MOSCOW, November 20 (Sputnik) — Speaking at the United Nations’ Second International Conference on Nutrition in Rome on Thursday, the Roman Catholic Church’s Pope Francis condemned global inequalities in food distribution and urged delegates not to lose sight of the world’s hungry in the course of their bureaucratic decision-making, Agence France Presse has reported.
"The hungry remain at the street corner, and ask to be recognized as citizens, to receive a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity," Pope Francis said at the meeting before delegates of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.
The pontiff criticized the “paradox of plenty,” the situation where there is enough food to feed everyone on Earth, but it is distributed in such a way that hundreds of millions continue to suffer from malnutrition.
The Pope attributed this problem to corporate and stock market greed, remarking that “it is…painful to see the struggle against hunger and malnutrition hindered by ‘market priorities’, the ‘primacy of profit’, which reduce foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation and financial speculation in particular.”
Discussing the problem of the subject’s bureaucratization, Francis said that “there are few subjects about which we find as many fallacies as those related to hunger; few topics as likely to be manipulated by data, statistics, the demands of national security, corruption, or futile lamentation about the economic crisis. This is the first challenge to be overcome.”
The Pope noted that efforts for fair distribution “cannot remain in the limbo of theory,” asking conference delegates drawing up the “rules and technical measures” to deal with the issue never to lose sight of the hungry person “fighting for survival”.
The Pope has supported the conference’s Draft of the Rome Declaration on Nutrition, whose focus is on improving access to nutrition, including nutrient and vitamin-rich food, as well as dealing with the issue of obesity.
The draft declaration notes that while the prevalence of undernourishment has dropped over the past two decades, over 842 million people continue to suffer from undernourishment, including chronic and acute malnutrition, which lead to stunting and wasting among millions of children every year.
Highlighting global inequalities, the declaration also notes that 42 million children and 500 million adults are overweight or obese. The report notes that over two billion of the world’s population suffers from nutrient deficiencies, including Vitamin A, iodine, iron and zinc.
Pope Francis has made the fight against hunger and global poverty two central planks in his dynamic and multifaceted effort to reform the Catholic Church. In a letter to Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week ahead of the APEC Summit, the Pope noted that “responsibility for the poor and the marginalized must…be an essential element of any political decision, whether on the national or the international level.” He added that “[The] mentality that maximization of profits is the final criterion of all economic activity… in which individuals are ultimately discarded, will never achieve peace or justice.”