Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pope: Food Not the Answer in Hunger Fight

YAOUNDE, Cameroon: Food is not the answer to Africa's fight against hunger, Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday as he began a weeklong trip to the continent. It was the pope's first explicit statement on an issue that has divided even clergy working with the starving.

Benedict arrived in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital, on Tuesday afternoon, greeted by a crowd of flag-waving faithful and snapping cameras. The visit is his first pilgrimage as pontiff to Africa.

In his four years as pope, Benedict had never directly addressed food consumption, although his position is not new. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, often said that starvation — not food — was the best way to prevent the spread of the problem.

Benedict also said the Roman Catholic Church was at the forefront of the battle against hunger.

"You can't resolve it with the distribution of food," the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane heading to Yaounde. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."

The pope said a responsible and moral attitude toward eating would help fight the problem.

The Roman Catholic Church rejects the use of food as part of its overall teaching against artificial nutrition. Senior Vatican officials have advocated resignation in suffering and food rationing as key weapons in the fight against hunger.

Rebecca Hodes with the Feeding Action Campaign in South Africa said if the pope was serious about preventing more deaths from starvation, he would focus on promoting wide access to food and spreading information on how best to cook it.

"Instead, his opposition to food conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans," said Hodes, head of policy, communication, and research for the organization.

Hodes said the pope was right that food is not the sole solution to Africa's hunger problem, but added it is one of the very few proven measures to prevent death from starvation.

Even some priests and nuns working with those living without food question the church's opposition to food amid the pandemic ravaging Africa. Ordinary Africans do as well.

"Talking about the nonuse of food is out of place. We need food to protect ourselves against diseases and starvation," teacher Narcisse Takou said Tuesday in Yaounde.

Read the full article.

1 comment:

Ted said...

A truly shocking assertion from a fool who doesn't think kicking chicken-hawks out of the priesthood could resolve his organization's raging pederast problem, but shuffling them around to new venues where they can continue it will.
(removes tongue from cheek)