Pope Francis on Monday urged the public to “leave no one behind” in the global battle against poverty, hunger, and the lack of access to clean water.
In his message on 2023 World Food Day, the pontiff said the world is facing a stark reality and plagued by poverty and despair, with countless individuals suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
“The cries of anguish and despair of the poor should awaken us from the lethargy that grips us, and appeals to our consciences,” the pope said in his message addressed to the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The pontiff stressed that these conditions of suffering are the direct result of an unjust accumulation of inequalities and injustices that have left many on the margins of society.
Pope Francis referred to this situation as a direct affront to the God-given human dignity of all individuals. “It is indeed an insult that should make the whole of humanity ashamed, and mobilize the international community.” he said.
The theme of this year’s World Food Day, “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind,” was a central focus of Pope Francis’s message. He underscored the invaluable role of water as a resource essential for all living beings on Earth.
The Pope expressed deep concern about the challenges faced by water resources, both in terms of quantity and quality.
Many regions of the world suffer from diseases and loss of life due to a lack of clean water, often caused by droughts induced by climate change.
“The arbitrary management of water resources, their distortion, and pollution, are particularly damaging to the poor and are a shameful affront to which we cannot remain indifferent,” he said.
Recently, the pontiff issued an appeal to ‘respect’ humanitarian law in Gaza, where over 2 million Palestinians are denied access to water, food, and fuel due to Israel cutting off the supply.
The pontiff said access to safe drinkable water is “a basic and universal human right”, “essential for human survival,” and “the exercise of other human rights”.
He emphasized that water should never be treated as a mere commodity, subject to exchange or speculation.
Pope Francis called on international organizations, governments, and civil society to work together in making water a common heritage, ensuring equitable distribution, and sustainable management.
“Huge financial resources and innovative technologies that could be used to make water a source of life and progress for all are being diverted to arms production and trade. Never before has it been more urgent to become promoters of dialogue and peacemakers,” he said.
“The Church never tires of sowing those values that will build a civilization that finds in love, mutual respect, and reciprocal help a compass to guide its steps, turning above all to those brothers and sisters who suffer most, such as the hungry and the thirsty,” the pope added.