders would take human dignity into account, “it would be possible to overcome otherwise-insurmountable obstacles, and to eliminate or at least diminish disinterest towards the good of others.”

The World Food Security Summit, hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, was not meant to produce a quick solution to such an endemic problem as global hunger. However, the world leaders would be foolish not to listen to the wise words of our Holy Father in addressing this global problem. No technological or agricultural solution from the world of science, no political or economic negotiations by world powers, can truly begin to address the wide scale tragedy of world hunger without considering the dignity of the human person. Without the clear moral principles of solidarity and respect for human dignity to guide them, world leaders are doomed to fail the hungry and malnourished of our world.

The problem is complicated and complex, but the beginning of a solution is simple and is found in the words of Christ: “For I was hungry and you gave me food.” The Church is united with world leaders to see these words lived out throughout the world.