13-February-2013 -- Vatican Information Service |

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The Church Defends The Importance Of The Worker On The Land

Vatican City, 13 February 2013 (VIS) - Today, the Pope sent a message to participants in the meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which celebrates its 36th anniversary this year.

The Holy Father praised "the methodology followed by IFAD, which gives ongoing development priority over mere assistance, and places the group dimension alongside the purely individual dimension, to the point of setting up forms of interest-free grants and loans, often choosing, as the primary beneficiaries, the 'poorest of the poor'. This activity shows that approaches inspired by the principle of gratuitousness and by the culture of gift can 'find their place within normal economic activity' (Caritas in Veritate)."

"Indeed, the approach taken by the Fund is to link the elimination of poverty not only to the fight against hunger and the guarantee of food security, but also to the creation of work opportunities and institutional decision-making structures. It is well known that when these elements are missing, the involvement of rural labourers in choices that affect them is restricted, hence reinforcing their sense of being limited in their capacity and their dignity."

"In this area there are two specific lines taken by the Organization that are to be commended. The first is the constant attention given to Africa, where, by supporting projects of 'rural credit', IFAD aims to endow small farmers with modest but essential financial resources, and to empower them in the decision-making and administrative phase as well. The second line is the support given to indigenous communities, which have a particular care for preserving biodiversity, recognized as a precious good that the Creator has placed at the disposal of the entire human family. The safeguarding of these peoples' identity needs to be given priority, and their indispensable role in handing down traditional know-how needs to be acknowledged."

"The Catholic Church, in her teaching and her activity, has always upheld the centrality of the worker on the land, urging concrete political and economic action in areas that affect him. This stance, I am happy to observe, harmonizes with the Fund's approach in underlining the role of farmers, as individuals and as small groups, thus actively involving them in the development of their communities and countries. This attention to the person, both individually and collectively, will be more effective if it is achieved through forms of association, both cooperatives and small family businesses with the wherewithal to produce an income that is sufficient to support a decent standard of living."

Referring to "the next International Year that the United Nations has chosen to dedicate to the rural family," the Pope added that it will promote "a deep-rooted and sound notion of agricultural development and of the fight against poverty, based on this fundamental cell of society. IFAD knows from experience that the family is at the heart of the social order, and what serves to regulate family life, prior to the laws of a State or international norms, are the moral principles inscribed in the natural patrimony of values which are immediately identifiable in the rural world as well. These principles inspire the conduct of individuals, the relationship between spouses and between generations, and the sense of shared ownership. To ignore this reality, or to fail to recognize it, would be to undermine the foundations not only of the family, but of the entire rural community, with consequences whose gravity is easily foreseeable."

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