Vatican on Food and Sustainable Development

Recent the Holy See has sent messages through their delegations to the UN on both issues. On the issue of Food Security Archbishop Tomasi emphasized the importance of agriculture. Also he spoke of the right to food being derived directly from the right to life… not mentioned explicitly, but a reminder that a culture that dismisses life may be dismissing other consequent right. Below some of his words:

“The right to food is a basic right because it is intrinsically linked to the right to life. Almost a billion people, however, do not enjoy this right.

“Special attention should be directed to the 2.5 billion people dependent on agriculture for their daily sustenance. Among this population are found most of the people who suffer from malnutrition and hunger.”

The other address, delivered by Charles Clark, professor of economics at St. John’s University, on behalf of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations to the Second Preparatory Committee for the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development. Dr. Clark mostly focused on economic issues and warned about the concept of “green economies”. The first 2 quotes below mention warnings and the third is a suggestion for moving forward:

“my delegation hopes that we would not forget that the purpose of development is integral human development and that all our strategies and practices must be judged by this standard

Most of the development strategies and policies that have failed to promote integral human development in the past have done so because they reduced humans to a shadow of their humanity. On the one hand we are told that self-interest and greed are the sole drivers of human behavior, and that “free markets” are all that is needed to turn “private vice into public virtue.” On the other hand we are told that human nature is what society makes it, giving us a development strategy that centers on structures and institutions, with the hope that the right institutions will be enough to promote development.

An economy grounded in a people-centered ethics and morality will necessarily promote the goals of GESDPE, for it will promote both the care of humans and the care of creation. Such an approach must recognize that the economy starts with several vital gifts: first, the gift of creation to all humans and, second, the sharing of that gift between humans. An economy not grounded in a people-centered ethics and morality will undoubtedly instrumentalize the goods of the earth for the benefit of the rich and powerful.  It will turn social and environmental indicators, which can be valuable tools for helping to promote authentic human development, into statistical fixations and false goals that give the appearance of progress without producing the reality of true progress. 

Or worse, they can become excuses for sacrificing human rights and assaulting human dignity, all for a distorted view of the common good.”

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