On Monday, Benedict XVI visited the headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, to speak on behalf of all people of the universal right to food. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, affirmed this on Octava Dies, as he analyzed the reasons the Pope was taking part in the world summit for food security.

The Vatican spokesman referred to a sentence from “Caritas in Veritate” (n. 27): “It is therefore necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination. In this document, Father Lombardi said, the Pontiff “highlights the fact that the right to food is essential to guarantee the very right that is first among all, the right to life. “Yes,” he added, “because one either dies from hunger or thirst, or if one does not die one lives only half a life.”

The summit, said the priest, “is taking place in a scenario in which the tragedy is too often forgotten.”

“It is evident that the principal way to address the problem and foster agricultural development in the poorest countries, is to involve the local communities as much as possible, putting ‘the human person at the center of development,'” added Father Lombardi, quoting the Pope’s encyclical.

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2009 (Zenit.org)