Vatican City, 16 October 2013 (VIS) – The Holy Father has written a message to Jose Graziano de Silva, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on the occasion of World Food Day, celebrated every year on October 16 to mark the foundation of the FAO, and which this year focuses on the theme: “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition”.

“Paradoxically, in a moment in which globalisation allows us to be informed of situations of need throughout the world, and to multiply exchanges and human relations, there appears to be a growing tendency towards individualism and inwardness, which leads to a certain attitude of indifference – at a personal, institutional and State level – towards those who die of hunger and suffer as a result of malnutrition, as if it were an inescapable fact”, writes the Pope. “But hunger and malnutrition can never be considered a fact of life, to which we must accustom ourselves, almost as if it were ‘part of the system’. Something must change in us, in ourselves, in our mentality, in our societies”.

For these changes to be made, Pope Francis adds that “an important step is to break down decisively the barriers of individualism, of being wrapped up in ourselves, of slavery to profit at all costs, and this applies not only to the dynamics of human relations, but also in the global economic and financial dynamics”.

He continues, “I think that it is necessary, today more than ever, for us to educate ourselves in solidarity, rediscovering the value and meaning of this uncomfortable word which is so often set aside, and to turn it into the attitude that forms the basis of decisions made at a political, economic and financial level, and of relations between people, populations and nations”.

Although steps have been taken, “we are still far from a world in which everyone may live in a dignified way”, he writes. “This leads to serious questions on the need to modify our lifestyles in a concrete way”, including our approaches to food which, “in many areas of the planet, are marked by consumerism, waste and squander. … It would be sufficient to eliminate such waste to drastically reduce the number of people who go hungry”.

Pope Francis introduces a third element for consideration: “education in solidarity and a lifestyle that rejects the ‘throwaway culture’, and which truly places each person and his or her dignity in the centre, begins in the family”. He concludes by emphasising that “the Catholic Church walks this path with you, aware that charity and love are the soul of her mission”.