|WORLD HUNGER—A Challenge for All: Development in Solidarity|
|Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"
(Released on October 24, 1996)
I am very pleased to present the document "World Hunger—A Challenge for All: Development in Solidarity." It has been prepared with great care by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, upon the request of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. In addition, this year in his Lenten message the successor to St. Peter has given voice to those who lack the vital minimum: "The crowds of starving people—children, women, the elderly, immigrants, refugees, the unemployed—raise to us their cry of suffering. They implore us, hoping to be heard."
The document follows the path laid down by Christ to his disciples. The person and message of Jesus Christ are, in fact, centered on the manifestation that "God is love" (1 Jn. 4:8), a love which redeems humanity and saves it from a manifold misery in order to restore all men and women to their full dignity. Throughout the centuries the church has given many concrete expressions of this divine care. The history of the church can be written as a history of love and charity toward the poorest of the poor. This is thanks to the many Christians who have given witness to their needy brothers and sisters, thus showing Christ's love in laying down his life for all.
The study now published intends to give a further contribution to the commitment of Christians, that of sharing in the needs of all The themes dealt with are very much of the present day, not only in describing the present situation in the world as far as hunger is concerned, but also the ethical implications of this problem which concerns all who are of good will. This publication is also important in view of the Jubilee of the Year 2000, which the church is preparing to celebrate. The spirit of this document is not based on any particular ideology; it is led by the logic of the Gospel and extends an invitation to follow Jesus Christ in daily life.
It is my hope that this document will reach a large audience so that the conscience of many persons will become more sensitive to the exercise of distributive justice and human solidarity.
Vatican City, Oct. 4, 1996, feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano
The right to food is one of the principles enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The 1969 Declaration on Social Progress and Development declared the need for "the elimination of hunger and malnutrition and the guarantee of the right to proper nutrition." Likewise, the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition, adopted in 1974, declared that every person has the inalienable right to be free from hunger and malnutrition for their full development and to preserve their physical and mental capacities. In 1992 the World Declaration on Nutrition recognized that access to suitable, wholesome and safe food is a universal right.
These words leave no room for doubt. The public conscience has spoken out unambiguously. Yet millions of people are still marked by the ravages of hunger and malnutrition or the consequences of food insecurity. Is this due to a lack of food? Not at all! It is generally acknowledged that the resources of the planet, taken as a whole, are sufficient to feed everyone living on it. Indeed, the per capita availability of food worldwide has even increased by about 18 percent over the past few years.
The challenge facing the whole of humanity today is certainly economic and technological in character, but it is more specifically an ethical, spiritual and political challenge. The challenge is as much a matter of practical solidarity and authentic development as it is of material advancement.
1. The church holds that economic, social and political issues cannot be properly approached unless the transcendental dimension of the human being is taken into account. Greek philosophy, which has so thoroughly permeated the Western world, took this view:
The human being can only discover or pursue truth, goodness and justice using his own faculties if his awareness is enlightened by the divine. It is precisely the divine that enables human nature to consider disinterested duty toward others. Christians believe that it is divine grace which gives human beings the strength needed to act according to their own discernment.
Nevertheless, the church appeals to all men and women of good will to accomplish this gigantic task. The Second Vatican Council stated that "since there are so many people prostrate with hunger in the world, this sacred council urges all, both individuals and governments, to remember the aphorism of the fathers, 'Feed the man dying of hunger, because if you have not fed him, you have killed him.’" Such a solemn warning urges everyone to be firmly committed to combating hunger.
2. The urgent nature of this problem has prompted the Pontifical Council Cor Unum to offer some findings of its own research. It is duty-bound to appeal to individual and collective responsibility for ensuring that more effective solutions are adopted. The council supports all those who are already earnestly dedicated to this noble pursuit.
This document attempts to provide a global, but not exhaustive analysis and description of the causes and consequences of world hunger. It is specifically based on the Gospel and the church's social teaching. It does not set out primarily to take stock of the present economic situation. The document, therefore, will not concentrate on the statistics relevant to the present situation, or the numbers of people threatened with death by starvation, or the percentage of the undernourished, or the most at risk regions, or the economic measures needed to stave off the threat.
Drawing its inspiration from the church's pastoral mission, the purpose of this document is to send out a pressing appeal to her members and to all humanity. "The church is an 'expert in humanity,' and this leads her necessarily to extend her religious mission to the various fields in which men and women expend their efforts in search of the always relative happiness which is possible in this world." Today the church again takes up the provocative appeal that God made to Cain, asking him to account for the life of his brother Abel: "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground" (Gn. 4:10).
It is certainly not an unfair or aggressive exaggeration to apply these forbidding, almost unbearable words to the plight of our contemporaries who today are starving to death. These words spell out a priority and are intended to touch our consciences.
It would be an illusion to expect any ready-made solutions. The issue which needs to be faced depends on the economic policies of those who lead and manage, but also those of producers and consumers. Further, it is deeply rooted in our own lifestyles. Thus, this appeal makes demands upon everyone, and we are hopeful that a decisive improvement can be brought about as a result of human relations that are increasingly based on solidarity.
3. This document is addressed to Catholics throughout the world and to national and international leaders who have the power and the responsibility to take action in this sphere. But it is also addressed to all humanitarian organizations and to all men and women of good will. Its specific purpose is to give encouragement to the thousands of people, in all walks of life and occupations, who daily strive to ensure that all peoples are given the same right "to be seated at the table of the common banquet."
4. Our planet should be able to feed everyone adequately. Before taking up the challenge of hunger, the many facets and the real causes of hunger must be examined. However, there is no exact understanding of all the situations of hunger and malnutrition that exist in the world. Several major causes have nevertheless been identified. We shall begin by setting out the reasons for this approach before moving on to examine the main causes of this scourge.
5. Hunger must not be confused with malnutrition. Hunger threatens not only people's lives but also their dignity. A serious and protracted lack of food breaks down the organism, generating apathy, a loss of a social sense and indifference or even cruelty toward those who are weaker-particularly children and the elderly. Whole groups of people are then condemned to waste away to death. Throughout history this tragedy has been played out over and over again. But today people are more scandalized by starvation than was the case in the past.
Until the 19th century, famines which decimated whole populations were more often the work of nature. Today they may be not so vast, but in most cases are man-made. One need only cite a few regions or countries to be convinced: Ethiopia, Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Haiti, etc. At a time when humanity is better equipped than ever before to deal with hunger, such situations are a veritable dishonor to humanity.
6. The great efforts that are now being deployed have brought some benefits, but the fact remains that malnutrition is more widespread than hunger and takes widely different forms. A person can be malnourished without being hungry. Yet the organism's physical, intellectual and social potential is impaired just the same. Malnutrition may be due to food quality or a poorly balanced diet (by excess or lack of). Often it is also due to not having enough to eat and becomes acute when there is a shortage of available food. Some call this <denutrition> or <undernutrition>. Malnutrition encourages the dissemination of some infectious and endemic diseases and aggravates their consequences. Further, it increases mortality rates, particularly among children under 5 years of age.
7. The poor are the chief victims of malnutrition and hunger in the world. The fact of being poor almost invariably means falling more easily prey to the many hazards that threaten survival and being less resistant to physical sickness. Since the '80s, poverty has grown increasingly more serious and is threatening ever larger numbers of people in most parts of the world. Within a poor population, the first victims are always the weakest individuals: children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, the sick and the elderly. There are also other vulnerable groups that run a very high risk of malnutrition: refugees and displaced persons as well as victims of political turmoil.
But it is in the 42 least-developed countries—of which 28 are in Africa alone—that hunger is most severe. "About 700 million people in developing countries—20 percent of their population—still do not have access to enough food to meet their basic daily needs for nutritional well-being."
8. In the developing countries, it is commonplace for populations whose livelihood depends on low-yielding subsistence agriculture to suffer from hunger during the interval between two harvests. When earlier harvests have also been insufficient, food shortages can occur and give rise to an acute phase of malnutrition. This weakens the population physically, placing them at risk just when all their energy is required to prepare for the next harvest. Food shortages place the future of these people in jeopardy since they eat crop seeds, plunder natural resources and accelerate soil erosion, degradation or desertification on their lands.
In addition to the distinction between hunger (or famine) and malnutrition, there is a third type of situation-—food insecurity—which leads to famine or malnutrition by making it impossible to plan and implement any long-term measures to foster and attain sustainable development.
9. Climatic factors and disasters of all kinds, however consequential, are far from being the sole causes of hunger and malnutrition. In order to deal effectively with the problem of hunger and all its causes, whether contingent or permanent, the linkages between them should be considered. We will now examine the main causes, grouping them into the usual categories: economic, socio-cultural and political.
10. The primary cause of hunger is poverty. Food security essentially depends upon an individual's purchasing power and not the physical availability of food. Hunger exists in every country. It has resurfaced in European countries, West and East alike, and is very widespread in countries that are insufficiently and incorrectly developed.
However, the history of the 20th century shows that economic poverty is not an inevitability. Many countries have taken off economically and are continuing to do so at this very moment. At the same time still others are foundering after falling prey to national or international policies based on false premises.
Hunger stems simultaneously from <inter alia:>
a) Non-optimum economic policies in every country, since unsound policies implemented in the developed countries indirectly, but strongly, affect all the economically poor people in every country.
b) Structures and customs that are ineffective or which are blatantly destructive of national wealth:
—At the domestic level in misdeveloping countries—the large public or private organizations enjoying monopoly status (which is sometimes inevitable) often hamper development instead of fostering it as demonstrated by the adjustments undertaken in many countries over the past 10 years.
—At the domestic level in developed countries-shortcomings are less noticeable at the international level, but are no less damaging, directly or indirectly, to all the world's deprived.
—At the international level—constraints on trade and economic incentives are often ill-conceived.
c) Morally reprehensible conduct such as the craving for money, power and a public image, as ends in themselves, is evidenced by a diminished sense of public service for the sole benefit of individuals or worthy groups; this is accompanied by a high level of corruption in a variety of different forms, from which no country may fairly claim to be exempt.
All this reveals the contingent nature of human activities. For despite the best intentions, mistakes are often committed, creating unstable situations. Pointing them out is one means of setting about to resolve them.
Economic development has to be cultivated with institutions and individuals sharing in the responsibility for this. The most effective role that the state can play is the one set out in the church's social teaching and found in the analyses of the church's social encyclicals.
The root cause of non-development or misdevelopment is the lack of will and ability to freely serve humanity, by and for each human being, which is a fruit of love. This is something that runs throughout this entire complex situation: at every level of technology in the broad sense of the term, in structures, legislation and in moral conduct. It is manifested in the design and performance of acts and instruments whose economic scope may be either broad or narrow.
The lack of skills, structures which are no longer capable of serving cost-effectively, individual moral deviance and the absence of love are the causes of hunger. Shortcomings in terms of any one of these points, anywhere in the world, inevitably lead to a further reduction in the share rightfully due to the hungry.
Recent economic and financial developments throughout the world are an illustration of these complex phenomena. Technology and morality are closely implicated in them and determine economic performance. This leads us to the question of the debt crisis in the majority of the misdeveloping countries along with the adjustment measures that have been or are about to be implemented.
11. The unilateral massive rise in oil prices that occurred in 1973 and 1979 had far-reaching repercussions on the non-oil-producing countries. The releasing of massive volumes of liquid funds that the banking system endeavored to recycle caused a general economic slowdown as a result of which the poor countries suffered considerably. For a variety of reasons, during the '70s and '80s most countries were able to borrow heavily at variable rates of interest, and the countries of Latin America and Africa were able to develop their public sector to an exceptional degree. This period of easy money led to many excesses: unnecessary projects which were poorly designed or badly implemented, the wholesale destruction of traditional economies and the spread of corruption in every country. Some countries in Asia managed to avoid these mistakes and were able to develop very rapidly.
Soaring interest rates—caused by the mere interplay of unbridled and probably uncontrollable market forces—placed most of Latin America and Africa in a position of having to withhold debt repayments. This caused a flight of capital abroad, which in the short term posed a threat to the local social fabric, in many cases already mediocre and vulnerable, and also threatened the very existence of the banking system. That made it possible to gauge the extent of the damage caused in every sphere: economic, structural and moral. Purely technical and organizational solutions were initially sought. But such measures, which are necessary when sound, need to be supported by a thorough overhaul of behavior on the part of everyone, particularly people who, in every country and at all levels, are able to evade the enormous constraints which poverty imposes on decisions regarding their lives.
At the beginning of the adjustment period, transfers became negative: Loans were blocked; oil prices were artificially pegged at unsustainable levels for developing countries; raw material prices slumped as a result of the economic slowdown due to the high price of oil compounded by the debt crisis itself. Added to this was the excessively slow reaction evidenced on the part of international organizations, except for the International Monetary Fund, to reinject liquidity into the system. During all this time, living standards in the over-indebted countries began to fall.
This demonstrates the knowledge required to manage money and not merely technical and economic know-how. The release of such huge volumes of liquid funds created considerable structural and personal damage instead of leading to any spectacular worldwide improvement in the plight of the most deprived.
There is a conclusion to be drawn from this: Human advancement depends on the human being's capacity to practice altruism, love in other words, which has extremely important practical implications. In succinct and realistic terms, love is not a luxury. It is a condition for the survival of a very large number of human beings.
12. The violence of the monetary phenomena has forced many countries to adopt very stringent measures to tackle the crises and restore the balance in key areas. By their very nature, these measures considerably reduce a country's average purchasing power.
Enormous difficulties and sufferings are caused by these economic crises, even though once they are resolved they eventually make it possible to rebuild a better life.
The crises highlight the country's weaknesses, which may be inherent or acquired, including those originating from the development errors committed by successive governments, their partners or even by the international community. These weaknesses are manifold and sometimes only become evident a posterior). Others are the result of a country's independence policies, because what constituted the strength of the former colonial power may constitute the weakness of the independent country, without the emergence of any means of compensation for them. Then there is the major role played by large-scale projects. These mark out moments of truth, where the need for solidarity is strongly felt in every country. But in reality, the prime effect of these readjustment policies is a reduction in overall expenditure and hence a decline in incomes. The economically poor in the country are faced with a single alternative: either to place their trust in successive governments or seek to get rid of them. They themselves often fall victim to ambitious groups seeking power through ideology or out of greed, ignoring all the rules of democracy and where necessary calling on support from outside forces.
Economic reforms demand great political decision-making skills on the part of governments. This is one of the criteria by which to gauge the quality of their work. Not only must the stabilization plan be technically successful, it must be able to keep the support of the majority of the people, including the most deprived. This demands the ability to convince the other sectors of society to bear a real part of the burden. These constitute only a small circle of persons and are made up of those with incomes of international standards and civil servants, who in the past enjoyed standards that were enviable in their country and who could find themselves with severely reduced resources or even poverty-stricken from one day to the next. It is here that traditional solidarity comes into play, with the poor always willing to support the members of their family who have fallen back into a state of want from which they believed they had emerged forever.
Concern to protect the very poorest people in these readjustment processes has only been gradually taken on board by national and international agencies. It took several years for the concept of concomitant operations targeted at the most vulnerable groups to become widely accepted. Furthermore, here as in emergency situations, there is always a risk of applying the brakes too late and too suddenly, with a whiplash effect that might considerably increase the sufferings of those standing at the back of the queue.
Vast projects have been implemented in Africa and in Latin America involving:
—Structural adjustment programs requiring stringent macro-economic measures.
—Substantial new borrowing.
—Far-reaching structural reforms to overcome local inadequacies partly due to the existence of state monopolies which consume a substantial share of national income without providing an adequate quality of service for the benefit of everyone. In many of these countries all the public services have suffered, and with weeds often growing among the good wheat, even efficient sectors have been adversely affected as well.
Some governments, which are often little known on the international scene, have acted admirably. They have found the political courage to adopt unavoidable measures, while at the same time taking into account external pressure and opinion, setting a fine example to increase cooperation and solidarity in their countries and avoiding any backlash. It should be noted that the influence that the example of a leader has depends not only on his know-how and governance skills, but also on his capacity to curtail social injustice, which is always present in such situations.
The developed countries must seriously ask themselves the following question: Is their attitude, and even their preferences regarding the misdeveloping countries based on the social, technical and political performance of their leadership or is their support determined by other standards?
13. Certain socio-cultural factors have been shown to increase the risks of famine and chronic malnutrition. Food taboos, the social and family status of women—their real influence within the family, the lack of training for mothers in feeding and nutrition techniques, widespread illiteracy, and insecurity regarding work and unemployment—are some of the factors that can accumulate and cause malnutrition as well as dire poverty. Let us keep in mind that not even the developed countries themselves are immune to this scourge. The same factors create occasional or chronic malnutrition on the part of many of the "new poor" just as they are beginning to catch up with the others who live in affluence and over-consumption.
14. Ten thousand years ago the world probably had a population of 5 million. In the 17th century, with the dawning of the modern age, it had reached 500 million. Then the demographic growth rate began to rise more steeply: to 1 billion by the beginning of the 19th century, 1.65 billion at the beginning of the 20th, 3 billion in 1964, 4 billion in 1975, 5.2 billion in 1990, 5.5 billion in 1993, and 5.6 billion in 1994. For a time, the demographic situation developed differently between the "affluent" and the "developing" countries. This situation is still evolving. Let us not forget that proliferation is a reaction by nature-and consequently by the human being-to threats to the survival of the species.
Research has shown that as peoples and nations become more affluent high birth rates and high death rates are reversed to low birth rates and low death rates. The transition period may be critical in terms of food resources, because the death rate falls before the birth rate. Technological changes must accompany population growth, otherwise the regular agricultural production cycle regular agricultural production cycle is broken due to the depletion of the soils, the reduction of fallow periods and the lack of crop rotation.
15. Is rapid population growth a cause or a consequence of underdevelopment? Except in extreme cases, population density cannot account for hunger. Let us look first at the following facts. It was in the overpopulated deltas and valleys of Asia that the "green revolution" agricultural innovations were first applied. Yet countries with small populations like Zaire or Zambia, which could have fed a population 20 times the size of their own without requiring any major irrigation schemes, are still short of food. The reason lies in the skewed measures imposed by governments and in economic management and policies, not in any objective causes or economic poverty. Today it is said that there is a greater chance of reducing excessive demographic growth by trying to reduce mass poverty than there is of combating poverty merely by reducing the population growth rate.
The demographic situation will only evolve slowly so long as families in the developing countries believe that their production capacity and their security can only be guaranteed by having a large number of children. It should once again be reiterated that it is generally economic and social changes that enable parents to accept the gift of a child. In this area, developments depend to a very large extent on the parents' socio-cultural background. Thought should therefore be given to educating couples in responsible planning of family size and the spacing of births in full respect for moral and ethical principles and in harmony with the true nature of the human being.
16. Depriving people of food has been used throughout history and is still used today as a political or military weapon. In some cases this is a veritable crime against humanity.
Yet there have been many such cases in the 20th century, such as:
a) Stalin's systematic withholding of food from Ukrainian peasants around 1930, causing the deaths of some 8 million people. This crime, which remained unknown, or almost, for a long time, was confirmed with the opening up of the Kremlin archives.
b) The recent sieges in Bosnia, particularly of Sarajevo, when even humanitarian aid itself was held hostage.
c) The resettlement of whole populations in Ethiopia to enable the one-party government to gain political control. Hundreds of thousands of people died as a result of the famine caused by forced migration and by abandoning the crops.
d) The cutting off of food to Biafra in the '70s was used as a weapon against political secession.
The collapse of the Soviet Union has helped to remove one of the causes of civil wars, the provocation by direct Soviet intervention or reaction to its intervention including: revolutions resolving nothing, displaced populations, the breakdown of organized agriculture, tribal strife and genocide. However, many situations still remain, or have reemerged, which could give rise to the same phenomena once again. Even though possibly not on the same scale, these are no less damaging to the people. Today's situations are mainly a matter of resurgent nationalism being fostered by a few ideologically driven regimes, local repercussions of struggles for influence between the developed countries and power struggles in certain countries, especially in Africa.
Also noteworthy are the embargoes imposed for political reasons against countries such as Cuba or Iraq. These are regimes deemed to be a threat to international security which keep their own people hostage. Indeed, it is the people themselves who are the first to fall victim to such acts of force. This is why the costs, in humanitarian terms, of such decisions must be carefully taken into account. Furthermore, some leaders play on the misery of their people, brought about by their actions, in order to force the international community to resume supplies. These are situations that have to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis in the spirit of the World Declaration on Nutrition, which states that "food aid must not be denied because of political affiliation, geographic location, gender, age, ethnic, tribal or religious identity."
Last, political actions can also have repercussions in terms of hunger. On a number of occasions we have seen developed countries with agricultural surpluses exporting these surpluses (for example wheat) free of cost to misdeveloping countries whose staple diet is rice. The purpose is to underpin domestic commodity prices. These free exports have had very negative effects, altering the people's eating habits and discouraging the local farmers, who need to be strongly encouraged to produce more.
17. Economic disparities within the misdeveloping countries are greater than those that exist in developed countries or even between the countries themselves. Wealth and power are highly concentrated in a restricted but complex section of society that is in contact with the international arena and is able to control the state apparatus, which is itself full of shortcomings. This holds up all chance of improvement and even causes economic and social decline.
Differences in living standards not only give rise to conflict, which can lead to a spiral of violence, but these differences further encourage patronage as the only means of achieving personal self-fulfillment. As a result, all purely economic initiatives are paralyzed, while the altruism that exists in all traditional societies is seriously jeopardized. In such situations, the state often has a major part to play, enabling it to encourage the export sector which is good in itself—but leaving little profit for the local people as a whole.
In other cases, as a result of weakness or political ambition, the authorities set agricultural commodity prices at such low levels that the small farmers actually subsidize the town-dwellers, which encourages rural exodus. The mass media, electronics and advertising also contribute to the population drain from the countryside. Development aid to such countries then becomes a more or less indirect source of encouragement to the governments that pursue these dangerous policies, benefiting as they do from this financial support which is totally illegitimate, because these are policies that fly in the face of the real interests of their people. The industrial countries should ask themselves whether they may unfortunately have been sending out negative signals in this regard over so many years.
18. Economic and social destructuring stems both from bad economic policies as well as national and international political pressure (cf. Nos. 11-13 and 17). Here are a few of the most frequently found and most harmful examples of this:
a) National policies which artificially lower agricultural commodity prices to the detriment of local food producers under pressure from the deprived town-dwellers, who are seen as a potential threat to the political stability of the country. This situation became widespread in Africa during 1975-85 and caused local output to slump. Many countries with a substantial agricultural potential, such as Zaire and Zambia, became net food importers for the first time.
b) Most industrial countries pursue a policy which widely protects their own agriculture and encourages overproduction, which is exported at prices lower than the domestic level (the price of dumping). Without such protection, world prices would be higher, benefiting other producing countries. The beneficiaries of such protection in Europe are currently enjoying an unfair advantage after years of receiving production incentives, which have led to serious destructuring of the whole agricultural system.
Although this policy is supported by local public opinion at large, it may be basically contrary to the general interest of world consumers, privileged and poorest alike. In protected countries, this is the expense of protection. In countries without such protection it is the local farmers who, as an essential component of the well-being of any country, are penalized by importation at reduced prices, thus lowering the domestic agriculture prices and speeding the demise of the local farmers and their migration to cities.
c) Traditional food crops are often threatened by poorly targeted economic development. For example, traditional commodities are being replaced by industrial agriculture for both export (large volumes of agricultural commodities are earmarked for export and are dependent upon international agricultural markets) and local substitute commodities (for example, sugar cane in Brazil to produce alcohol for vehicle fuel in order to reduce oil imports has caused the migration of large numbers of uprooted peasants).
19. Despite the enormous errors mentioned above, it should not be forgotten that no-less-spectacular progress has been responsible for increasing the world population from 3 billion to 5.3 billion over 30 years (1960-1990). In the developing countries, "Life expectancy at birth [has risen] from 46 years in 1960 to 62 years in 1987. They halved the mortality rates for children under 5 and immunized two-thirds of all l-year-olds against major childhood diseases.... The per capita average-calorie supply increased by 20 percent between 1965 and 1985."
Between 1950 and 1980, total world food production doubled, and at the present time "globally there is enough food for all." The fact that people continue to starve despite this shows that the problem is structural and that "inequitable access is the main problem." It is a mistake to gauge the actual food consumption of households merely by the statistical parameter of per capita cereals availability. Hunger is not a problem of availability, but of meeting demand. It is an issue of poverty. It should also be noted that the survival of a multitude of individuals is guaranteed by the informal economy; by definition, this is undeclared, difficult to quantify and unreliable.
20. The world agri-food markets trade in a certain number of commodities which are not always the ones consumed in most of the misdeveloping countries. Excessive price fluctuations are against the interests of both producers and consumers. These fluctuations are caused by spontaneous adjustment mechanisms and amplified by specific features of the relevant markets. Attempts to stabilize them have all proven fairly unsatisfactory, if not to say harmful, to producers. Furthermore, the raising of prices is made impossible by the way the markets themselves operate. The small number of international trading corporations prevents price manipulation and constitutes an impenetrable barrier to any new market entrants. This is always unhealthy.
Developing production capacities has much more to do with disseminating advances in production techniques (progress in genetics and implementation). We note that Indonesia's average rice output has risen from 4 tons to 15 tons per hectare in the space of one generation, far outstripping its already record population growth rate. In most countries where agriculture is making progress, yields are improving to such an extent that output is increasing, sometimes very steeply, despite the sharp decline in the number of farmers.
21. Intensive farming is increasingly being accused of damaging the environment and threatening such natural resources as water and land, particularly because of the ill-advised use of fertilizers and plant health products. A preliminary definition of agricultural intensification is the increase in the ratio of intermediate consumption—mainly by industry—to agricultural acreage employed. Agricultural technologies are now becoming independent of the land, which is their natural medium. The reciprocity which formerly linked them is being reduced and replaced by a more hazardous duality between agricultural technology and the economic environment.
Agricultural intensification generally requires substantial capital investment. But most of the developing countries still practice subsistence farming, based mainly on human "capital," with limited technical resources and difficulties in finding adequate water supplies. Even though the "green revolution" has been fairly successful, it has not managed to solve the food production problems for a large number of developing countries.
It is certainly possible to predict progress to improve intensive farming and to limit damage to the environment. But as in the developed countries, other production systems should be used which will better conserve natural resources and ensure widespread ownership of productive land. Crop and livestock farmers' associations, joint management of water supplies and the creation of cooperatives should be encouraged to move in this direction.
22. In order to make progress with solving the problem of hunger and malnutrition throughout the world, it is indispensable to grasp the ethical nature of the whole issue.
If the cause of hunger is a moral evil, above and beyond all the physical, structural and cultural causes, the challenges are also of a moral nature. This is capable of motivating all men and women of good will who believe in the universal values of every culture, particularly Christians who experience the preferential relationship which the almighty Lord wishes to establish with all men and women without distinction.
This challenge involves acquiring a better understanding of the phenomena, people's capacity for mutual service—which may be done merely through the interplay of well-understood economic forces and also doing away with corruption of every kind. Apart from all this, the challenge lies above all at the level of freedom for every person to cooperate in the advancement of all human beings and the integral human being in their daily work, namely, by working together to foster the development of the common good. This kind of development involves social justice and the universal destination of the goods of the earth, the practice of solidarity and subsidiarily, peace and respect for the physical environment. This is the direction that must be taken in order to restore hope and build up a world that is more welcoming to future generations.
In order to make this progress possible, the organic pursuit of the common good must be protected, promoted and, where necessary, reactivated as a central component of the basic motivations in the thinking and work of everyone engaged in politics and the economy, at all levels and in every country.
Personal and institutional motivations are necessary to ensure the sound operation of society, which includes families. But all people must accept this conversion personally and collectively, so that striving for the common good is not sacrificed to serving their own strictly personal interests or the interests of their kinsmen, employers, clans or countries, however legitimate all these may be.
The principles which the church has gradually emphasized in her social teaching, therefore, provide valuable guidance for combating hunger. The pursuit of the common good combines the following:
—The quest for greater efficiency in the management of earthly goods.
—Greater respect for social justice, which is possible through the universal destination of goods.
—The skillful and constant practice of subsidiarily, which assures those in power against having the power taken from them, which in reality is a power to serve others.
—The practice of solidarity, which prevents the appropriation of financial resources by the affluent and protects all people from being excluded from social and economic life and deprived of their fundamental dignity.
It is, therefore, the whole of the social teaching of the church which must imbue the thinking of our leaders in all that is done, whether consciously or otherwise.
This statement might well be greeted with skepticism or even cynicism. Many leaders operate in a harsh, sometimes cruel, environment, which gives rise to distress and causes them to proudly seek power for the sake of power and to retain it. Such individuals might perhaps be inclined to consider ethical considerations as handicaps. Yet our frequent daily experience, in a wide variety of different environments, shows this not to be the case. Only balanced development for the common good will prove authentic and contribute in the long term to social stability. At every level and in every country many people are working constantly and discreetly, respectful of the legitimate interests of their fellow beings.
The huge task facing Christians everywhere is to foster conduct of this kind. Like a small amount of yeast in very hard dough, they are called by a close adhesion to the love which our Lord has for all people: a love experienced in the very depths of one's being.
This exciting task is to set an example at every level: technical, organizational, moral and spiritual. It involves mutual assistance at every level of responsibility, which includes all those who are not "excluded" by their own social conditions.
23. Striving in this way for the common good must necessarily be underpinned by concern for and love of humanity. In the most varied situations, people are faced daily with the alternative between personal and collective self-destruction or love for our neighbor. Love for our neighbor therefore demonstrates our awareness that there is a responsibility from which one cannot shrink when faced with our own limitations or with the enormous magnitude of the duties to be performed out of love for all men and women. "How would history judge a generation which had all the means to feed the population of the planet and yet with fratricidal indifference refused to do so?... Would a world in which poverty fails to encounter life-giving love not be a desert?"
Love is far more than mere giving. Development is cultivated through the work of those who have the greatest courage, the greatest competence and honesty. These leaders feel solidarity with all humanity, and humanity is affected, to a greater or lesser degree, whether near or far, by what these individuals do or should be doing. This concrete universal responsibility is an essential manifestation of altruism.
Solidarity is obviously a demand that is placed on all. Fortunately, it is not necessary to wait for the majority of humanity to be converted to love of their neighbor in order to gather the fruits of the work of those acting in their own particular situation without waiting. Hope must be drawn from the results of the work of such persons who, in their daily work at all levels, act in the service of the integral human being and of all humanity.
24. At the very heart of social justice lies the principle of the universal and common destination of the goods of the earth. Pope John Paul II has expressed it in the following words: "God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favoring anyone." This constant affirmation in the Christian tradition is not sufficiently reiterated, even though it is evidently of relevance to the whole of humanity, irrespective of creed.
This axiom is a necessary foundation on which to build a society based on justice, peace and solidarity. For, generation after generation, we must see ourselves as the temporary stewards of the resources of the earth and the production system. In consideration of the purposes of creation, the right to property is not absolute. It is one of the expressions of the dignity of each person. However, only if it is ordered to the common good and when it assists the advancement of all is it just. This is exercised and recognized in different ways in different cultures.
25. Ignorance of the common good goes hand in hand with the exclusive and sometimes excessive pursuit of particular goods such as money, power or reputation when viewed as absolutes to be sought for their own sakes: namely as idols. This is what created the "structures of sin," all those places and circumstances in which habits are perverse and which demand proof of heroism on the part of all new arrivals if one is to avoid acquiring such habits.
The "structures of sin" are numerous and vary in scope. Some are worldwide, for example the mechanisms and the conduct which create hunger. Others are on a much smaller scale but equally capable of creating imbalances, thus making it more difficult to do good to the people affected by them. These "structures" always generate high costs in human terms and are the places in which the common good is destroyed.
Their costly and degrading effects in economic terms are less often commented upon. One could cite a number of striking examples of this. Development is not only hampered by ignorance and incompetence. There are also many large-scale "structures of sin" which deliberately steer the goods of the earth away from their true purpose, that of serving the good of all, toward private and sterile ends in a process which spreads contagiously.
It is obvious that the human being cannot subject and dominate the earth effectively while adoring the false gods of money, power and reputation, considered to be ends in themselves and not means for serving each man and women and all humanity. Greed, pride and vanity blind those who fall prey to them, eventually preventing them from realizing the limitations of their perceptions and the self-destructive nature of their actions.
In view of the universal destination of goods, money, power and reputation must be sought so as to:
a) Create means of production of goods and services which will have a truly useful social purpose and promote the common good.
b) Share with the deprived, who embody the need for the common good in the eyes of all men and women of good will. The deprived are the living witnesses of the lack of this common good. For Christians, the deprived are indeed the cherished children of God, who comes to visit us through them and in them.
Pursuing these riches as an absolute good in themselves robs them wholly or partially of utility for the common good. The world economic system is globally mediocre (in comparison with the peak performances achieved in some countries for quite considerable periods of time), so costly in human terms (when it functions properly and where it does not function at all), paying dearly for bad habits and imposing a veritable moral yoke on people.
Conversely, as soon as groups of men and women begin working together in order to take due account of the need to serve the whole community and each individual member of it, remarkable developments can be achieved. People previously deemed rather useless become outstanding for the quality of their services, and a positive effect gradually improves the material, psychological and moral conditions of their lives. This is really the "obverse" of the "structures of sin." One might call them the "structures of the common good" which pave the way to the "civilization of man." Our experience in such situations gives some idea of what the world might be like if people were more concerned about the common interests and the fate of each man and woman in all they do and in the exercise of all their responsibilities .
26. If the poor, in the economic sense of the term, bear witness to the lack of concern for the common good, they have something specific to tell us.
They have their own opinions and experiences with regard to real daily life about which the better-off know nothing. As John Paul II said in his encyclical letter <Centesimus Annus>:
"It will be necessary above all to abandon a mentality in which the poor—as individuals and as peoples—are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced.... The advancement of the poor constitutes a great opportunity for the moral, cultural and even economic growth of all humanity."
The views of those living in poverty—which are no more accurate or complete than those of the leaders—are, however, essential to leaders if they desire to ensure long-term work which does not lead to self-destruction. Embarking upon difficult and costly social and economic policies without taking account of the perception of reality by the most humble members of society can eventually lead to extremely costly dead-ends for the whole world.
This is what has happened in the case of Third World debt. If the lenders and the borrowers had heeded the personal opinions of the poorest people, as one of the essential elements of reality, greater wisdom would have meant greater caution, and in very many countries the adventure would not have turned out so badly or it may have turned out well.
Considering the complexity of the problems to be solved, or rather the complexity of living conditions to be improved, giving preference to heeding the poor will prevent us from falling into the slavery of short-term perspective, technocracy, bureaucracy, ideology or idolatry regarding the role of the state or the role of the market. Each of these has its essential usefulness, but only as a means and never as an absolute end.
Intermediate entities have the main function of ensuring that the voices of those living in poverty are heard and of collecting their views, needs and desires. But these entities are often quite inadequate for the task, suffering either from the fact of occupying a monopolistic position which leads them to cultivate their own power or competing with others who seek to use the poor as a means of acquiring power. The work of the trade unions is therefore particularly necessary, verging on heroism when they strive to perform such an essential function without being destroyed or taken over.
Under these conditions, sharing becomes genuine cooperation and collaboration in which every person contributes to all that the human community needs. The poorest play their role, which is essential, particularly in view of the fact that in reality they are excluded. This is a paradoxical situation which should not surprise the Christian.
The duty to give every person the same right of access to the indispensable minimum to live on does not stem merely from a moral imperative to share with the poor, which is already a major obligation. The duty is also to reincorporate those living in poverty into the community as a whole, which without them tends to wither and can eventually be destroyed. People living in poverty do not belong on the sidelines in a marginalized position. Everything must be done to prevent this. They must be placed at the very center of our concerns, at the center of the human family. It is there that the poor can play a unique role within the community.
It is in this perspective that social justice, which is also commutative justice, acquires its full significance. As the basis of every action in the defense of rights, it guarantees social cohesion, peaceful coexistence between nations, but also their common development.
27. The concept of justice rooted in human solidarity, and by that very characteristic requiring the strongest to come to the aid of the weakest, should guide our steps wherever the voice of the poor is heard, working to create a world in which justice, peace and charity are jointly guaranteed.
Societies cannot be properly built up by excluding some of their members. To be consistent, this evidently means that people living in poverty are also entitled to organize themselves so as to better obtain assistance for enabling them to free themselves from poverty.
28. Lasting peace is not the result of a balance of forces, but of a balance of rights. Peace is not the fruit of the victory of the strongest over the weakest, but fruit of the victory of justice over unjust privileges, of freedom over tyranny, of truth over falsehood within and among peoples, of development over hunger, poverty or humiliation. In order to establish true peace and real international security, it is not sufficient to prevent war and conflict. Development must also be fostered, creating the right conditions to fully guarantee fundamental human rights. In this context, democracy and disarmament become two of the requirements of peace, which is indispensable for all genuine development.
29. Regional conflicts have cost the lives of about 17 million people in under 50 years. "In the 1980s, world military expenditures grew to an unprecedented peacetime level; at an estimated [annual] $1 trillion [1 million], they accounted for roughly 5 percent of total world income."
This demonstrates the importance and urgent need for all political and economic leaders to ensure that the vast amounts of money earmarked for death, in the Northern Hemisphere as in the Southern Hemisphere, should henceforth be earmarked for life. Such an attitude would be the practical implementation of the moral grounds militating in favor of progressive disarmament. Such a course would also provide the opportunity to release substantial financial resources for the benefit of developing countries and vital for their authentic progress.
One particularly resilient "structure of sin" is the export of weapons. This occurs in quantities which far exceed the lawful self-defense needs of the purchasing countries or even the use by international traffickers, whose catalogues, produced for the benefit of those who can afford to pay, contain the most highly sophisticated weapons. In this field corruption is rife; but the evil caused is even more deep-seated. Congratulations are due to those governments which, on coming to power after regimes that had formerly committed their countries to purchasing weapons far in excess of their needs, have found the courage to terminate such agreements with the risk of losing good will and the support of arms-exporting countries.
30. At present, nature is teaching all a lesson in solidarity that could easily be forgotten. In the very act of producing food, everyone discovers that they are either active or passive component parts of an ecosystem. A new sphere of responsibility is opening up to people's consciences.
The pretense of pretending to want to provide more food to more people and at the same time weaken agriculture cannot continue. Agriculture seems to be contributing more pollution (with the wholesale use of fertilizer, pesticides and machines) as it reaches the industrial stage, before having developed the capacity to work without polluting. In addition to the other elements necessary in life, the atmosphere, water, soil and the woodlands are all threatened by pollution, over-consumption, man-made de certification and deforestation. In the space of 50 years, half the tropical forests have been cleared, more often than not in the quest for more land or because of short-term policies to intensify farming in order to offset the debt burden. In the poorest regions, desertification is being caused by survival practices that actually are increasing poverty. These include overgrazing as well as felling trees and shrubs for cooking and heating.
31. It is urgently necessary to manage this planet in an ecologically sustainable manner. From the viewpoint of agri-food production, which is already substantial, there are two elements to be considered.
First of all, this sort of environmentally friendly management will have a cost which will need to be incorporated into economic activity. We should be asking ourselves whether it will always be those living in poverty who have to bear this burden to the detriment of their nutrition.
Second, of concern is the gaining of a better understanding of the linkage of ecology and the economy within the current notion of sustainable development. But this objective must not distract from the need to put even greater effort into promoting equitable development. In the end, development cannot be sustainable unless equitable. Otherwise it is likely that the present distortions will be compounded by new ones.
32. Hunger and malnutrition require specific actions which cannot be separated from that of striving to achieve the integral development and advancement of all human beings and peoples. Faced with the magnitude of this phenomenon, the Catholic Church must increasingly contribute to improving the situation. She is therefore appealing to everyone for their participation, concerted effort and perseverance.
Fortunately, much has already been done by individuals, non-governmental organizations, government authorities and international organizations to combat hunger. We would merely recall the Freedom From Hunger campaign and other initiatives in which Christians readily take part.
33. There is little appreciation of how dynamic the poor really are. To remedy this, a great many attitudes and practices—economic, social, cultural and political—have to be changed. When people living in poverty are excluded from taking part in drafting projects of relevance to them, history has demonstrated that, overall, little benefit is derived from such projects.
The solidarity of the human community must be built up. It will not be possible to learn to share our daily bread unless it is agreed to redirect our consciences and work throughout the whole of society. Such attitudes lead to genuine democracy.
Democracy is generally acknowledged to be essential to human development because it enables everyone to play a responsible part in the governance of society. Moreover, the two go together and the weakness of one can jeopardize the other. If the principle of equality yields to force, the place of the poor in society may be reduced to the bare minimum. A democracy is judged in terms of the way it manages to dovetail freedom and solidarity, radically distancing itself from absolute liberalism or other doctrines that deny the sense of freedom or which act as stumbling blocks to genuine solidarity.
34. Faced with misery and poverty, more people and groups are increasingly choosing to take part in community action everywhere. These initiatives must be strongly encouraged. At the present time, more countries are increasingly supporting people's participation. But in some places attempts are still being made to thwart these initiatives where they are a source of irritation—sometimes with very dire consequences—even though they are the indispensable foundations of genuine development.
The non-governmental organizations set up locally to undertake development work have encouraged the constitution of a new people-based civil society in many developing countries. These non-governmental organizations have devised a wide range of different ways to work together and provide support. Thanks to the impetus given by the people who have paved the way, many of the very poorest people are now able to break free of poverty and improve their plight in terms of hunger and malnutrition.
Over the last few years, Catholic international associations and new ecclesial communities have embarked on initiatives in the socioeconomic field. In combating hunger and poverty, those groups have been basing their work on the medieval guilds, and above all, the cooperative unions in the 19th century when advocates of the common good created institutions according to the spirit of the Gospel or based on social solidarity.
The first person to emphasize the need to create organizations for social advancement was the Quaker P.C. Plockboy (d. 1695). Other pioneers of notoriety are Felicite Robert de Lamennais (1782-1854), Adolf Kolping (d. 1856), Robert Owen (1771-1858) and Baron Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler (1811-1877). Today associations are coming into being to advance the common good of society and to stave off selfishness, pride and greed, which are often the laws that govern community life. These experiences throughout history and the achievements of these new initiatives bode well for the future.
35. "One of the great successes of the non-governmental organizations has been to give the poor access to credit." This access by people living in poverty has become a defining practice today, thus enabling an informal subsistence economy to make progress toward the formation of a real grass-roots economic fabric. Perhaps it is not yet possible to be able to calculate the gross national product accurately, but its importance also lies in that which it signifies and heralds. Supporting community initiatives and relying on local partners prevents the persistence of an aid-driven approach, making it possible to gradually lay the foundations for integral development.
36. Women play a primary role in combating hunger and fostering development, but their role is not always adequately acknowledged and appreciated. It is important to emphasize the essential role that women play in the survival of whole populations, especially in Africa.
Often it is the women who produce the bulk of food for their family. Particularly in the developing countries, they are responsible for providing their family members with a wholesome and balanced diet. However, women become the first victims of decisions taken without their knowledge, such as decisions to abandon particular food crops and local markets of which they are the main operators. Such treatment shows a failure to respect women and hampers development. Under these conditions, the transition to the market economy and the introduction of technologies can, despite the best intentions, make the drudgery of women even worse.
Malnutrition particularly affects women, who are the first to suffer. This has further repercussions on their childbearing and affects the health and education prospects of their young children.
But the purpose of this effort, to highlight the role of women in the fight against hunger and malnutrition and in favor of development, must form part of a more ambitious framework. It should be one designed to enhance the social status of women in the poor countries by providing them with greater access to health care, vocational training and credit. This will enable women to make their full contribution in increasing production, fostering development, and in the economic and political evolution of their countries.
Progress must, however, ensure that the roles of men and women are preserved without driving a wedge between them and without feminizing men or masculinizing women. As the status of women improves, as is hoped, sight should not be lost of the attention women must provide to newly created and developing life. Some developing countries are setting a positive example by curbing excesses that now occur in the West with regard to altering the sensitivity of women, without shutting women up in their traditional role. In this sphere, the mistakes made in the past must not be repeated by playing down traditional structures to boost Western models, which are particularly unsuitable for local situations if adopted without adjustment.
37. Last, it is absolutely essential to motivate all the parties acting in society and in the economy to favor development policies whose priority objective is to give all people an equal chance to live with dignity, making all the necessary effort and sacrifices to achieve this. However, this is impossible if those who occupy posts of responsibility fail to give unambiguous signs of their integrity and to demonstrate their sense of the common good.
The flight of capital and the wasting or misappropriating of resources for the benefit of a minority based on kinship, social and ethnic ties or political affiliations are widespread and well known to the public. Such errant behavior is frequently denounced. But this does not really encourage those responsible to refrain from these activities, which are damaging to those living in poverty particularly when done on a large scale.
It is often corruption that hampers the reforms needed to pursue the common good and ensure justice, which go hand in hand. Corruption has many causes. Yet it is always a very serious abuse of the trust placed by society in those appointed to represent that society and who exploit this social authority for personal gain. Corruption is one of the constituent elements of many "structures of sin," and the cost to the planet is far superior to the sum total of all the funds embezzled.
38. Increased wealth is necessary for development. However, major macroeconomic reforms—which always hold down incomes—can fail when the structural reforms are not undertaken with the necessary political courage and energy. This is true particularly in the public sector when reforming the role of the state as well as political and social obstacles. These reforms cause suffering, which is to no avail, and precipitate yet another reversal. These stringent and sometimes excessively harsh reforms are always accompanied by aid from the international community. But the international community also brings pressure to bear in the political sphere, often at the request of politicians, in order to force the country to face its choices and help the politicians take decisions which the developed countries adopted at the time of postwar reconstruction.
Part of the duty of international institutions is, after consultations with governments, to incorporate into the plans drawn up by governments targeted provisions to relieve the suffering of those who will be most seriously impacted by these necessary measures. It is the duty of international institutions to foster trust and confidence in the national leaders so as to enable the country to qualify for financial support from public and private lenders.
International institutions must also bring pressure to bear on the government so that every sector of society can play a part in the joint effort. Otherwise, the government will not be able to move in the direction of the common good and social justice, which are so difficult to safeguard even to a minor degree under these circumstances.
In order to achieve this, the personnel of international institutions need to work, as they are fortunately accustomed to doing, with technical rigor. But they must also show concern for the people. This concern is something that cannot be inculcated by bureaucratic instructions or by a purely economics-oriented background. This is precisely where giving preference to listening to those living in poverty must be particularly carefully practiced. Specific provisions must be envisaged for this, by joint agreement with the non-governmental organizations and Catholic associations, both of which are in contact with and at the service of the most vulnerable people. One can never emphasize enough the importance of this point. It is essential. Yet national and international leaders easily neglect it because the technical work already gives rise to considerable difficulties.
Generally speaking, all international and national organizations having permanent and ongoing contacts with each misdeveloping country must establish personal and unofficial lines of communication between the people in the field serving the population and the technical personnel defining the reform plans. This has to be done in a spirit of mutual trust between people sharing a common service to all humanity and each man and woman, so as to avoid falling prey to economism and ideology.
39. The richest countries have a major responsibility in the process of reforming the world economy. In recent times, at least, they have given priority to relations with countries undergoing economic takeoff—that is to say, the true developing countries—and also with countries in Eastern Europe whose development can pose a geographically close threat.
The rich countries have their own economically poor and need to embark on difficult reforms in their own territories. They are, therefore, tempted to relegate the economically poor in the misdeveloping countries to a secondary plane. "We are not responsible for the world's poverty," is something that one hears frequently in the globally rich countries.
If such an attitude were to become common, it would be both unworthy and shortsighted. All people, regardless of location, but particularly those who possess economic resources and wield political authority, must constantly allow themselves to be challenged by the poverty of the most deprived so that the interests of those living in poverty are taken into account in decision making and action. This is an appeal addressed to everyone responsible for decisions affecting the developing countries.
It is also addressed to all in every country and at the international level who are de facto holding up the possibility of pursuing the common good in order to protect interests which in themselves may be wholly legitimate. Protecting these vested interests in such countries may cause hunger to persist in some parts of the world without being able to accurately identify a causal link or even victims. That makes it easy to deny their existence. Other forms of conservatism, at other levels and in other places, can also contribute to these same bottlenecks.
The reform of international trade continues apace and continues to be advocated. It concerns, above all, the poor people in affluent countries. This is why it is vital for these priorities not to conceal the plight of people living in poverty in poor countries, who have virtually no one to speak out for them internationally. They must be given back their central place in international concerns, in common with the other priorities. However, the "poverty eradication" priorities that the World Bank laid down several years ago are extremely welcome.
The leaders of developing countries should not rely on some hypothetical international reform before embarking on reforms in their own countries. Such reforms are often needed, evidently, to foster some degree of economic takeoff. This takeoff does not depend on any specific recipes, but its requirements demand a bold and unflagging implementation of simple rules. Rules which make it possible for those who are able to take sound initiatives to do so and to retain part of the rewards of the efforts. Further, they prevent persons incapable of drawing on national resources from being rewarded without regard for their own contribution.
Nations must realize that they "are primarily responsible and that they are the principal artisans in the promotion of their own economic development and social progress." As identified earlier, it is the responsibility of governments and institutions dealing with the developing countries to clearly spell out their preference for responsible and fearless attitudes in the service of the national communities.
40. Authorities of globally rich countries must influence public opinion to become sensitive to the plight of the poor, whether near or far. It is also their responsibility to strongly support the work being done by international organizations to deal with these sufferings, helping them to adopt immediate and enduring measures to root out hunger worldwide. This is what the church has been demanding of everyone with such determination for over 100 years, insisting that, among other things, the rights of the weakest are protected by the authorities themselves.
In order to sensitize and mobilize the international community, particularly with regard to the ethical dimension of these issues, outspoken references are made in many texts published by such bodies as the Economic and Social Council (particularly the Commission on Human Rights) and UNICEF.
Restricting our references to the works published by the Food and Agriculture Organization, which is well-known in this connection, there is striking evidence of the convergence just mentioned between the teaching of the church and the increasing efforts deployed by the international community in a number of instruments such as the Peasants' Charter set out in the World Declaration on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (1979), the World Food Security Compact (1985), the World Declaration on Nutrition and the Plan of Action adopted by the World Nutrition Conference (1992).
These are included without overlooking the various politically and morally mandatory codes of best practice or international undertakings on pesticides, plant genetic resources, etc. It is important to note that this ethical point of view was recently adopted by the World Bank.
Human development will not come about as a result of economic mechanisms operating alone; a belief that all that is necessary is to encourage them. The economy will only become more human and humane if a whole range of reforms are carried out at every level. Designed to provide the best possible service for the genuine common good, these reforms must take an ethical approach based on the infinite value of each man and woman and of all humanity. That is an economy which allows itself to be inspired by "the need to build relationships between peoples on the basis of a constant 'exchange of gifts,' a real 'culture of giving' which should make every country prepared to meet the needs of the less fortunate."
41. If the markets are to operate in a way that fosters development, sound regulation is needed. The market has its own laws which range beyond the decision-making capacity of those involved, however numerous and sufficiently independent they may be. This is the case for raw materials markets, despite the great efforts undertaken by governments—also a number of international institutions, particularly the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development—as well as by the private sector. For political and humanitarian reasons it is not possible to ignore the price levels resulting from the blind operation of the markets. However, it is essential to prevent any attempts to manipulate them.
It is the responsibility of the importing countries to remove barriers and to refrain from raising new ones to selectively keep out exports from countries where a major proportion of the population is suffering from hunger. Importing countries must also ensure that the profits from such commercial operations largely benefit the most deprived. This is a very sensitive issue which requires a fearless and unambiguous attitude.
42. As indicated earlier, since 1985 the international community has been managing the debt burden. Its prime concern is to avoid the destruction of the financial system which holds together the financial institutions in every country. It is thanks to this system that in different countries and from one crisis to another the debts have been consolidated and all the debtors of one and the same country placed on an equal level. This is neither legal nor socially just. Conversely, all the lenders have been led to waive a proportion of their debt claims, varying in each case. This demands a great deal of fair-mindedness and vigilance so that the brave and reform-minded countries are not penalized more than others.
It is evident that the debt needs to be substantially reduced still further. But it is right that this reduction should be accompanied by reforms—in every country—to ensure that the circumstances that originally gave rise to the debt situation are not forgotten and there is no repetition of the same mistakes, including: excessive and poorly targeted public expenditure, local private development without relevance to the national economy, excessive competition between lending and exporting countries, and encouraging unnecessary and even detrimental sales. In any case, it must be acknowledged that conditions in the misdeveloping countries cannot be improved unless there is greater stability in the social and political/institutional framework.
43. For the second development decade, UNCTAD set the target for aid to the developing countries at 0.7 percent of gross national product of the industrialized countries. This target has only been achieved by a few countries but it was recently redefined at the Copenhagen summit. On average, aid to developing countries currently stands at 0.33 percent, which is not even one-half of the target!
The fact that some countries achieve the target and others do not clearly shows that solidarity depends upon the determination of peoples and governments, and not on any automatic technical mechanisms. A greater share of this aid should also be set aside to finance projects in which the poor themselves have a role in the design. Since political leaders of democratic countries depend on public opinion at home, they must seek to broadly enlist public support to make it more clearly aware of the issues and stakes involved in the development assistance budget.
"We all share responsibility for the fact that populations are undernourished. [Therefore], it is necessary to arouse a sense of responsibility in individuals and generally, especially among those more blessed with this world's goods."
Government aid raises many ethical problems, both to the donor countries and the beneficiaries. The moralization of fresh money circuits is a difficult problem everywhere, and the ethical shortcomings may benefit interest groups or lobbies, official or otherwise, in exporting countries. In this way, situations of power which could be described in terms of "structures of sin" become firmly "locked in," fostering patronage on all sides.
Powerful mechanisms hold back genuine reform and the development of the common good. These can have formidable consequences, such as local unrest and intertribal strife in countries that are vulnerable in this respect.
Combating these "structures of sin" is a source of great hope for the most deprived countries.
44. It is the responsibility of the industrialized countries not only to increase their aid to the developing countries, but also to reappraise the way in which it is distributed. Conditional aid is to be criticized when considered in terms of the lending or donor country and when it is tied or linked to conditionalities that bind the recipient country to: purchasing goods manufactured in the donor state, using specialized expatriate labor to the detriment of local labor, complying with structural adjustment programs, etc.
Conversely, unconditioned aid may be considered to truly produce the best results, as evidenced in multiple cases. However, this does not mean that conditional aid should be discarded out of hand, provided that it is designed in such a way that it fairly distributes the benefits to all the parties concerned and makes it possible to manage soundly the resources provided.
45. Emergency food aid deserves comment, since it is sometimes criticized for not tackling the root causes of hunger. Some view it as a humanitarian activity. Still others perceive it as a development lever, while some even consider it as a trade weapon. It is faulted for: discouraging local farmers; changing feeding habits; being a tool for bringing political pressure to bear by creating dependency; arriving too late; fostering a free handout mentality; profiting ultimately only the middlemen; encouraging corruption and not getting through to the poorest people.
In some countries food aid is extended endlessly, not without reason, and eventually becomes established as a structural fact. It then becomes a form of permanent balance of payments aid by reducing the national deficit. This aid can also be provided at a difficult period of structural adjustment as an accompanying measure, after consumption subsidies for basic commodities have been abolished. Emergency food aid must remain a temporary solution, and its purpose is strictly that of enabling people to survive through a crisis. As a humanitarian measure, it cannot in principle be challenged. It is only deviations in food aid that give rise to criticism.
Among these criticisms: It often arrives late or does not meet the real needs; its distribution is poorly organized or misdirected by political or ethnic factors or patronage; because of theft and corruption, the food does not always reach the poorest people. Other criticisms note that emergency food aid is sustainable structural aid that some consider to be a development lever, while others view it as a trade weapon, a factor which destabilizes production and feeding habits, causing dependency.
In reality, its effects can be both beneficial and harmful. Apart from the fact that it enables whole populations to survive, all its positive aspects—such as the infrastructure work that it makes possible, tripartite transactions and the buildup of reserves in the developing countries-should not be forgotten. Even if it is a weapon that can be used for good or ill, it cannot be ignored.
46. Despite the criticisms leveled against it, emergency food aid could be improved by concerted action between all the partners in the chain: governments, local authorities, non-governmental organizations and church associations. Aid could be limited in time and be much better targeted for the people who are really suffering from food shortages. Local products should be used whenever possible.
Above all, emergency aid must help to free populations from their dependency. In order to do this, in addition to having adequate infrastructure and local distribution capacities, aid must always be accompanied by projects to enable the affected populations to take precautionary measures enabling them to guard against future food shortages. In this way, emergency or relief aid, under certain conditions, may be considered as an outstanding act of international solidarity. For "this kind of assistance does not bring a satisfactory solution as long as conditions of extreme poverty are allowed to continue and become even more acute, conditions which lead to increased deaths due to malnutrition and hunger."
47. The problem of hunger cannot be resolved without an improvement in local food security. "Food security exists when all people at all times have access to the food they need for a healthy, active life." It is therefore important to develop programs to exploit local production, while having at the same time effective legislation to protect croplands and guaranteeing access to them by the peasant population.
One of the reasons why this has not yet been done in the developing countries is that so many obstacles have been raised. It is becoming increasingly more difficult and complicated for economic and business leaders in the developing countries to even define an agricultural policy. Of the many reasons for this situation, the main ones are price and currency fluctuations, both effects of the overproduction of agricultural commodities. In order to guarantee food security, the stability and equity of international trade will also have to be facilitated.
48. It is now acknowledged that in every development process agriculture is of paramount importance. Whatever the state of international trade or the economic and political independence, the nutritional status of people in developing countries would be improved if agricultural systems were established, giving pride of place to their internal development while remaining open to the exterior. For this to be done, an economic and social environment must be created based on a better understanding and a better management of the following: local agricultural markets, rural credit development and vocational training, guarantee of remunerative local prices, improvement of the processing and marketing circuits for local products, genuine consultation between the developing countries, possibility for the small farmers to organize themselves and to collectively defend their own interests. All of these are tasks that depend on human skill and will.
49. Local food production is often hampered by poor land distribution and irrational land use. Over half the population in developing countries is landless, and this proportion is continually growing. Even though virtually all the developing countries have agrarian reform policies, few of them have actually implemented them. Moreover, the agricultural lands used by the multinational food corporations are almost solely used to feed the populations of the North. The exploitation of these lands is causing their depletion and exhaustion. It is urgently necessary to embark upon a "bold reform of the structures and new models of relations between governments and peoples."
50. The duties expected of political and financial leaders are of primary importance. However, in order to be able to tackle such huge challenges as hunger, malnutrition and poverty, everyone is called to ask themselves what they are doing and what more they might still do. This will require:
—The contribution of science: Intellectual elites are invited to marshal! their knowledge and influence in order to try to solve this problem. Biotechnology research, for example, can help to improve world food security, health care and energy supplies, both in the North and the South. The human sciences can provide a more accurate reading and a more just interpretation of social organization in order to reveal more clearly the discrepancies in existing systems and the evil effects engendered, in order to help redress them. They can also contribute toward defining and implementing new ways of establishing solidarity between peoples.
—The sensitization of individuals and whole peoples: Love of our neighbor is the duty of parents, educators, political leaders on all levels and media specialists. The latter have a major part to play in bringing about progress in the conscience of humanity.
—Authentic development in every country: Maximum importance must be given to the kind of education which is not merely a matter of handing on the knowledge needed for communication or for work of personal or public benefit. It must also lay the foundations for the human being's moral conscience. Any dichotomy between education and development must be removed. These are such interdependent objectives and are so strictly linked to one another that both of them must be pursued together if sustainable results are to be forthcoming. It is a duty in solidarity to enable everyone to benefit from "an education ... suitable to the particular destiny of all."
51. Over the past few decades a number of organizations founded by volunteers have come into being, joining others already in existence, to serve individuals and populations in difficulty. These international organizations are often known as Catholic international associations, Catholic international organizations and non-governmental organizations. They are held in high repute thanks to their dynamism.
These organizations have shown their courage in promoting the integral development of people living in poverty and in responding to emergency situations (famine and drought in this particular instance). They have experience in drawing attention to desperate situations, marshalling private and public resources and organizing relief in the field. Most of them have supplemented their battle against hunger over the years by embarking on a more forward-looking, longer-term activity to foster development. Their most evident successes include projects for new initiatives implemented locally and autonomously, and projects designed to strengthen local communities and institutions.
The Catholic Church has always (even long before non-governmental organizations first came into existence as such) encouraged, inspired and coordinated these efforts and resources through countless parish, diocesan, national and international associations and through large networks.
We wish to pay tribute here to the work of all the international organizations, whether they are directly Christian-inspired or whether they are religious or secular in inspiration.
52. The international organizations have a twofold mission: awareness building and action. While the second of these is obvious, the first is often unknown. Yet the two are inseparable. Prime importance must be given to sensitizing people to the reality and causes of misdevelopment wherever they are. Attracting private resources and making more people aware of the issues are crucial. It is necessary to build up this grass-roots base in order to increase official development assistance and change the "structures of sin."
53. The international organizations must work as real partners with the groups they assist. This produces a form of solidarity with a brotherly and sisterly face in dialogue and mutual trust while respectfully listening to one another.
John Paul II has given a sign of his particular interest in this very sensitive area of partnership by instituting the John Paul II for the Sahel Foundation to help combat desertification in the countries south of the Sahara, and the Populorum Progressio Foundation to help the poorest people of Latin America, both of which are managed by the local churches themselves in their respective regions.
54. In his apostolic letter <Tertio Millennio Adveniente>, Pope John Paul II, in looking forward to the celebration of the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ, recalls the very ancient practice of jubilees in the Old Testament, rooted in the concept of the sabbatical year. The sabbatical year was a time dedicated in a special way to God, and it occurred every seventh year, according to the law of Moses. During the year, the earth was left fallow, slaves were set free and all debts were canceled.
The jubilee year fell every 50 years, during which the customs of the sabbatical year were broadened still further. Israelite slaves were not only freed, but they were also given back their ancestral land. "You shall hallow the 50th year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family" (Lv. 25:10).
The theological basis of this redistribution was the following: "(Israelites) could never be completely deprived of the land because it belonged to God; nor could the Israelites remain forever in a state of slavery since God had 'redeemed' them for himself as his exclusive possession by freeing them from slavery in Egypt."
Here also we find once more the demand for the universal destination of goods. The social lien on the right to private property was thereby regularly expressed in public law in order to make up for the individual failures to comply with this demand. These failures include: the excessive desire for wealth, ill-gotten profits and so many other ways of exercising ownership, possession and knowledge, along with the denial of the fact that created goods must always serve everyone equitably.
This legal framework associated with the jubilee and the jubilee year formed the general blueprint for the church's social teaching, which was fashioned around the New Testament. Unfortunately, few concrete achievements accompanied the social ideal attached to the jubilee. What was needed was a just government, capable of imposing earlier precepts with the purpose of re-establishing a degree of social justice. The social teaching of the church, which has mainly developed since the 19th century, has partly transformed these precepts into an exceptional principle, essentially relating to the duty of the state and designed to restore to everyone their right to enjoy part of the goods of creation. This principle is regularly recalled and proposed to those who wish to heed it.
55. The practice of the jubilees refers fundamentally to divine providence and to the history of salvation. On the basis of this relationship, hunger and malnutrition may be considered to be a consequence of human sin, revealed in the very first verses of the Book of Genesis:
"The Lord said to Cain: 'Where is Abel your brother?' He said, 'I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" And the Lord said, 'What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth" (Gn. 4:9-12).
The image given here expresses with perfect clarity the relationship between respect for the dignity of the human person and the fertility of the ecological receptacle—the earth—that had now been sullied and broken. This relationship resounds like an echo throughout the whole of human history and probably formed the theological background of the relations of causality examined earlier when discussing hunger and malnutrition.
Everything happens as if the unpredictabilities of nature, often so unfavorable to the human being, are amplified by the consequences of an inordinate thirst for power and profit and by the "structures of sin" from which they stem. By turning away from God's creative plan, the human being has only a shortsighted view of self, one's brothers and sisters and the future. This condemns the human being to the experience of the wanderer, thus affecting the human race: "What have you done to your brother?"
56. God does not cease wishing to restore creation to humanity and, thanks to Christ the Redeemer, to help all to till and care for the garden (cf. Gn. 2:15-17) and avoid spoiling it or excluding anyone from it. In this situation every effort made to restore the dignity of the human person and the harmony between the human being and the whole of creation forms, for the church, part of the mystery of the redemption wrought by Christ, symbolically represented by the tree of life in the original garden (cf. Gn. 2:9).
When the human being enters freely into communion with this mystery, the person transforms the wandering into a pilgrimage, visiting places and performing actions of faith, learning once again to create a just relationship with God, with one's brothers and sisters and with the whole of creation. The person then knows that this justification comes about and is nourished by faith and by trust in God, and that it is often illustrated in the poor in spirit. This person then becomes once again a full participant in the completion of creation that had fallen as a result of original sin: "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God ... (to) obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:19, 21).
The sense of the human economy is thus revealed in its fullness. Each person and all of humanity can now cultivate the earth, and live from "the earth ... [where] the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come." The dynamic of this economy on the move comes from our acceptance of this pilgrimage, so that it can "become flesh" in our own person. Surrendering to it, gradually shedding all our reservations, brings us back to the church, this people of pilgrims on the move, and leads her forward together toward the kingdom of God. It is therefore the responsibility of each person, each man and woman baptized in Christ, to reveal this fruitfulness of which the church is the custodian, with the mission to restore fertility to the whole of creation.
When faced with the rationales of the "structures of sin" which weaken the human economy, we are called to be men and women who allow themselves to be intimately examined by God and who thus take up a critical attitude regarding the dominant models.
In this perspective, the church invites all people to develop their knowledge, skills and experience, each according to the gifts received and according to their own vocation. These gifts and these vocations that are proper to each person are admirably expressed in the three parables (the servant, the 10 bridesmaids and the talents) which quite rightly precede the parable of the Last Judgment (cf. Mt. 24:45-51 and 25:146) mentioned earlier. The complementarity and diversity of vocations and charisma direct the human being's response of love, called as one is to become "providence" for all men and women: "a wise and intelligent providence, guiding human development of the world along the path of harmony with the Creator's will for the well-being of the human family and the fulfillment of each individual's transcendent calling."
57. The apostolic letter <Tertio Millennio Adveniente> proposes very specific initiatives to actively pursue social justice. It thereby encourages us to discover other ways of responding to the problem of hunger and malnutrition which this Jubilee of the Year 2000 might adopt.
The jubilee is a particularly necessary practice in the field of the economy, for if left to itself the economy becomes drained of its lifeblood because it no longer does justice. Every economic crisis, the extreme effects of which are food shortages, essentially appears as a crisis of justice which is no longer being carried out. The chosen people of the Old Testament had already sensed this, and today it must be made a reality.
This crisis must be analyzed today within the framework of the free market. In each country, as in international relations, the free market may be an appropriate instrument for sharing resources and responding effectively to people's needs. Social justice makes trade permanent. Every human being has the right to accede to it, at the risk of foundering in an economic neo-Malthusianism based upon a stereotyped vision of solvency and efficiency.
However, it must be noted that justice and the market are often analyzed as two contradictory realities, which relieves the human person of any responsibility for social justice. The need for equity is then no longer the responsibility of the individual, who is resigned to succumbing to the market, but is transferred to the state and more specifically to the welfare state.
In general terms, prevailing moral philosophies are largely responsible for a shift in thinking in this area. This shift has moved away from the field of just behavior to the field of just structures and procedures, a theoretical construction that is now out of our reach. Furthermore, this state-provided welfare, <ad intra> and <ad extra>, now seems to be running out of steam and to be increasingly less able to guarantee any genuine distributive justice, to the point of threatening the efficiency of the national economy. Should this not be cause to reflect on the relationship between the lack of an individual contribution to the establishment of social justice and of moderation in our own economic behavior; on the other hand, the increasing ineffectiveness of existing redistribution mechanisms that eventually diminishes the overall efficiency of our economy?
58. To respond to this opposition between the market and justice, the church's social teaching works on the basis of the notion of just price derived from Scholasticism. This refers not only to the criterion of commutative justice, but more broadly to the criterion of social justice, namely, all the rights and duties of the human person. This realization of social justice, thanks to a just price, is based on a twofold conformity: the conformity of the legal environment of the market to the moral law and the conformity of multiple individual economic acts which set market prices to the moral law.
It is insufficient to consider personal responsibility as being restricted solely to civil law, because in many cases this involves "renouncing personal conscience." Just as the market price is based on a variety of customary values agreed upon by consumers, so it is our moral conduct, as the arbiter of agreed customary values, that will cause the market price to converge or not to converge with the just price. When market agents fail to incorporate their duty to ensure social justice into their economic decisions, the market mechanism itself will dissociate the competitive price from the just price.
As we prepare for the Jubilee of the Year 2000, we are all invited to embody the moral law in our daily economic activities. From this stems the concept that the just or unjust character of the price is to a certain extent "in our own hands," the hands of the producer and the investor, the hands of the consumer and of the public policy-makers.
All this does not dispense the state or the community of states, from the duty to exercise protection that is capable, among other things, of imperfectly making up for the lack of the individual duty to ensure social justice. This lack is the absence of conformity to the moral law, a duty incumbent on each one of us. The common good is a political object which has primacy over the mere commutative justice in trade.
59. God's call, handed on by his church, is evidently a call to share in active and practical charity. It is a call addressed not only to Christians but to all men and women of good will, and to all those who are capable of good will, namely to the whole of humanity without exception. The church, out of concern for the human person in general and of each person in particular, is therefore at the head of the movements that promote love in solidarity. Being present and active by the side of all those who are carrying out humanitarian work to meet the needs and to assure the most fundamental rights of their fellow human beings, the church regularly recalls that the "solution" to the social issue demands the effort of all.
All men and women of good will can perceive the ethical issues that are at stake and are linked to the future of the world economy: combating hunger and malnutrition, contributing to food security and the endogenous agricultural development of the developing countries, developing these countries' export potential and preserving the natural resources of planet-wide relevance.
The church's social teaching views all these as constituent components of the universal common good which must be identified and fostered by the developed countries. These components must also stand as the essential objective of international economic organizations and as the challenge facing the globalization of trade.
This universal common good, once it has been recognized, should be the inspiration for strengthening the legal, institutional and political framework governing international trade and new proposals for the jubilee year. This will demand courage on the part of the leaders of social, governmental and trade union institutions, since it is today so difficult to set the interests of each individual within a consistent vision of the common good.
The church is not responsible for proposing technical solutions in this regard, but she does wish to seize on this occasion of preparation for the great jubilee to launch a wide-ranging appeal for suggestions and proposals which may hasten the eradication of hunger and malnutrition.
Among these proposals, there are two areas to which particular attention should be given.
—Food buffer stocks, following the example of Joseph in Egypt (cf. Gn. 41:35), make it possible to provide concrete aid when there is a temporary crisis threatening populations with disaster. The procedures for building up and managing these stocks must be designed in such a way as to stave off any temptation to create a bureaucracy which opens the gates to struggles for political or economic influence on the one hand and corruption on the other, as well as to prevent any direct or indirect market manipulation.
Promotion of family vegetable gardens, especially in regions where poverty deprives the people, particularly heads of families and their loved ones, from gaining access to land use and from staple foods. This is similar to what Pope Leo XIII demanded for workers in the 19th century and for the same reasons: "Men learn to love the very soil that yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of good things for themselves and those that are dear to them." In most parts of the world schemes must be designed and implemented to make available to the poorest people some corner of the earth and the necessary knowledge and minimum of tools, which will enable them to make great progress and break out of their state of grave distress.
—Last, and taking a broader perspective, it is necessary to collect information and surveys based on experience and observation in specific situations in order to build up a data bank containing practical descriptions of real life situations, of "structures of sin" and of "structures of the common good" from every point of view.
60. The experience of daily life in every country of the world calls us, if we do not close our eyes, to look the hungry in the eye. In this look is the blood of our brothers and sisters crying out (cf. Gn. 4:10). We know that it is God calling out to us through the hungry. The sentence of the universal Judge condemns without compassion: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food" (Mt. 25:41ff).
These words, which spring from the heart of God made man, enable an understanding of the deep significance of meeting the fundamental needs of every man and woman in the eyes of their Creator. Do not allow the person, who is made in the image of God, to fall down for that would be letting the Lord fall! In the groaning of the hungry, it is God who is hungry and who is calling. Being a disciple of God, who is self-revealing, the Christian is urged to heed the cries of the poor. It is a call to love.
61. According to the writers of the psalms, those songs of the Old Testament, "the poor" are identified with "the just," "the righteous," those who "seek God," "fear God," "trust in God," those who "are blessed," "his servants" and who "know his name."
The whole of the light of the <anawim>, the poor under the first covenant, converges toward the woman who forms the hinge between the two testaments, as if reflected in a concave mirror. In Mary, all the devotion to Yahweh and all the experience which guided the people of Israel shone forth and took flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Her Magnificat is the hymn of praise which bears witness to Christ: the hymn of the poor whose wealth is God alone (cf. Lk. 1:46ff).
This hymn opens with an explosion of joy, expressing immense gratitude: "My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." But it is not for riches or power that Mary rejoiced. She saw herself as small, lowly and humble. This basic idea runs throughout her hymn of praise in total contrast to anything dealing with pride, or the thirst for power and wealth. Those who desire these things are "scattered," "put down from their thrones" and "sent empty away."
Jesus himself took up this teaching of his mother in his Gospel discourse on the Beatitudes. They open—and it is no coincidence—with the words, "Blessed are the poor." His words show what this new person is in opposition to the "wealth" which he criticizes.
It is to the poor that Jesus addresses his good news (cf. Lk. 4:18). The "allurement of wealth," conversely, prevents people from following Christ (cf. Mk. 4:19). We cannot serve two masters, God and mammon (cf. Mt. 6:24). Concern for the morrow is the sign of a pagan mentality (cf. Mt. 6:32). For Jesus, these are not just fine words. Indeed, he bore witness to them in his own life: "The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head" (Mt. 8:20).
62. The biblical precept must not be distorted or disguised. It runs counter to the spirit of the world and to our natural sensitivity. Our nature and our culture are repelled by poverty.
People living in poverty and wealth alike sometimes refer to the poverty of the Gospel in cynical terms. Christians are then accused of wishing to perpetuate poverty. But to scorn poverty in this way would be the work of the devil. The mark of Satan (cf. Mt. 4) is refusing to do the will of God by quoting his own words.
An address delivered by Pope John Paul II helps us to avoid this conclusion, which is a trap that could justify our selfishness. During his visit to the Lixao de Sao Pedro shantytown in Brazil on Oct. 19, 1991, the Holy Father reflected on the first Beatitude of the Gospel of St. Matthew. He explained the link between poverty and trust in God, between happiness and total surrender to the Creator. He then continued:
"But there also exists another poverty, which is quite different from the poverty that Christ declared to be blessed, and which affects a multitude of our brethren, hampering their integral development as persons. Faced with this kind of poverty, which is the lack and deprivation of the material things they need, the church speaks out.... This is why the church knows that all social changes must necessarily come about through a conversion of hearts, and she prays for this. That is the first and the main mission of the church."
As we have already said, the call of God handed on through the church is evidently an appeal to share in active and practical charity, addressed not only to Christians but to everyone. As in the past, and more than ever today, the church is present to all those who are performing humanitarian work to serve other human beings, working for their needs and their most basic rights.
The church's contribution to the development of each human being and whole peoples is not restricted to combating poverty and underdevelopment. There also exists a form of poverty caused by the conviction that the pursuit of technical and economic progress is enough to make each person more worthy to be called a human being. But soulless development cannot suffice for the human being, and an excess of wealth and affluence is as harmful to the person as an excess of poverty. It is in the "development model" created by the Northern Hemisphere and spreading throughout the Southern Hemisphere that the sense of religion and human values stand the risk of being overwhelmed by a mentality of consumption, sought after for its own sake.
63. God does not want people—namely, all men and women—to be poor, since our Creator cries out to all through each one of the poor. God tells us quite simply that the poor, like the rich who are blinded by their wealth, are mutilated beings. The poor are mutilated by circumstances which lie far from their control, while the rich are mutilated by their handfuls and with their collusion. Both are thereby prevented from finding that interior freedom to which God unceasingly calls all humanity.
By being "filled with good things," the poor are not given some selfish revenge against their ill fate, but are placed in a situation that ensures that their most fundamental capacities are not diminished. The rich who are "sent empty away" are not being punished for being rich, but they are relieved of the burden and the blindness caused by being too exclusively attached to goods of all kinds. The hymn of the Magnificat is not a condemnation, but a call to freedom and to love.
In this twofold healing process, the poor are called to heal their hearts wounded by injustice, which can lead them to hate themselves and others. The rich are called to cast off their shoddy burden. Instead they cover their ears, close their eyes and stifle their hearts, submerged under their worthless riches of money, power, image and pleasures of every kind. This gives them a narrow view of themselves and of others, and as they increase their possessions, their appetites continue to grow.
64. World hunger makes us identify the weaknesses of the human being at every level. The rationale of sin shows how sin—that evil lurking in the heart of every person—lies at the root of the miseries in society as a result of what might be called the "structures of sin." For the church, this is culpable egoism, the pursuit of wealth, power and glory regardless of the cost, challenging the very value of progress as such.
"For when the order of values is jumbled and bad is mixed with the good, individuals and groups pay heed solely to their own interests, and not to those of others. Thus it happens that the world ceases to be a place of true brotherhood and sisterhood. In our own day, the magnified power of humanity threatens to destroy the race itself."
Conversely, the love which comes to dwell in the human heart enables men and women to overcome their limitations and to act in the world by creating "structures of the common good." This encourages people around them to move toward a "civilization of love" and to attract others.
Thus the human being is called to reform his or her actions. This issue is of vital importance to the world. The person is led to this reformation of the heart by a movement of self toward the unification of the self and of the human community in love. This reform of the human being, the whole person, is radical in its depth and in what it entails, for the very essence of love is radical. Love does not suffer from division, it encompasses all the prompting of the person—acts and prayers, material goods and spiritual riches.
The conversion of the heart of everyone, of each and every human being, is God's proposal, which can profoundly change the face of the earth, wiping away the hideous marks of hunger which disfigure part of its face. "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mk. 1:15) is the imperative which accompanies the proclamation of the kingdom of God and which brings about its coming. The church knows that this deep-seated and intimate change in people will encourage in daily life a look beyond immediate interests to gradually change the way of thinking, working and living in order to learn to love in daily life, fully exercising faculties in the world as it is.
Whatever little we do, God will watch over us.
65. Here is the promise which Our Lord makes us: "You shall be clean from all your uncleannesses and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances" (Ez. 36:25-27).
Let us not be misled by this magnificent biblical language. It is not an appeal to fine sentiments to bring about a mere material sharing, however worthwhile and effective that might be. It is the most far-reaching proposal that could ever be put to us. It is the proposal of God, who comes to offer each one of us liberation from our idols and to teach us to love. This commits our whole being, reunified in this way. Then we can overcome our fears and our selfishness in order to be attentive to our brothers and sisters and to serve them.
Our idols are all near us. They are our longings as individuals and as communities, whether we are rich or poor, for material goods, power, reputation and pleasure, viewed as ends in themselves. By serving these idols, the human being is enslaved and the planet impoverished (cf. No. 25). The profound injustice suffered by those who cannot meet the bare necessities of life is precisely the fact that they are forced by necessity to seek material goods above all else.
The heart of the poor Lazarus was freer than the heart of the evil rich man, and through the voice of Abraham God not only asks the unrighteous rich man to share his feast with Lazarus, but demands a change of heart and acceptance of the law of love in order that he become a brother to Lazarus (cf. Lk. 16:19ff).
It is by freeing us from our idols that God will enable us to set about transforming the world, not only by increasing riches of all kinds, but above all by directing the work of humanity toward the service of all. The world can then rediscover its original beauty, which is not only the beauty of nature on the day of creation, but the beauty of the garden that was perfectly tended, tilled and rendered fertile by the human being at the service of one's brothers and sisters, in the loving presence of God and out of love for God.
"Fight hunger by changing your lifestyle" is the motto which has emerged in church circles and which shows the people in the affluent country how to become the brothers and sisters of those living in poverty.
66. Wherever in the world God has placed them, Christians must respond to the call of those who are hungry by personally questioning their own lives. The call of the hungry urges one to question the meaning and the value of daily actions, to seek out the immediate and sometimes more remote consequences of professional and voluntary work, handicrafts and domestic work. Further, one must gauge the magnitude, which is much more concrete and wide ranging than could be imagined, of the consequences of all one does, even the most ordinary things, and hence appraise real responsibility.
Christians must question the way time is managed, which in the modern world often suffers by default or by excess because of unemployment, causing such destruction. The eyes of the spirits and hearts of Christians will be opened if they know how to accept this invitation from God, extended to all men and women, to go out as a matter of routine, discreetly and humbly, to listen to and serve anyone in need. This is a very particular appeal to all known in current parlance as leaders or officials.
St. Paul states unequivocally that "Jesus Christ ... though rich ... for your sake he became poor" (2 Cor. 8:16). Christ wished to make us rich through his poverty and through the love we must always show to those living in poverty.
67. Listening to God in the presence of the poor will open up the human heart and lead it to seek an ever-new personal encounter with God. This encounter, which God is seeking in a ceaseless search for all humanity and the whole human being, will continue along the daily path which gradually transforms the lives of those who agree to "open the door" to God, who humbly knocks (cf. Rv. 3:20).
Listening to God demands time with and for God. It is personal prayer. This alone enables the human being to have a change of heart and hence of deeds. The time taken up by God is not taken away from the poor. A strong and balanced spiritual life has never removed anyone from the service of their brothers and sisters. If St. Vincent de Paul (d. 1660)—who was so well known for his commitment to the poorest of the poor—was able to say, "Leave off your prayer if your brother asks you for a cup of tea," let us not forget that he prayed for seven hours a day, and it was on this that he built up everything he did.
68. Those who listen to their brothers and sisters and open up to God's presence and action will begin, little by little, to question their own habits of life. The race for affluence—which more and more people are joining in, often in a world of increasing poverty—will gradually give way to a greater simplicity of life which is already a distant memory in so many countries. This becomes possible once again, and even desirable, as soon as concern for appearances is no longer a consumer's choice.
Last, those who thus agree to change their views in order to adopt the view that God has shown us in the words of Christ and to reflect on the consequences of our actions, whether apparently important or insignificant, will be enabled to place themselves at the service of the common good and of the integral advancement of all humanity and each and every human being.
69. Gradually freed of fears and purely material ambitions and enlightened as to the possible consequences of their own actions, wherever they may be, those welcoming the presence of God in every aspect of life will become artisans of the civilization of love. Working discreetly and in depth, their work will take on the character of a mission in which their talents must be exercised and developed. A mission where they are called to contribute toward reforming structures and institutions. This exemplary behavior will then encourage their neighbors to do likewise and to be essentially devoted to serving the dignity of all men and women and their common good.
The circumstances of life are such that some consider this attitude toward work to be impossible. But experience has shown that even in situations of apparent stalemate, people always have a tiny margin to maneuvre, and their choices have a real significance for those working near them and for the common good. To a certain extent one might say that every man and woman is responsible for everyone else. This is one of the aspects of God's call to love, which never ceases to resound. It is the responsibility of everyone, under what are often difficult circumstances and may even cause suffering to the point of martyrdom, to draw on the strength of God, who promises us help if we place him at the very center of our lives, including our active lives.
"Take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you" (Hg. 2:4-5). The Christian then becomes a combatant against the "structures of sin" and even their agent of destruction. This will ensure that anything that hampers social and economic development will be less widespread. In regions where Christians lead men and women of good will with courage and determination, poverty can be halted in its tracks, consumption habits can be changed, reforms implemented, solidarity can flourish and hunger recede.
70. These Christians are led, first and foremost, by religious and ordained pastors who are called to give their lives to God and to their fellow men and women.
Throughout the history of the church, since the time of the deacons in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Acts 6: 1ff) until today, there have been extraordinary men and women, religious orders and missionary orders, associations of the Christian laity and church institutions and initiatives that have set out to assist those living in poverty and the hungry. They have fought against suffering and misery in all its forms, in obedience to Christ.
The church is thankful to all those who are presently performing these services by undertaking specific activities for the good of their neighbor in dioceses, parishes, missionary organizations, charity organizations and other non-governmental organizations. They are handing on the love of God and demonstrating the authenticity of the Gospel.
The Catholic Church is present in every continent. She has almost 2,700 dioceses or circumscriptions with widely differing features, many of which have long been occupied with combating hunger and poverty. Dioceses and parishes are the special places for discerning what Christians are able to achieve. In these situations they encourage the organization of grass-roots groups, local groups and whole communities. Welcoming communities, composed with a strong human dimension, can restore people's confidence, help organize better living, and draw people out of resignation and subjugation. The Gospel once again becomes a hope for those living in poverty, in a crucible in which the strength of Christ and the strength of the disinherited join forces.
Each one is called to take part in this work. The call to love, which God sends out through the presence of our fellow humans who are suffering from hunger, must become a reality for each of us, whatever our state of life, place in the world and our most immediate surrounding. The wonderful variety of humanity, in the diversity of cultures, leads to an array of different commitments and missions.
Every Christian must therefore encourage local initiatives of all kinds. The Catholic Church knows that she can share this commitment with the other Christian churches and religious communities, and with all men and women of good will. Humanitarian work is an important sphere of action for Christians. But they must then make a particular contribution to ensuring that the purposes pursued by their association and in their own work are for the integral service of humanity, without excluding the spiritual dimension. In this way they will be a bulwark against all those who might seek to deflect the dynamism of these associations to serve political ends inspired by materialism and by ideologies which ultimately always destroy the human being.
71. Christians are at the service of their brothers and sisters in every aspect of their work and their lives. Love put into practice appeals to all Christians in their daily work and in their personal initiatives. The commitment of Christians, like their humanitarian and charitable work, stems from the same call to mission.
In their paid work and in their unpaid voluntary work or working at home, which is often heavy, men and women are called to live the same mission, to manifest the good news and serve it through their daily sufferings and joys and in every situation. The quality of their work, participation in just reforms, humble behavior, concern for others, which is always present regardless of personal and lawful institutional objectives—all this is the daily lot of men and women seeking an opportunity in every aspect of their lives to allow God to draw close to them and to make the world grow in divine love. They will then be increasingly better able to combat confusion and injustice, and offer up their sufferings and their joys to Christ the Savior, who gives them his spirit in their daily lives.
Christians will seek to link their work, whatever it may be, to the One who speaks directly to our hearts through the mouths of all the poor. Christians, who are leaders of all men and women of good will, with whom they share fundamental human values, must ensure that their personal work and that of their fellow Christians is inspired by the word of God and anchored in the divine life in union with the church and her pastors. The community in action must be a community working with the Lord, who will ensure that this work is planned and implemented in the Holy Spirit and thereby ensure that it preserves its quality as a mission of divine essence in which the Servant of Man is sought personally as the source, the strength and the end of the work itself.
Christians will find support at all times in the prayer of our Blessed Lady, praying and acting in one and the same movement of unreserved service to God and to humanity. The mother of God will intercede with the Holy Spirit to flood the minds and hearts of all Christians, thereby making them responsible and trusting, cooperating freely in an undertaking that will bear witness by itself to the love of God and which will have the weight of eternity.
Vatican City, Palazzo San Calisto, Oct. 4, 1996
Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes
When drafting this document, particular care has been taken to draw on a wide range of recent studies and research. However, the fact that they are cited in this document does not imply unreserved and full approval by the Holy See.
1 Cf. United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly in Resolution 217 A (III) on Dec. 10, 1948, Art 25.1.
2 Ibid., Declaration on Social Progress and Development, proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly in Resolution 2542 (XXIV) on Dec. 11, 1969, Part II, Art. 10b.
3 Ibid., World Food Conference, Rome, Nov. 16, 1974, No. 1.
4 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization, Final Report of the International Conference on Nutrition, World Declaration on Nutrition, Rome 1992, No. 1.
5 Cf. ibid., 1. Cf. also FAO, <Dimensions of Need: An Atlas of Food and Agriculture>, Rome 1995, p. 16: "In the world as a whole, an average of about 2,700 calories of food is available per person per day, enough to meet everyone's energy requirements. But food is neither produced nor distributed equally. Some countries produce more food than others, while distribution systems and family incomes determine access to food."
6 Cf. FAO, <World Agriculture: Towards 2010>, Rome 1993, p. 1.
7 Cf. Vatican Council II, <Gaudium et Spes> (1965), No. 40: "The church ... goes forward together with humanity and experiences the same earthly lot which the world does. She serves as a leaven and as a kind of soul for human society as it is to be renewed in Christ and transformed into God's family. That the earthly and the heavenly city penetrate each other is a fact accessible to faith alone."
8 Ibid., 69.
9 John Paul II, <Sollicitudo Rei Socialis> (1987), No. 41: <Acta Apostolicae Sedis> 80 (1988), p. 570.
10 Ibid., p. 558. Cf. also Paul VI <Populorum Progressio> (1967), No. 47: AAS 59 (1967), p. 280.
11 Cf. FAO, <Dimensions of Need>, p. 16. Cf. also Footnote 4.
12 Cf. A. Berg, <Malnutrition: What Can Be Done? Lesson From World Rank Experience> John Hopkins University Press for the World Bank, Baltimore, Md., 1987.
13 According to FAO and WHO surveys the minimum daily calorie intake should be about 2,100, while daily food availability should be 1.55 times the basic metabolism rate. Below these levels, a person may be considered to be suffering from chronic undernutrition (cf. <Nutrition and Development: A Global Assessment> Rome 1992). There are still about 800 million people in the world who are underfed. An adult requires an average daily intake of about 2,500 calories. However, people living in industrial countries have about 800 calories a day in excess of their requirements, while the developing countries have to be content with only two-thirds of this ration (cf. <Le Sud dans votre assiette. L'interdependance alimentaire mondiale>, CRDI Ottawa 1992, p. 26).
14 Cf. U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, Preparatory document for the 2nd U.N. Conference on the Less Developed Countries, Paris 1990.
15 FAO and WHO, World Declaration on Nutrition, Rome 1992, No. 2.
16 Cf. World Bank, <Poverty and Hunger>. 1986. This document describes the degrees of food insecurity (transitory or chronic), as well as the underlying economic causes of such situations and means of remedying them in the medium and longer term. It is a useful distinction to draw, but its weakness is that it does not immediately reflect correlations between different causes, which could more clearly bring out their comparative importance, for some causes are themselves the effects of more deep-seated causes. <Sustainability> originally meant development that was compatible with respect for the physical environment. Today the concept also implies the permanency of development.
17 Cf. ibid.
18 The term <misdeveloping countries>, which covers a wider sphere than the economy alone, is applied to countries whose economic and social development exacts an excessively high toll in terms of human suffering and financial resources, the destruction of the expertise, well-tried practices and assets acquired through out the centuries.
19 As a general result of better policies and better implementation, Asia's performance has been more effective overall even though the quality of interpersonal relations cannot be said to have improved or corruption to have been reduced.
20 Cutbacks have had to be made in education in some countries. It should be remembered that in many of the countries struggling for development one of the recurrent problems that international institutions must address in their dialogue with the leadership is the leaders' tendency to favor higher education at the expense of primary education.
21 Cf. U.N. Population Fund, <The State of World Population 1993>, New York, 1993. Cf. also United Nations, <World Population Prospects: The 1992 Revision> New York 1993. Cf. also UNFPA, <The State of World Population 1994, Choices and Responsibilities>, New York 1994.
22 U.N. Development Program, <World Human Development Report 1990>, Oxford University Press, New York 1990. Cf. ibid. p. 94. In the developing countries, where the majority of people suffering from hunger live, the rural population has more than doubled and the urban population has tripled or even quadrupled in the space of 30 years (between 1950 and 1980).
23 Cf. F. Bockle, et al., <Armut und Bevolkerungs-entwicklung in der Dritten Welt, Herausgegeben von der Wissenschaftlichen Arbeitsgruppe fur weltkirchliche Aufgaben der Deutschen Bischofskonferenz>, Bonn, 1991. Cf. also <Poverty and Demographic Growth in the Third World>, published by the Scientific Working Party for Universal Church Issues of the German bishops' conference, Bonn, 1991.
24 Cf. Pontifical Academy of Sciences "Population and Resources Report," Vatican City 1993. (The statistics given in this report have since changed.)
25 Cf. Pontifical Council for the Family "Ethical and Pastoral Dimensions of Population Trends," Vatican City 1994. Cf. Le controle des naissances dans les pays du Sud: promotion des droits des femmes ou des interets du Nord, InterMondes, Vol. 7, October 1991, No. 1, p. 7: In many areas of the world, research has shown that in addition to birth control there are three other factors which also contribute to reducing world population growth. One is economic and social development, another is improving the living conditions of women and, paradoxically, reducing infant mortality. Cf. also UNICEF, <The Situation of Children in the World,> Geneva 1991.
26 John Paul II, address to the delegates attending the "Population and Resources" study week organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Nov. 22, 1991, Nos. 4 and 6: "The church is aware of the complexity of the problem.... The urgency of the situation must not lead into error in proposing ways of intervening. To apply methods which are not in accord with the true nature of man actually ends up by causing tragic harm ... and can risk placing the heaviest burden on the poorest and weakest sectors of society, thus adding injustice to injustice": AAS 84 (1992), pp. 1120-1122. Cf. also Cardinal Angelo Sodano, address to the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, June 3-14, 1992, L'Osservatore Romano, June 15-16, 1992.
27 Cf. FAO and WHO, Final Report, Rome 1992, No. 15.
28 Cf. FAO, <World Agriculture: Towards 2010>, No. 2.13.
29 U.N. Development Program, 1990 Report, p. 18.
30 FAO and WHO, Final Report, Rome 1992 No. 1.
32 Argentina is one of the leading wheat and beef exporting countries. It is, therefore, not a misdeveloping country. It is an industrialized country whose long-term economic performance used to be disappointing for reasons that were mainly to do with weaknesses in its political system. This situation has improved considerably in recent years, and the economic effects are already evident.
33 Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), No. 1906 in which the definition of <common good>, based on <Gaudium et Spes>, 26.1, reads: "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily."
34 John Paul II, address at the headquarters of West African Economic Community Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Jan. 29, 1990: AAS 82 (1990), p. 818.
35 Ibid., <Centesimus Annus> (1991), No. 31: AAS 83 (1991), p. 831.
36 Cf. ibid., <Reconciliatio et Paenitentia> (1984), No. 16: AAS 77 (1985), pp. 213-217 (referring to social sin producing social evils) <Sollicitudo Rei Socialis>, Nos. 36-37, and <Centesimus Annus>, No. 38. These documents also use expressions such as <situations of sin> or <social sins> but always giving the cause of these sins as egotism, the search for profit or the lust for power.
37 The manufacture of chemical weapons which have no positive fallout and are only used to attack or for self-defense, is one example. To appreciate the scale of the problem, 500,000 tons of deadly chemical products, sufficient to wipe out 60 billion men and women, are still stockpiled in the former Soviet Union. The cost of production for these weapons was about 5200 billion, and the cost to destroy them will be the same. These are real resources and are therefore a net loss to the planet. This perverse adventure lowers living standards (mainly, but not solely, in the former USSR) and can even cause hunger in families that would otherwise never have experienced it.
38 Cf. Paul VI, 1975 Christmas homily for the end of the Holy Year: AAS 68 (1976), p. 145. This concept was used for the first time by Pope Paul VI.
39 <Centesimus annus>, 28.
40 Cf. L. Salmen, <Listen to the People, Participant-Observer Evaluation of Development Projects>, World Bank and Oxford University Press, 1987. In this connection, one might recall the participating observer method used by one World Bank consultant. Driven on by a deep love for humanity, he did not hesitate to spend periods of between three and six months living in the shantytowns in South America (in Ouito and La Paz in particular) to lead the same life as the local people. This enabled him to routinely advise architects working on urban renewal to ensure that the new constructions were not systematically turned into slums by the new occupiers who had previously lived in hovels. This is what is meant by giving preference to listening to the poor, who in this case are also customers, and it is also sound common sense. But it demands heroism. This method subsequently spread in Thailand, drawing on the worldwide authority of the World Bank to convince the officials in Bangkok to go and spend time living with their own deprived fellow citizens in order to ensure the success of their urban resettlement programs.
Also noteworthy is the extraordinary work of an English Protestant minister, Stephen Carr who spent 20 years living in two African villages, using traditional resources and techniques alone. He acquired a powerful influence in these two places, and on an unscheduled visit to Washington in 1985-86 he was interviewed by the World Bank. What he had to tell them enlightened the World Bank specialists who had come up against one failure after another in the bank's agricultural projects in Africa. There is a symbiosis between the peasant and his land. The land of Africa is beautiful and rich, but it is also very fragile. New farming practices by the peasants brought about by the contemporary economy and the loss of ancestral beliefs has led to the destruction of the land. Catholic missionaries-and perhaps others too-have realized this. The old missions respected the talents and above all the traditional experience of the local people. This has now been rediscovered by a number of non-governmental organizations, including FIDESCO, which is based in France and several other European countries.
41 Cf. the work of Father Joseph Wrejinsky and ATD Fourth World.
42 Cf. John XXIII, <Pacem in Terris> (1963) Chapter 3: AAS 55 (1963), pp. 279-291.
43 John Paul II, address for FAO's 50th anniversary, Oct. 23, 1995, No. 2; L'Osservatore Romano, Oct. 23-24, 1995.
44 World Bank, <World Development Report 1990>, Washington, 1990, p. 19.
45 Cf. Pontifical Justice and Peace Council, "The International Arms Trade: An Ethical Reflection," Vatican City 1994.
46 Cf. FAO, <Sustainable Development and the Environment, FAO Policies and Actions>, Rome 1992.
47 Cf. John Paul II, address to the FAO conference's 25th session, Nov. 16, 1989, No. 8: AAS 82 (1990), pp. 672-673.
48 Cf. the papal writs (chirographs) establishing the two pontifical foundations "John Paul II for the Sahel" on Feb. 22, 1984, and the "Populorum Progressio Foundation" on Feb. 13, 1992. Both foundations have their headquarters at the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Vatican City State. The headquarters of the board of directors of the John Paul II for the Sahel Foundation is in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and the Populorum Progressio Foundation has its headquarters in Bogota, Colombia.
49 Cf. John Paul II, address to the U.N. General Assembly for its 50th anniversary, Oct. 5, 1995, Nos. 12 and 13; L'Osservatore Romano, Oct. 6, 1995.
50 To mention some by name: Economia di Communione/Opera di Maria, the Focolare Movement (Grottaferrata), AVSI/Communion and Liberation (Milan), Fidesco/Emmanuel Community (Paris), Famille en Mission/Neocatechumenal Path (Rome), and Kolping International (Cologne).
51 U.N. Development Program, p. 31. Cf. also Footnote 29.
52 Cf. International Fund for Agricultural Development, <The Role of Rural Credit Projects in Reaching the Poor>, Rome-Oxford 1985.
53 Cf. John Paul II, "Letter to Women," June 29, 1995, No. 4: AAS 87 (1995), pp. 805-806.
54 Cf. John Paul II, <Mulieris Dignitatem>, Nos. 6-7: AAS 80 (1988), pp. 1662-1667. Cf. also the post-synodal apostolic exhortation <Christifdeles Laici> (1988), No. 50: AAS 81 (1989), pp. 489492.
55 The magnitude of corruption can be gauged from the amount of "laundered" money as estimated by the authorities responsible for preventing fraud.
56 Cf. <Sollicitudo Rei Socialis,> 44.
57 <Pacem in Terris>, Chapter 3.
58 Cf. Leo XIII, <Rerum Novarum> (May 15, 1891): <Leonis XIII P.M. Acta, XI,> Rome 1892, pp. 97-144.
59 Cf. FAO, <Report of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development: Declaration of Principles and Program of Action and The Peasants' Charter>, Rome 1979.
60 Cf. FAO, Final Report, 23rd session of the FAO Conference, No. C85/REO, Rome, Nov. 9-28, 1985, p. 46.
61 Cf. Footnote 4.
62 Cf. World Bank, <World Development Report 1990,> Introduction.
63 John Paul II, address for FAO's 50th anniversary, No. 4.
64 Cf. U.N. Development Program, <World Human Development Report 1992>. Cf. also report of the U.N. Conference on the Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, June 3-14, 1992, No. 33.13: "Developed countries reaffirm their commitments to reach the accepted U.N. target of 0.7 percent of gross national product for overseas development aid and, to the extent that they have not yet achieved that target, agree to augment their aid programs in order to reach that target as soon as possible.... Some countries who have already reached the target are to be commended and encouraged to continue to contribute to the common effort to make available the substantial additional resources that have to be mobilized."
65 Cf. report of the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, March 6-12, 1995, Declaration and Program of Action, No. 88b.
66 John XXIII, <Mater et Magistra> (1961), Chapter 3: AAS 53 (1961), p. 440.
67 John Paul II, address for FAO's 50th anniversary, No. 3.
68 Cf. U.N. Development Program, pp. 164-165. Cf. Footnote 64.
69 FAO, <Dimensions of Needs,> p. 35. Cf. Footnote 11, Food security depends generally on four elements: food availability; access to sufficient food; stability of supplies; cultural acceptance of the food or certain combinations of foods.
70 Cf. also the World Food Security Compact, 1985, mentioned earlier in text in No. 40.
71 Cf. FAO, <Landlessness: a Growing Problem,> Economic and Social Development Series, Rome 1984, No. 28.
72 John Paul II, 1990 World Peace Day Message, "Peace With God the Creator, Peace With All Creation," (1990), No. 11: AAS 82 (1990), p. 153.
73 Vatican Council II, <Gravissimum Educationis>, No. 1, referring to Pius XI, <Divini Illius Magistri> (1929), No. 1: AAS 22 (1930), p. 50ff.
74 Cf. also Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Catholic Aid Directory, 4th ea., Vatican City, 1988 (the 5th ed. is being prepared). Let us take, by way of example, the member organizations of Cor Unum: the International Association of St. Vincent de Paul, Caritas Internationalis, the International Union of Superiors General, the Union of Superiors General, Australian Catholic Relief, Caritas Italiana, Caritas Lebanon, Catholic Relief Services (U.S. Catholic Conference), Deutscher Caritasverband, Manos Unidas, Organisation Catholique Canadienne pour le Developpement et la Paix, Secours Catholique, Kirche in Not, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Secretariat of Caritas in French-speaking Africa, Caritas Aotearoa (New Zealand), Caritas Bolivia, Caritas Spain, Caritas Mozambique, Misereor, Osterreichische Caritaszentrale, the Knights of Malta.
75 Unit IV of the World Council of Churches in Geneva is of great importance here, as is the worldwide work of the Red Cross.
76 Cf. Footnote 48.
77 Cf. John Paul II, <Tertio Millennio Adveniente> (1994), No. 12: AAS 87 (1995), p. 13.
78 Cf. ibid. No. 13.
79 <Gaudium et Spes>, No. 39.
80 John Paul II, meditation at the Cherry Creek State Park prayer vigil during World Youth Day, Aug. 14, 1993: AAS 86 (1994), p. 416.
81 <Tertio Millennio Adveniente>, No. 51: "Proposing the jubilee as an appropriate time to give thought, among other things, to reducing substantially, if not canceling outright, the international debt which seriously threatens the future of many nations."
82 Cf. H. Hude, <Ethique et Politique>, Chapt. 13 "La justice sur le marche," Ed. Universitaires, Paris 1992.
83 Cf. <Centesimus Annus>, No. 34.
84 John Paul II, <Evangelium Vitae> (1995), No. 69: AAS 87 (1995), p. 481.
85 <Centesimus Annus> gives a number of indications in this connection in No. 36: "In singling out new needs and new means to meet them, one must be guided by a comprehensive picture of man which respects all the dimensions of his being and which subordinates his material and instinctive dimensions to his interior and spiritual ones. If, on the contrary, a direct appeal is made to human instincts-while ignoring in various ways the reality of the person as intelligent and free-then consumer attitudes and lifestyles can be created which are objectively improper and often damaging to the person's physical and spiritual health. Of itself, an economic system does not possess criteria for correctly distinguishing new and higher forms of satisfying human needs from artificial new needs which hinder the formation of a mature personality. Thus a great deal of educational and cultural work is urgently needed, including the education of consumers in the responsible use of their power of choice, the formation of a strong sense of responsibility among producers and among people in the mass media in particular, as well as the necessary intervention by public authorities .... I am referring to the fact that even the decision to invest in one place rather than another, in one productive sector rather than another, is always a moral and cultural choice."
86 <Centesimus Annus>, No. 60.
87 <Rerum Novarum>, No. 35.
88 Cor Unum will be asking specific questions in this connection.
89 John Paul II, 2nd visit to Brazil, Oct. 12-21, 1991, address at the Lixao de Sao Pedro shantytown, <Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II>, XIV/2 (1991), p. 941.
90 <Gaudium et Spes>, No. 37. Cf. also <Sollicitudo Rei Socialis>, Nos. 27-28: "Such an idea [of development], linked to a notion of 'progress' with philosophical connotations deriving from the Enlightenment.... A naive mechanistic optimism has been replaced by a well-founded anxiety for the fate of humanity.... There is a better understanding today that the mere accumulation of goods and services, even for the benefit of the majority, is not enough for the realization of human happiness."
91 Cf. Footnote 38.
92 John Paul II, <Redemptoris Missio> (1990), No. 59: AAS 83 (1991), pp. 307-308.
93 This conviction is not only common among Christians. It lies at the basis of a movement that was recently instituted in the United States, <communitarianism>. The sociologist A. Etzioni has set out the tenets of the movement, which works for the promotion of the common good of all men and women in his study titled <The Spirit of Community: Rights, Responsibilities and the Communitarian Agenda>, Crown Publishers Inc., New York 1993.
94 <Sollicitudo Rei Socialis>, 40.
95 Cf. Secretariat of State's Central Statistical Office, 1994 Yearbook of Church Statistics, p. 41.
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