Pope Francis condemned Monday the “superficiality, negligence and selfishness that underlie the culture of waste”.

Driving the news

In a message for the opening of the Second Regular Session of the Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP), the Pope praised that food-assistance branch of the United Nations for its efforts in the fight against hunger in the world.

In this session, the WFP has set as a top priority the reduction of food waste, a problem Francis admitted “increasingly weighs on our conscience”.

“In many places, our brothers and sisters do not have access to sufficient and healthy food, while in others, food is discarded and squandered”, the Pope deplored.

Francis said that the “paradox of abundance”, as Pope John Paul II put it, “continues to be an obstacle to resolving the problem of feeding humanity”.

Go deeper

The Pope warned that until the world contains the problems underlying the culture of waste, both the Paris Agreement carbon emissions targets and the UN Sustainable Development Goals will be unreachable.

And yet, he added, those targets and goals are the responsibility of all, from governments to corporations to individual citizens.

“No one can be considered exempt from the need to combat this culture that oppresses so many people, especially the poor and vulnerable in society”, the Pope cautioned.

Why it matters

Lamenting that food waste especially “damages the lives of many individuals and prevents the progress of peoples”, the Pope insisted that “if we wish to build a future where no one is left behind, we must create a present that radically rejects the squandering of food”.

“Together, without losing time, by pooling resources and ideas, we can introduce a lifestyle that gives food the importance it deserves”, Francis insisted.

“This new lifestyle consists in properly valuing what mother Earth gives us, and will have an impact on humanity as a whole”.

Promising his ongoing support for the WFP, Francis pledged the continuing cooperation of the Catholic Church in working “to foster solidarity among all people… by reaffirming that each human being has a right to healthy and sustainable nutrition”.

“Whenever the human person is put at the centre of political and economic decisions, peace and stability are consolidated between nations, even as mutual understanding, the foundation of authentic human progress, everywhere increases”, Francis underlined.

For the record

On Monday, the Pope also addressed “scourges” such as war, hunger, poverty, the environmental crisis and the crisis of the family and the economy in an audience with members of the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue (IDI) of Buenos Aires.

“It is important to demonstrate that we believers are a factor of peace for human societies, and that we will thus respond to those who unjustly accuse religions of fomenting hatred and being the cause of violence”, Francis said in that audience.

“Our religious traditions are a necessary source of inspiration to foster a culture of encounter”, the Pope explained.

“It is fundamental for there to be interreligious cooperation, based on the promotion of sincere and respectful dialogue that goes towards unity without confusion, maintaining identities”.

In this sense, Francis warned against religious “fundamentalist groups” who refuse to open themselves up to dialogue with people of other religions, or of none at all.

“Fundamentalism is a scourge and all religions have some kind of fundamentalist first cousin there, which forms a group”, the Pope denounced.

What’s next

Also on Monday, the Pope met in the Vatican with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, to discuss issues around the reunification process on the island, as well as migration, religious freedom and minority rights, according to a Holy See press release.

After the meet, Anastasiades said the Pope “is very interested in the Cyprus problem and understands the difficulties caused by Turkey’s invasion and illegal occupation”.

The president added that he had the opportunity to invite Francis to Cyprus, an invitation he said the Pope “was very pleased to accept”.

“The Pope’s visit will take place next year and will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus”, Anastasiades explained.

Should that papal visit to Cyprus eventuate in 2020, it will also be on the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s trip to the island, in what was an historical first for a pontiff.

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