Poverty June 13, 2016 | 4:45 pm

Pope Francis, Bread for the World president speak at World Food Program

Rome, Italy – Today, Pope Francis and Bread for the WorldPresident Rev. David Beckmann addressed the United Nations World Food Programme(WFP) on the need to end hunger and poverty. Beckmann addressed the WFP afterthe pope gave his remarks.

During his remarks, the pope said, “A people plays out itsfuture by its ability to respond to the hunger and thirst of its brothers andsisters. In that ability to come to the aid of the hungry and thirsty, we canmeasure the pulse of our humanity. For this reason, I desire that the fight toeradicate the hunger and thirst of our brothers and sisters, and with ourbrothers and sisters, will continue to challenge us to seek creative solutionsof change and transformation.”

Immediately following the pope’s remarks, Beckmann discussedhow faith-based organizations are uniquely powerful actors to end hunger.Beckmann and Pope Francis spoke during the WFP’s meetings on Inter-ReligiousEngagement for Zero Hunger. It was the first time a pope has visited theagency.

Beckmann also had an opportunity to meet with the pope.

“The feasibility of Zero Hunger has moral and spiritualimplications,” said Beckmann. “It is no longer ethically sufficient to helppeople in need. We aren’t acting ethically unless we are helping to end hunger,which means advocating for the systemic changes that are required. God’s graceleads directly to advocacy to end hunger.”

All of this comes during the important first year of worktoward the landmark Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 17 global goals,which have been agreed to by U.N. member states, aim to tackle the root causesof hunger and poverty.

Bread for the World, the largest anti-hunger advocacyorganization in the world, believes the WFP should support faith-based andcivil-society advocacy for Zero Hunger, the second of the SDGs.

“Bread for the World and the Alliance to End Hunger providean example of faith-based advocacy for the end of hunger,” said Beckmann.“Religion can be a powerful force in support of the SDGs and Zero Hunger.Working together, faith-based organizations and the World Food Programme can helpmake Zero Hunger a reality.”

He affirmed Bread’s interest in the proposed Inter-religiousCouncil on Ending Hunger. However, political will to end hunger is critical.

“Ending hunger by 2030 requires strong leadership from theU.S, which is the world’s largest development aid donor,” added Beckmann. “Thatis why it is critical during the 2016 elections that voters elect a presidentand a Congress committed to making ending poverty and hunger a priority.”

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