Speeches 1989 - ON THE OCCASION OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE OF FAO
Today, fifteen years after the World Food Conference of 1974, we have been made aware of the need for a careful and objective consideration of the many factors bearing upon problems of world economic development and social progress. This is particularly evident in light of rapid population increases, especially on certain continents, and a world economy that presents phases of recession and difficulties in implementing domestic economic policies even in highly industrialized countries.
For this reason, it is best to avoid purely global and negative descriptions of the existing situation. Instead, existing observations and assessments, however disappointing they have been hitherto, ought to become a stimulus to new reflection on the possibility, and indeed the duty, of concerted action on the part of States and intergovernmental organizations. This sort of activity must necessarily be gradual and will need to be adjusted to the changing conditions of individual countries and the overall world situation. In effect, what is needed is a real determination not only to define the goal of justice, but also to achieve that goal through an activity grounded in moral solidarity.
3. If it is operative anywhere, this moral solidarity must be characteristic of the various member-States of FAO. An effective struggle against hunger and malnutrition will depend upon a united course of action undertaken first of all by those Organizations and agencies directly involved with issues of food and agriculture. Aside from FAO, these would include IFAD, the World Food Programme and the World Food Council.
4. The struggle against hunger has ramifications in the area of investment as well. Here too, international monetary or financial organizations, in coordinating loans and payments on the world, regional, local and group level, are called to demonstrate a cooperation born of solidarity. Indeed, it is quite possible that the problem of foreign indebtedness, particularly that of the developing countries, can begin to be confronted through appropriate recourse to such multilateral Organizations.
Besides their operational contributions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank with its affiliated organizations, have also made important suggestions aimed at discerning criteria for readjusting the economy of indebted countries, and for indicating appropriate measures which aim at renewing domestic economic policy in order to foster its real and organic development. These suggestions must be taken into serious account. Finally, it is important to make certain that all foreign aid, not merely financial aid, be the fruit of a solidarity on the part of the wealthy with those who are poorer a solidarity that employs truly disinterested measures, as opposed to measures that would constitute new forms of domination.
5. The struggle against hunger involves, in a way that is becoming ever more evident, the requirement that the nations of the entire world be subject to generally recognized and workable norms in the business sector. This is particularly important for the less developed countries, in order to safeguard their ability to export their products, especially agricultural ones. What mast be avoided are all those recurring forms of protectionism which end in creating increasing obstacles to trade or, in some cases, actually barring developing countries from access to markets. In this regard, an evaluation of the patterns of conduct emerging in those businesses developing within GATT is in order. There, for the first time, updated criteria for mutual regulation in commercial relations among States have been established. These criteria have a direct reference to agro-alimentary products and to the possibility of their trade on the world market.
6. Concern must also be voiced about the deterioration of food security in the present world situation. Indeed, parallel to the notable increase in world population there has been a recent decline on the world level in the availability of foodstuffs. The result has been a reduction of those reserves which constitute a needed guarantee against crises of hunger and malnutrition. Similarly, in the countries where production is high, this has been artificially reduced by a sector-oriented policy, which reflects a closed market calculation. Whatever its domestic value, such a policy is certainly not in harmony with a solidarity open to world needs and acting in favour of those who are most needy.
7. The protection of the natural environment has become a new and integral aspect of the development issue. When we pay proper attention to its ecological dimension, the struggle against hunger appears even more complex, and calls for the establishment of new bonds of solidarity. Concern for ecology, seen in connection with the process of development and in particular the requirements of production, demands first of all that in every economic enterprise there be a rational and calculated use of resources. It has become increasingly evident that an indiscriminate use of available natural goods, with harm to the primary sources of energy and resources and to the natural environment in general , entails a serious moral responsibility. Not only the present generation but also future generations are affected by such actions.
8. Economic activity carries with it the obligation to use the goods of nature reasonably. But it also involves the grave moral obligation both to repair damage already inflicted on nature and to prevent any negative effects which may later arise. A more careful control of possible consequences on the natural environment is required in the wake of industrialization, especially in regard to toxic residue, and in those areas marked by an excessive use of chemicals in agriculture.
The relationship between problems of development and ecology also demands that economic activity project and accept the expenses entailed by environmental protection measures demanded by the community, be it local or global, in which that activity takes place. Such expenses must not be accounted as an incidental surcharge, but rather as an essential element of the actual cost of economic activity.
The result will be a more limited profit than was possible in the past, as well as the acknowledgment of new costs deriving from environmental protection. Those costs must be taken into account both in the management of individual businesses and in nation-wide programmes of economic and financial policy, which must now be approached in the perspective of regional and world economy.
In the end, we are called to operate beyond narrow national self-interest and a sectorial defense of the prosperity of particular groups and individuals. These new criteria and costs must find their place in the projected budgets of programmes of economic and financial policy for all countries, both the developed and the developing.
9. Today, there is a rising awareness that the adoption of measures to protect the environment implies a real and necessary solidarity among nations. It is becoming more apparent that an effective solution to the problems raised by the risk of atomic and atmospheric pollution and the deterioration of the general conditions of nature and human life can be provided only on the world level. This in turn entails a recognition of the increasing interdependence which characterizes our age. Indeed, it is increasingly evident that development policies demand a genuine international cooperation, carried out in accord with decisions made jointly and within the context of a universal vision, one which considers the good of the human family in both the present generation and in those to come.
10. Finally, I am pleased to note the very particular attention which FAO has given to the women's issue, as it emerges in agricultural and rural development problems. This attention helps make the transition from those affirmations of the dignity and equality of women contained in the Universal Declarations of the United Nations and in certain regional organizations to the many more specific questions involving women's integration into the overall process of agricultural and food development. It also helps to suggest appropriate applications, not only in the developing countries but also in those that are industrially advanced.
I am particularly pleased that in addition to paying due attention to the strictly economic aspects of women's contribution both to agricultural production and to the transformation and commercialization of food products, one also finds explicit reference to women's dignity as human persons as the basis for their just integration not only in the production process but into the life of society as a whole. I find here a clear parallel to my teaching in the Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem. In that Letter, I made reference to various dimensions of the Christian vision of the dignity and vocation of woman. It is my conviction that only within a perspective of an affirmation of the dignity of women as human persons can there come about a just consideration of their participation in socio-economic development, rural progress and civil growth.
Finally, I wish to express my appreciation for the treatment of those themes which have been explored by the work of the present General Conference of the FAO. I am pleased that in the preparatory documentation those themes were treated not only with regard to the programme and budget of the coming two-year period, but within the broader perspective of the major problems of the present day. lt is my hope that FAO will succeed in making a vital contribution to that international strategy for development which the United Nations Organization has sought to encourage and which men and women of every nation increasingly perceive as an urgent demand of justice and human solidarity in today's world.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: upon all of you, and upon Your work, I cordially invoke God's abundant blessings.
It is a great joy for me to greet you, the Innu people of Quebec and Labrador in Canada, on the occasion of your visit to Rome. You have wished to meet the Pope and to share with him your concerns for the future of your way of life.
Your presence here today calls to mind the words I spoke at Fort Simpson during my brief visit to Canada in 1987: “As native peoples you are faced with a supreme test: that of promoting the religious, cultural and social values that will uphold your human dignity and ensure your future well-being. Your sense of sharing, your understanding of human community rooted in the family, the highly valued relationships between your elders and your young people, your spiritual view of creation which calls for responsible care and protection of the environment – all of these traditional aspects of your way of life need to be preserved and cherished” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia in loco v. d. Fort Simpson, die 20 sept. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 3  694).
The Church is greatly concerned that these valid aspects of your way of life be defended and strengthened for the good of your people. But she also realizes that you yourselves are the principal agents of your own development, a development which springs primarily from the spiritual and moral fibre of the people themselves. The Church accompanies you in this task and supports you in seeking just and equitable solutions to the situations that threaten your well-being and the future good of your communities. As persons created in the divine image and likeness, and as God’s sons and daughters by Baptism, each of you is dear to the Church and to the heart of the Pope.
May our meeting today strengthen your resolve to be faithful followers of Christ and courageous witnesses to the Gospel. I invite you to have an ever greater compassion and solidarity with all those who, like you, struggle to ensure for themselves and their loved ones a future filled with spiritual and material blessings, and who yearn for a world marked by greater justice, love and peace.
I pledge my continued prayers that Mary, the Mother of God, will intercede for you and for all the members of your communities. With affection in the Lord I cordially impart to you and your families my Apostolic Blessing.
I am pleased to greet the participants in the “Global Studies Program” and to welcome you to the Vatican. In your studies, you are exploring the many challenges and possibilities which face countries throughout the world in their search for freedom, peace and authentic social and economic progress.
I am sure that your visit to Rome will be a privileged moment of your year of study. This city, with its archaeological, artistic and religious monuments, bears eloquent witness to Europe’s quest down the centuries to create a civilization directed by the pursuit of the common good, inspired by the highest human values and expressed in the life of a community governed by a just and humane system of laws. These efforts have not always been completely successful, but your studies will certainly lead you to understand the importance of Europe’s spiritual unity based upon the values of the Christian Gospel, and enable you to appreciate how significant this cultural and religious heritage is today in the historic developments taking place around us.
In mankind’s quest for peace and justice, the Catholic Church has a specific contribution to make, which derives from the Gospel message concerning the dignity of each individual as a person created in the image and likeness of God. As you reflect on the impressive cultural heritage which Christian Rome has bequeathed to the modern world, may you perceive the enduring power of the spiritual vision of man which has been its inspiration and guiding force.
Ladies and Gentlemen: there can be no true freedom, no just economic order and no lasting peace, unless the dignity and truth of the human person are unceasingly proclaimed, respected and defended. As you continue your studies, may you understand ever more deeply the unchanging spiritual values which underlie any authentic development of individuals and of human society.
Upon each of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
Your visit to the Vatican this morning marks the beginning of your mission as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the Holy See. I am pleased to accept your Letters of Credence and I ask you to convey my greetings to the Presidency of the Republic and to its President, Dr Drnovsek. On this occasion, I wish to assure you of my deep esteem for all the people of the Federation and of my best wishes for their peace and prosperity.
In your address, you have spoken of the goals of world peace and of an international order grounded in justice and respect for the rights of the human person, as well as of the belief that the elimination of all forms of discrimination is a necessary condition for the peaceful co-existence of the entire human race. These convictions are fully shared by the Holy See, and their defence and promotion constitute the constant aim of the Holy See’s participation in the life of the International community. As I have frequently had the occasion to recall, there can be no just and lasting peace among nations and social groups as long as fundamental human rights, and indeed human persons themselves, are held in contempt.
As I wrote in my first Encyclical over ten years ago, “peace comes down to respect for man’s inviolable rights” (Redemptor Hominis RH 17). This truth should become eminently clear to all in light of the events of our own century. The unprecedented horrors of the last world war were ultimately born of a contempt for the dignity of man. In response to this threat to human dignity and world peace, the international community during the post-war period has felt it necessary to define those fundamental human rights which no person or collectivity is entitled to violate. The resulting formulations, to which Your Excellency has made opportune reference in your address, provide a sound basis for the promotion of peace and cooperation among nations. It is imperative that they be respected in letter and in spirit.
Within the international community, the Church’s defence of human rights is intimately related to her universal religious mission. In preaching the Word of God and imparting knowledge of the law which the Creator has inscribed in nature and in the human conscience, the Church teaches respect for the inalienable dignity of every person and thus serves the authentic good of humanity. Because of her religious mission to work for the integral good of man, “she everywhere contributes to strengthening peace and, to placing brotherly relations between individuals and peoples on solid ground” (Gaudium et Spes GS 89). The Church claims no technical expertise in the political, economic or social order. Her mission remains specifically a religious one: she seeks to open people’s hearts to the truth and, in serving the truth; to expend her efforts for the good of all mankind.
It is the Church’s conviction that the rejection of discrimination and injustice can only be the fruit of a human solidarity which is rooted in the brotherhood and equal dignity of all the members of the human family. In our own day, we are witnessing a growing awareness of the powerful bonds of solidarity which unite individuals and nations throughout the world in their search for a truly humane political and social life. In my recent Encyclical “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”, I pointed to the positive moral value of this awareness, which demands of us “ a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual ” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38).
Within the community of nations, the Holy See wishes to foster this moral awareness and encourage initiatives which seek to give expression to it in the changing circumstances of today’s world. I am confident that these aspirations are shared by the Government and people of Yugoslavia and will continue to find expression in your concern to protect the rights and legitimate freedoms of individuals and peoples both at home and abroad. As Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, your Nation has a significant role to play in the promotion of dialogue, mutual understanding and peacemaking among countries and social groups.
Within your country, there is a large and active Catholic community. As Pastor of the universal Church, I am pleased to note that the conditions of the local Church in Yugoslavia have seen some improvement in recent years. I am confident that this process will continue and that the Church in Yugoslavia will be granted full freedom in the exercise of her proper mission, also in the field of religious education at all levels and in the spiritual assistance of those who are hospitalized and of those engaged in military service.
It is my hope, Mr Ambassador, that your mission as the representative of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to the Holy See will serve to further the spirit of collaboration that has characterized our relations in the past. In assuring you of the ready cooperation of the various offices of the Holy See in the fulfilment of your mission, I offer you my best wishes and ask God to bless you in the important work which you have undertaken.
I am pleased to welcome you, the participants in the Muslim Christian Colloquium on “Religious Education and Modern Society”, jointly organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Al al-Bait Foundation of Amman, Jordan. I congratulate you on the choice of this theme, which deserves careful attention on the part of religious educators.
In the contemporary world, great challenges are facing humanity. Advances in the fields of science and technology, in communications, in health care and social services – to mention but a few – offer the promise of a better life for the human family. But in many ways these same advances present ambiguous and even negative aspects, including the fact that the ease of modern life is sometimes accompanied by the danger that people may forget or ignore the transcendent, spiritual aspect of the human person before God.
On the one hand, material comforts and advances are not distributed equally within the human family. Poverty is a widespread and oppressive factor in the lives of millions and raises issues of justice and the defence of human dignity. On the other, increasing material well-being sometimes leads to an exaggerated individualism, a frantic quest for self-fulfilment, a sense of lonely isolation within society, and violent or self-destructive practices. Such circumstances often contain an implicit refusal to acknowledge God as the Creator and Lawgiver, whose will mankind should respect and obey.
Although there are specific differences between us, Christians and Muslims both hold that the true path towards human fulfilment lies in carrying out the divine will in our personal and social lives. For this reason we have much to discuss concerning the ways of teaching religious values to the younger generations.
Our youth need to learn the transcendent sense of human life, so that they may be equipped to view critically all aspects of modern living. They must know how to discern between those scientific and technological advances which enhance human life and those which plant seeds of destruction. They must be educated to understand that an uncritical acceptance of all that modern life has to offer can lead to selfishness and unchecked ambition.
At the same time, turning backwards and rejecting development is unrealistic and implies a lack of confidence in the intellectual powers with which. God has endowed humanity, It amounts to an abdication of the very vocation which God has given to man – the vocation to collaborate with him in the work of creation.
Young people are best served by being taught to discover God and his will within the new confines of their modern surroundings. This includes rediscovering the social nature of human life, and the inalienable rights and pressing responsibilities of individuals. They should understand the changes taking place in our world, so that they can continue to bear a dynamic message of transcendent hope to the society of our time. Furthermore, religious education, of its very nature, must teach respect for others and openness to them as children of God independently of race, religion, economic status, gender, language or ethnic group.
Ultimately, the heart of all religious education is the endeavour to bring the student to a personal awareness of and encounter with the Living God. Thus, religious education is not merely talking about God, but accompanying young people in their search for God, deepening their desire to know him and to do his will. Through the work of your Colloquium, may you all, Christians and Muslims, advance in the knowledge of the ways of communicating better the religious values which the contemporary world so urgently needs. I pray that your meeting will be a further step forward in the spirit of collaboration and in common witness to the One God.
May the blessings of the Most High God be upon you!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am pleased to welcome you, distinguished participants in the latest Symposium sponsored by “Nova Spes” International Foundation. My particular greeting goes to Cardinal Koenig, the President and Founder of “Nova Spes”. To all of you, representatives of the natural and social sciences, philosophy and theology, I express my gratitude for the important interdisciplinary work which you have undertaken on a subject of increasing concern to all those who hold the good of mankind at heart.
Your discussions during these last days have explored the many aspects of the Symposium’s stated theme: “Man, the Environment and Development – Towards a Global Approach”. In considering the problem of the environment, a global and ethical perspective is indispensable, since the environment is not only the setting in which the great drama of human history is played out, but in a sense it is also an active participant in that drama. There is a living interaction between man and the environment, within which he grows in knowledge of himself, of his place within God’s creation, and indeed comes to appreciate the value, the potential and the limitations of all human life and labour.
2. It is in just such a global and ethical perspective that I address the question of ecology in my Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, entitled “ Peace with God the Creator; Peace with all Creation ”. This message emphasizes the fundamentally moral character of the ecological crisis and its close relationship to the search for genuine and lasting world peace. In calling attention to the ethical principles which are essential for an adequate and lasting solution to that crisis. I lay particular emphasis on the value of respect for life and for the integrity of the created order (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1990, 7, die 8 dec. 1989: vide supra, p. 1463).
Since the ecological crisis is fundamentally a moral issue, it requires that all people respond in solidarity to what is a common threat. Uncontrolled exploitation of the natural environment not only menaces the survival of the human race; it also threatens the natural order in which mankind is meant to receive and to hand on God’s gift of life with dignity and freedom. Today responsible men and women are increasingly aware that we must pay “attention to what the earth and its atmosphere are telling us: namely, that there is an order in the universe which must be respected, and that the human person, endowed with the capability of choosing freely has a grave responsibility to preserve this order for the well-being of future generations” (Ibid.15: vide supra, p. 1472).
Concern for the environment, guided by objective ethical principles and marked by true human solidarity, is ultimately rooted in man’s very nature as a rational and free being who is constantly interacting with his surroundings. As the ecological crisis makes abundantly clear, man’s individual and social development cannot be considered apart from the natural environment. Within this broader perspective man bears a grave responsibility for wisely managing the environment. Indeed, his responsibility increases as he becomes ever more capable of introducing substantial modifications in his natural surroundings.
3. A satisfactory description of the relationship between the environment and development must take into account the person in all his dimensions as well as the respect due to nature, ever mindful of man’s central place within the environment. Authentic human development can hardly ignore the solidarity which binds man and his environment, nor can it exclude a universal concern for the needs of all the earth’s peoples. Any attempt to assess the relationship between environment and development which ignores these deeper realities will inevitably lead to further and perhaps more destabilizing imbalances.
Seeing the issue of ecology within a global perspective which takes account of the human person in all his dimensions and of the requirements of an authentically human development may properly be considered one of the great challenges of our time. Should the present generation face this challenge wisely, we may be confident that it will contribute in no small way to resolving other pressing international questions as well. In the end, what is required of us all is an increased awareness of the unity of the human family, in which man remains solidly rooted in his particular culture, and yet is capable of transcending the limits imposed by geography, ideology, race and religion. And in relation to the world’s nations, the need for solidarity in the face of the threats to our common environment presents “new opportunities for strengthening cooperative and peaceful relations among States” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1990, 7, die 8 dec. 1989: vide supra, p. 1469).
4. The environmental decisions which are adopted today must also take into account the moral responsibility which we bear towards future generations. For this reason, I have spoken of the need for a new “education in ecological responsibility”, one which entails a genuine conversion in our patterns of thought and behaviour (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1990, 7, die 8 dec. 1989: vide supra, p. 1471). This moral imperative is rooted in our common humanity and in the universal ethical demands which flow from it. “Even men and women without any particular religious conviction, but with an acute sense of their responsibilities for the common good, recognize their obligation to contribute to the restoration of a healthy environment” (Ibid. 15: vide supra, p. 1472).
Christians, for their part, will find inspiration for this task in their belief in God as the Creator of the world and in Jesus Christ as the one who has reconciled to himself all things “whether on earth or in heaven” (Cfr. Col Col 1,20).
Our own generation has been blessed in having inherited from the industry of past generations the great wealth of material and spiritual goods which stand at the foundations of our society and its progress.
Universal solidarity now demands that we consider it our grave duty to safeguard that inheritance for all our brothers and sisters and to assure that each and every member of the human family may enjoy its benefits.
5. Dear Friends: in expressing my gratitude to “Nova Spes” for its commitment to the process of reflection on these problems, I also express the hope that your work will be a fruitful incentive for yourselves and your colleagues to carry on the important work of promoting those values and programmes that can guarantee and develop improved living conditions for all people, facing the ecological crisis in a spirit of authentic solidarity, fraternal charity and unfailing respect towards all people and all nations. I am pleased to renew to you, men and women of thought and science, the assurance expressed by the Second Vatican Council that in the Church you have a friend of your vocation as researchers, a companion in your efforts, an admirer of your successes, and if necessary, a consoler in your discouragement and failures (Cfr. Patrum Conc. Nuntii quibusdam hominum ordinibus dati: Aux hommes de la pensée et de la science, die 8 dec. 1965: AAS 58  8-18).
As I entrust your endeavours to God, the Creator of heaven and earth and of all that is seen and unseen, I assure you of my prayers. Upon all of you I willingly invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.
Speeches 1989 - ON THE OCCASION OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE OF FAO