Editor's Note: Later this summer, Pope Francis will release his encyclical on the environment and human ecology. The highly anticipated teaching document will be the first from a pope to focus specifically on creation and human relationship with it.
In the two years since his papacy began, Francis -- like his predecessors Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II -- has spoken regularly on environmental issues, such as protecting creation, climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters, water, food and sustainability. As part of the lead-up to the papal encyclical, Eco Catholic will revisit key speeches, addresses and messages from Francis on environmental topics.
Oct. 16, 2013, message for World Food Day, (part one of two):
[Graphic: Mick Forgey; Photo: CNS/Reinhard Krause/Reuters]
World Food Day places us before one of the most serious challenges for humanity: that of the tragic condition in which millions of hungry and malnourished people still live, among them many children. This acquires even greater seriousness in an age like our own, which is characterized by unprecedented progress in many fields of science and by ever greater possibilities of communication.
It is a scandal that there is still hunger and malnutrition in the world! It is not just a question of responding to immediate emergencies, but of addressing together, at all levels, a problem that challenges our personal and social conscience, in order to achieve a just and lasting solution. May no one be obliged to abandon his or her country or own cultural environment due to a lack of essential means of subsistence! Paradoxically, in an age when globalization enables us to know about the situations of need that exist in the world and to multiply exchanges and human relationships, the tendency to individualism and to withdraw into ourselves seems to be on the rise. These tendencies lead to a certain attitude of indifference — at the personal, institutional and State level — toward those who are dying of hunger or suffering from malnutrition, almost as though it were an inevitable fact. However, hunger and malnutrition can never be considered a normal occurrence to which one must become accustomed, as if it were part of the system. Something has to change in ourselves, in our mentality, in our societies. What can we do? I think that an important step is to tear down decisively the barriers of individualism, self withdrawal and the slavery of profit at all costs; and this needs to be accomplished not only in the dynamics of human relations but also in global economic and financial dynamics. Today more than ever, I think it is necessary to educate ourselves in solidarity, to rediscover the value and meaning of this very uncomfortable word, which oftentimes has been left aside, and to make it become a basic attitude in decisions made at the political, economic and financial levels, in relationships between persons, peoples and nations. It is only in standing firmly united, by overcoming selfish ways of thinking and partisan interests, that the objective of eliminating forms of indigence determined by a lack of food will also be achieved. A solidarity that is not reduced to different forms of welfare, but which makes an effort to ensure that an ever greater number of persons are economically independent. Many steps have been taken in different countries, but we are still far from a world where all can live with dignity.
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ECO QUOTES ARCHIVE
Why the name 'Francis'
“These days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we?”
Being a Protector, Part 1
“The vocation of being a ‘protector’ … means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us.”
Being a Protector, Part 2
“This is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly.”
Life's most essential element
“Water is the most essential element for life, and the future of humanity depends on our capacity to guard it and share it.”
The gift of knowledge
“The knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit … is a special gift, which leads us to grasp, through creation, the greatness and love of God and his profound relationship with every creature.”
To cultivate or neglect
“Cultivating and caring for creation … means making the world increase with responsibility, transforming it so that it may be a garden, an inhabitable place for us all.”
The culture of waste
“If there are children in so many parts of the world who have nothing to eat, that is not news, it seems normal. It cannot be so!”
Time is running out
“The time to find global solutions is running out. We can find appropriate solutions only if we act together and in agreement. There is therefore a clear, definitive and urgent ethical imperative to act.”