Setting humanity free from hunger is possible, Pope Benedict XVI said in a statement released today in commemoration of World Food Day 2012. All that it requires is abandoning policies “that seem to have as their sole objective profit, the defence of markets, the non-alimentary use of agricultural products, the introduction of new production techniques without the necessary precautions." It would then be necessary to end speculative trends “that are now even affecting staples,” as well as to “the monopolization of cultivable areas” which forces farmers to give up their land, excluded as they seem to be from every right.

The pope said that in today's global food market, "malnutrition is, in fact, being worsened by gradual disengagement and excessive competitiveness, factors which could make us forget that only shared solutions can adequately respond to the expectations of individuals and peoples."

Says L’Osservatore Romano: "The Pope's condemnation of all obstacles to the right to nourishment of the whole human race is firm. Equally firm is his defence of the 'new type of economy at the service of the person, that can encourage forms of sharing and of giving freely,' represented by agricultural cooperatives." The pope endorsed such cooperatives as "a concrete expression not of a sterile complementarity, but of a real subsidiarity, a principle that the social doctrine of the church sets as the foundation for a proper relationship between the individual, society and institutions."

The Pope expressed his convictions in a message addressed to José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization. The World Food Day theme this year is “Agricultural Cooperatives – Key to Feeding the World.”

In endorsing the cooprative model for agricultural production, the pope said the church "has always supported the model of cooperatives" in agriculture, because they give "due priority" to the human dimension of work. “The deepest meaning of cooperation indicates the person's need to associate in order to achieve together with others new goals in the social, economic, cultural and religious spheres," said Benedict.

Benedict XVI goes on to recall that, when conflicts or natural disasters impede agricultural work, consideration must always be given "to the vital role played by women, who are often called to administer the activity of cooperatives, to maintain family ties and to safeguard the precious heritage of rural knowledge and techniques.

"It is indispensable", the Pope concludes his message, "that national and international authorities provide the necessary legislation and financing to ensure that, in rural areas, cooperatives may become effective instruments of agricultural production, food security, social change and a wider improvement in living conditions. In this new context it is to be hoped that the young may look to their future with renewed confidence, while maintaining their link with agricultural work, the rural world and its traditional values."

Meanwhile in anoter precinct of the global church as the pope mused on issues communitarian, a German named Marx teed off on the minimum wage proposed in Germany (h/t Clerical Whispers):

"The head of the commission representing Catholic bishops from the European Union has criticised plans for a minimum wage in his native Germany and warned that a tax on wealth would resemble a 'class struggle.'

"'Any regulation of earnings poses problems for a free society and should be considered only as a last resort,' said Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich-Freising, president of the Brussels-based COMECE, which helps to define the Church's stance on economic and social issues in Europe.

"'Minimum pay means a capitulation by the social market economy, in which the sides of a collective contract take responsibility for determining appropriate remuneration.'"

Comments

Jacqueline MCGEE | 10/17/2012 - 11:27am
I know this sounds very impressive, but I am really beginning to wonder if these words are just that.  Surely he knows that the U.S. bishops are firmly on the side of the people who believe in individualism, believe in ultra capitalism, believe in few to no regulations on people producing anything, from food to oil and coal production.  

I know that that they view the issue of abortion as being paramount, but is anybody stopping to think about what it really means if abortion is outlawed once more?  First of all, because of personhood amendments, and attempts in many states to criminalize abortions, women who will seek illegal abortions (and they will as they have done throughout history) will not only face death in bungled, unsanitary procecures, but should they survive they face prison sentences or worse.  Some of the most anti-abortion states in the country fervently believe in the death penalty.  But even more ironically, the people who will be harmed will invariably be the poor women we as a Church purport to care about.  Unless we will be instituting a system whereby all women of child-bearing age will be checked to find out if they are pregnant before leaving the US and checked again upon their return, then we will encourage a massive increase in passport applications (good for the Treasury) and air travel to and from countries where abortion remains legal.  Only the poor will face the consequences of the new laws.  Surely that does not seem like justice.  

There are far fewer abortions, by the way, in most of Europe with their "socialized" medicine than in the U.S.  More women plan their families with free, highly available birth control, and children who are born, even to poorer women, live in the presence of much better safety nets and, of course, assured medical care.  Perhaps, it is time for a "this and that" approach to our problems instead of the stark "either/or" with which we are currently presented.  No abortions is the ideal.  It is the right thing, but until our society accepts that it is a village raising children, we should not be surprised that women who feel utterly and entirely powerless will make decisions we do not approve of.
Michael Barberi | 10/17/2012 - 7:56pm
The Vatican has immense treasures, for example much land and art. Perhaps selling them and working with the governments in question to establish more argricultural cooperatives, would better help bring about Benedict XVI's suggestions. This would also recognize and help resolve the balancing of the economic and social priorities and resources that tax the best of intentions of each nation.

Why doesn't the Catholic Church become a catalyst for change as in bringing together a collected Christian Initiative (e.g., working with other Christian Churches) for a better social ethics. Such examples of works well done can multiple and incentivize both individuals, groups and entire nations to do more. Works in this example is better than words.