VATICAN CITY — Caritas International has initiated its first global campaign to eradicate hunger, promoting the basic human right to food and encouraging fraternal solidarity in ensuring that everyone has enough.
In a video message for the Dec. 10 press conference announcing the launching of the campaign, Pope Francis stated that “I am happy to announce to you the launch of a campaign against global hunger by our very own ‘Caritas Internationalis’ and to tell you that I intend to give my full support.”
The Pope highlighted that the work of Caritas, a relief agency of the Church, “is at the heart of the mission of the Church and of her attention towards all those who suffer because of the scandal of hunger.”
Caritas specifically chose to launch the campaign, entitled “One Human Family, Food for All,” on Dec. 10 to correspond with international Human Rights Day, the day the United Nations issued its Universal Declaration on Human Rights, because the initiative is based on the right to have adequate and nutritious food in order to live a dignified life.
One of the primary goals of the global effort, a confederation of 164 various organizations, is to completely eradicate hunger by 2025.
Operating on three different levels in order to achieve the goal of ending hunger, Caritas plans to first begin a global advocacy for the right to food and to help foster national objectives for this, which each individual country can decide based on their resources.
The charity organization is also encouraging each individual person to reflect on personal habits and attitudes regarding the use and waste of food and to base future actions on the principles of justice and charity.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, who was due to be present at the conference but has traveled to South Africa for the funeral of former South African President Nelson Mandela, emphasized in a message read by a representative that the global problem of hunger is a “human issue.”
Pointing to the title of the campaign, the cardinal, who is the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, observed that, “when we live as one human family, there is food for all,” adding that “hunger comes as a lack of human solidarity” and from a lack of acting “as brothers and sisters.”
It is also a “moral issue,” he continued, because it involves human freedom, and we are free to either “act” or to “ignore” the situation.
This campaign, Cardinal Turkson stressed, “is for food nutrition and food security, not against the hungry: Let us eliminate hunger, not the hungry.”
Pope Francis reflected in his video message on the feeding of the 5,000 in the Gospel, stating that, “when the apostles said to Jesus that the people who had come to listen to his words were hungry, he invited them to go and look for food.”
However, “being poor themselves, all they found were five loaves and two fish,” he noted, pointing out that, “with the grace of God, they managed to feed a multitude of people, even managing to collect what was leftover and avoiding that it went to waste.”
“We are in front of a global scandal of around 1 billion — 1 billion people who still suffer from hunger today,” the Pope explained, stating that “we cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist.”
“The food available in the world is enough to feed everyone. The parable of the multiplication of the loaves and fish teaches us exactly this: that if there is the will, what we have never ends."
Pope Francis then asked that all “make a space” in their hearts for the “emergency” of upholding the “God-given” right to food, appealing that each person “give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger, so that this voice becomes a roar which can shake the world.
“Let us pray that the Lord gives us the grace to envisage a world in which no one must ever again die of hunger.”
At the end of the press conference marking the launch of the campaign, the attendees traveled at noon to the Roman Church of St. Francis in Repair to initiate the beginning of a “wave of prayer,” which will continue to travel around the world.
All have been invited to participate in the wave of prayer or follow it on Facebook at “IAmCaritas” or on Twitter with the hashtag “#Food4All.”