16-October-2012 -- Vatican Information Service |

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The Catholic Church Supports Agricultural Cooperatives

Vatican City, 16 October 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the United Nation's Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), for the occasion of World Food Day 2012.

"This year World Food Day is being celebrated while the effects of the economic crisis are increasingly affecting primary needs, including the fundamental right of every person to sufficient and healthy nutrition. In particular, the position of people who live in situations of poverty and underdevelopment is worsening. The current state of affairs is similar to that which led to the establishment of FAO, and it calls on national and international institutions to work to free humankind from hunger through agricultural development and the growth of rural communities. Malnutrition is, in fact, being worsened by gradual disengagement and excessive competitiveness, factors which could make us forget that only shared solutions can adequately respond to the expectations of individuals and peoples".

In this context, the Holy Father expresses his satisfaction at the decision to dedicate this year's World Food Day to the theme "Agricultural cooperatives - key to feeding the world". This, he writes, "does not only mean supporting cooperatives as a different form of economic and social organisation, but also seeing them as a real tool for international action. The experience of many countries shows, in fact, that cooperatives, apart from stimulating agricultural activities, are a way to enable farmers and rural populations to participate in decision making, and an efficient means to achieve an integral development which has human beings as its foundation and goal".

"As is well known, the Catholic Church considers work and cooperative enterprises as ways to enjoy an experience of unity and solidarity capable of overcoming differences and even social conflicts between people from different groups. For this reason, with her teaching and actions the Church has always supported cooperatives, in the conviction that their activity is not limited only to the economic sphere, but contributes to the human, social, cultural and moral development of those who belong to them, and of the community of which they are part".

Benedict XVI goes on to recall that, when conflicts or natural disasters impede agricultural work, consideration must always be given "to the vital role played by women, who are often called to administer the activity of cooperatives, to maintain family ties and to safeguard the precious heritage of rural knowledge and techniques".

"It is indispensable", the Pope concludes his message, "that national and international authorities provide the necessary legislation and financing to ensure that, in rural areas, cooperatives may become effective instruments of agricultural production, food security, social change and a wider improvement in living conditions. In this new context it is to be hoped that the young may look to their future with renewed confidence, while maintaining their link with agricultural work, the rural world and its traditional values".

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