A Vatican diplomat has welcomed the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), saying “now is the time for action” against hunger.

– “Instead of investing in weapons, we must invest in peace”

The Nobel for the WFP “emphasises, above all, the importance of continuing to fight hunger, and not to forget that hunger and peace are a very closely related pair”, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Fernando Chica, told Vatican News in an October 9 interview.

Chica recalled that Pope Francis spoke explicitly to the connection between the fight against hunger and the struggle for peace when he visited the headquarters of the WFP in Rome in 2016.

“There [the] Pope had some far-sighted words to say when he spoke about the world instability that we live in and how existing conflicts and weapons have acquired an unusual preponderance [and] are multiplying.

“The Pope then made a vigorous appeal for peace, above all not to increase the arms trade but rather aid. Because many times, said Pope Francis, hunger itself is used as a weapon of war, and the victims are multiplying”, Chica observed.

“Instead of investing in weapons, we must invest in peace. It is urgent to de-burocratise everything that prevents humanitarian aid plans from being carried out.

“And in this the World Food Programme has a fundamental role, because the world needs real heroes, that is, people and institutions that commit themselves to open up paths, to build bridges, so that the [number of] people who suffer diminish, peace is increased and hunger is totally eradicated”, the Vatican diplomat appealed.

– World “still a long way off” Sustainable Development Goals

The Vatican Observer to the FAO told Vatican News that the work of the WFP is “certainly” in line with Pope Francis’ magisterium, first in Laudato si’ and now in his new encyclical Fratelli tutti.

“I think that the world must forget everything that can be a wound to human dignity and put the most vulnerable, the poor, the discarded, the hungry, the sick and all those who are suffering from the pandemic, at the centre of [its] interest and especially… [its] work”, Chica clamoured.

Calling the Pope’s new encyclical “a wonderful lesson in continuing the fight against all these viruses that are making humanity suffer”, Chica launched a powerful plea to humanity to “truly forget selfishness” and recommit to “love for the poorest” and to help for them “to live with dignity”.

Chica recalled that in Fratelli tutti Pope Francis takes up Paul VI’s “wonderful idea” of establishing a global fund “that can finally put an end to hunger and favour development in the most impoverished countries” (FT, 262).

The Holy See representative shared his opinon that such a fund would be “a wonderful thing” in “a world thirsty for peace” and “thirsty for dignity”, “if there was the will”.

“There are many words spoken against hunger, there is much rhetoric. But now the time for action must begin: we need funds, we need gestures, we need concrete programs so that hunger becomes a museum piece, a relic of the past, and not a scourge that torments in the present and above all, if we do not do something, will torment also in the future.

“In 2030 the international community had set the date for the elimination of hunger, but it seems to me that we are still a long way off if we don’t do something.

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must not remain just a good idea, because the world is tired of words. We really need gestures, and real, concrete gestures. We need to conjugate the verb ‘to do’ and forget all this great rhetoric that in the end leads to nothing”, Chica insisted.

More on Novena on the fight against hunger:

Vatican diplomat denounces world “not on track” to reach Sustainable Development Goal of ‘zero hunger’

Vatican proposes on COVID-19 recovery: “What if instead of an arms race we ‘race’ towards food, health and work security?”

Vatican official urges world “to press the reset button” on system post-COVID, forge “a new path”

Pope pleads for “urgent” help for “those who hunger for food and for dignity, those without work and those who struggle to carry on”

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.