“Give food to those who are dying of hunger because if you do not, you shall have killed them,” (Pope Benedict XVI)
This article speaks for itself, especially the statement by the head of World Council of Churches: “Human actions that are driven by greed have created poverty, hunger and climate change. Humanity must be challenged to overcome its greed.” (Rev. Samuel Kobia)
Ecumenical News International / 5 June 2008
By Peter Kenny
Rome, 5 June (ENI)--The world converged on Rome this week for an international summit on food and security, with some countries using it as a political platform, but the message from churches and faith communities was unequivocal: feed the hungry.
“Give food to those who are dying of hunger because if you do not, you shall have killed them,” warned Pope Benedict XVI in a message to the Food and Agriculture Organization that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, read at the Rome headquarters of the UN body dealing with food and agriculture.
The 3 to 5 June FAO summit sought to tackle skyrocketing food prices, and food shortages, as well as farming problems in some cases attributed to climate change as well as the use of grains in bio-fuel production, and rising energy consumption in emerging economies.
“Ensuring food security for all of the world’s people is among the greatest challenges facing humanity in the early years of the 21st century,” the Geneva-based World Council of Churches said in a statement commenting on the Rome summit.
“The WCC views the primary cause of the current crisis as inappropriate human actions, which have induced climate change and skyrocketing food prices,” declared the WCC general secretary, the Rev. Samuel Kobia. “Human actions that are driven by greed have created poverty, hunger and climate change. Humanity must be challenged to overcome its greed.”
The WCC head said that churches have an essential role to play on this issue, and to be effective they must face the global food crisis together.
Meanwhile, and commenting further on the general issue of global food and security, WCC general secretary Kobia commented, “While churches and agencies of Christian witness have provided important services in the past, there is so much more that we could achieve. Individually and collectively, the time has come for churches to reassess and strengthen their policies of advocacy and support in addressing this crisis.”
Sushant Agrawal, director of the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action in India, said, “If God’s will was done, no one would go hungry.” Agrawal, who is also the moderator of the Geneva-based ACT International aid group, added, “The Lord’s Prayer highlights that having enough to eat is and has always been central to the Christian idea of a world shaped by justice and mercy.”
While the summit was taking place in Rome, churches around the world shared information about their work on the underlying causes of the current desperate situation. The World Council of Churches, ACT International, ACT Development and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance asked those associated with them what campaigning they were taking around the food crisis, along with any humanitarian or long-term development assistance.
The Geneva-based groups said that at present 854 million people, representing one person in every eight, are hungry. The groups noted that, “The current crisis caused by rapid increase in food prices” could add another 100 million people to that count.
Separately, a coalition of more than 250 faith-based organizations attending the Rome summit called on the conference to launch an “effective, long-term multi-stakeholder process of discussion and action at national, regional and international levels, based on fundamental spiritual values in which civil society, including faith organizations, will play a full role”.
The groups circulated a statement to all delegations at the Rome summit. The signatory organizations include Roman Catholic religious orders, non-governmental organizations, a number of who have consultative status at the UN Economic and Social council, various churches, and ecumenical inter-church aid networks.
Their statement said, “Every faith tradition invites us both to feed the hungry and care for our environment and its myriad life forms … We also recognize the need to ensure that policies enacted by elected representatives and relevant international organizations contribute to an improved quality of life for every human person, each made in the image and likeness of God, and to the sustainability of ecosystems on which every living creature depends.”