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.'"