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The Vatican on Hunger

Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- When worldwide food consumption is increasing and transportation makes it theoretically possible to deliver food anywhere, it is a "real scandal" that millions of people are still dying of hunger, a Vatican official said.

Eliminating hunger is "necessary, indispensable and possible, as we all know," said Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, the Vatican representative to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization.

The archbishop spoke during the June 6-8 session of the FAO Committee on World Food Security, which met in Rome ahead of a June 10-13 summit to review progress in reducing hunger.

According to the FAO, one out of every eight people in the world is "chronically hungry," managing to have a maximum of one meal each day.

When government leaders gathered for the World Food Summit in 1996, they pledged their support for programs to reduce world hunger by 50 percent by the year 2015.

Instead, the number of people defined as hungry or malnourished grew from 800 million to 815 million between 1996-2001.

The figures, Archbishop Marchetto said, are the result of natural disasters, war, exclusion and selfishness.

The rise in the number of hungry people has taken place "in a context where consumption is increasing on a world scale and a growing market globalization would actually make the food supply 'available' in every corner of the earth," he said.

"Nobody can overlook the fact that, in the end, only a positive thrust, an incentive from public opinion, can produce real, desirable, constant and attentive government engagement," the archbishop said.

While emergency food aid, development money and technical assistance are needed, reducing hunger worldwide will happen only with a commitment to reduce selfishness, "the habit of scandal and evil," he told the committee.