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Friday, October 21, 2011

Hunger and interior attitudes

Pope Benedict XVI this week issued his statement for World Food Day. As usual it had much to say, most of which went under-reported.

My friends at the Catholic Climate Covenant sent word of the statement, calling attention to the pontiff’s mention of “climate changes.” But the Holy Father modified the term with the adjective “sudden,” which may or may not be a diplomatic way of staying out of the climate-change debate. Still, he did make mention to a changing climate.

The more impressive term that the Holy Father used (and reiterated from elsewhere) is the reminder that humanity and individuals must grow with an “integral development.”

Indeed, in his thousand-or-so-word document, the pope gave a nod to the universality of Christian revelation, to the New Evangelization, and spoke specifically about “an interior attitude of responsibility, capable of inspiring a different style of life, with necessary sobriety in conduct and consumption, to thus favor the good of society.”

In other words, the document is a beautiful summary of what Catholic ecology is all about.

Moreover, what Benedict XVI said bolsters a recent statement by Archbishop Timothy Dolan regarding, in part, bringing back the full meaning of the Friday fast, which has been recommended herein, and will continue to be. The return of meatless Friday's would, as the Archbishop writes, be an external marker that relates to (and helps bring about) the very interior attitude that the Holy Father noted in his World Food Day message.

In this regard, Pope Benedict writes in a way that connects what we do with who we are. And that connects how our real choices can benefit others:
Given the magnitude of the tragedy of famine, it is not enough to invite reflection and analyze the problems, nor even the willingness to intervene. Too often these factors are useless because they are reduced to the sphere of emotions, without being capable of moving the conscience and its search for truth and goodness [ . . . ] On the contrary, the purpose of this Day should be a commitment to modify behavior and decisions, which ensure today rather than tomorrow, that every person has access to the necessary food, and that the agricultural sector has a level of investments and resources capable of giving stability to production and hence to the market. It is easy to reduce discussions to the food requirements for an increasing population, knowing well that the causes of hunger have other roots and have caused so many victims among so many Lazaruses who are not allowed to sit at the table of the rich Epulon (cf. Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 47).
Well, there you have it. Read the document. Ask yourself, what’s my interior attitude? I know mine is far off the mark. I do not know if I can live a "different style of life, with necessary sobriety in conduct and consumption." And so I pray for the great strength to do so.


  1. My family has recently begun to observe the tradition of meatless Fridays for these very reasons. In my position as the Central Ontario animator for the Canadian Catholic organization for Development and Peace ( I am hoping to do some work to popularize this tradition again.

  2. Most baby boomers have been doing Catholic Ecology since our parents figured that out, in the great depression of 1930's. Those who didn't do Catholic Ecology are reaping/have reaped the consequences of all the diseases stemming from gross obesity.

    Dam the rivers, make growing fields out of your deserts. The Isrealites have been turning seawater into irrigation water since when? The late 1940's. What? You can't figure out how they do that? I am sure they will sell you the technology. O, but you governments condemn anything Israel does, to your own hurt, and want USA taxpayers to bail you out with food, etc., instead.

    And people starving in fertile potential breadbasket lands that grow huge jungles of vegetation? Well, 2+2 still equals 4. Your governments live in palaces faring sumptuously, while they can't even figure out how to get the people to do seed planting and harvest. Something even prehistoric cavemen figured out how to do! Again, USA taxpayers to the rescue. Throw our hard earned dollars at them, endlessly, as their governments fare sumptuously and put the guilt/burden on us children and grand children of the baby boomers.

    You brainiacs at the UN and you brainiacs at the Papel Institute of World Renowned esteemed venerable eminent scientists can't figure out simple solutions? Nuoooooooo....all your solutions have to do with padding your eminent pockets with various kinds of ponzi type banker/chemical company schemes in attempts to monopolize the world's food supply.

    Yea, you get to explain your greedy decisions to Jesus one day at the great White Throne Judgement. Good luck.



  5. YEAREND-MARTINO Jan-2-2009

    Violating human dignity is root of all conflict, says Vatican official

    By Carol Glatz
    Catholic News Service

    In the article that appeared in the Vatican newspaper's first issue of 2009, Cardinal Martino assessed a variety of world events and issues that attracted the attention of the Vatican in 2008.

    He said the scandal of hunger in the world continues to be of concern.

    Famine and lack of nutrition are to be blamed on the poor distribution of plentiful foodstuffs, not overpopulation, he said.

    The responsibility for the food crisis "is in the hands of unscrupulous people who focus only on profit and certainly not on the well-being of all people," said Cardinal Martino.

    A more just system of distribution and not the manufacturing of genetically modified foods is the key to addressing the problem, he said.

    "If one wants to pursue GMOs (genetically modified organisms) one can freely do so, BUT WITHOUT HIDING THAT IT'S A WAY TO MAKE MORE PROFITS," he said.

    Utilizing genetically modified foods calls for "prudence" because genetically modifying organisms can increase yields in some instances, he said, but people must not abuse their power to be able to manipulate nature.


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