Rome, June 14, 2012 - The Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva, met with Pope Benedict XVI today in a private audience at the Vatican. "Ending hunger makes political, economic and social sense, and it is also a moral imperative," Graziano da Silva told the pontiff.
The Director-General called for the "renewed support of the Church in the fight against hunger at the global and local levels, as well as the mobilization of its network to support the goal of a food secure world."
During the meeting, Pope Benedict inquired about the situation in the Horn of Africa as well as about the outlook for the forthcoming Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
On the latter point, the Director-General reiterated that food security is also central to sustainable development. "We cannot talk about sustainable development if almost 900 million people go hungry, and we cannot expect poor farmers who depend directly on natural resources not to cut down trees to survive, if we don't offer them alternatives."
Graziano da Silva expressed his appreciation to the Pope and the Vatican for their ongoing commitment to FAO and the eradication of hunger, as evidenced by the Church's participation in the World Food Summits held so far.
Graziano da Silva stressed the importance of strengthening collaboration with the Church: "Ending hunger is too great a challenge for any one government or agency alone. For this reason we look forward to strengthening cooperation between FAO and the Church. We ask you to encourage your priests to dedicate their masses and sermons to the eradication of hunger during World Food Week, to be observed in October."
The pontiff underscored his commitment to the fight against hunger and said that the Church would soon issue a message of support in this regard.