June 6, 2013
|The Pope dedicated his Wednesday audience, which attracted thousands of pilgrims from around the world, to the UN’s World Environment Day.|
The pontiff dedicated his weekly audience in St Peter’s Square to the United Nations World Environment Day to draw attention to the excesses of consumerism and food wastage.
“This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition,” the Pope said.
“Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times we are no longer able to give a just value.
“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of the poor and the hungry,” he said.
Since taking office in March, Pope Francis has called for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to do more to defend the poor and to practise greater austerity itself. He has also made several calls for global financial reform.
The Pope dedicated his Wednesday audience, which attracted thousands of pilgrims from around the world, to the UN’s World Environment Day.
The audience added a personal element for the Argentinian-born pontiff as 30 Italian relatives came to the Vatican from northern Italy to greet him. The Pope was born in Buenos Aires to Italian migrants.
“According to an Argentinian source who studied our family tree, my great grandfather was the brother of Pope Francis’s great-grandfather,” said Luigi Bergoglio from Santena in the region of Piedmont.
The Pope urged people to care for the environment and reduce waste.
“Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it?
“Cultivating and caring for creation is God’s indication given to each one of us not only at the beginning of history. It means nurturing the world with responsibility and transforming it into a garden, a habitable place for everyone.”
Coldiretti, Italy’s largest agricultural organisation, welcomed the Pope’s speech and his recognition of farmers’ contribution to agriculture and cultivation.
“The globalisation of markets has reduced responsibility, honesty and transparency and provoked the international crisis,” said Sergio Marini, the president of Coldiretti. “I am grateful to the pope for recognising our work.”
Around 1.3 billion tonnes of food, or one third of what is produced for human consumption, gets lost or wasted every year, according to the United Nations’ food agency.
In his speech, Pope Francis denounced the fact that a 10-point drop in stock markets was widely considered “a tragedy” while homeless people dying on our streets was no longer news.
“Human ecology and environmental ecology walk hand in hand”, he said.