The plea “Give us this day our daily bread” needs to be heard by world leaders meeting in Rome on the global food crisis, say church representatives across the globe.
“The Lord’s Prayer highlights that having enough to eat is, and has always been, central to the Christian idea of a world shaped by justice and mercy,” observed Sushant Agrawal, Director of the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) in India. “If God’s will was done, no one would go hungry.”
At present 854 million people – one person in every eight – are hungry, and the current crisis caused by rapid increase in food prices may add another 100 million people to that count.
While the summit takes place in Rome, churches around the world have been sharing about their advocacy work on the underlying causes of the current desperate situation. The World Council of Churches (WCC), ACT International, ACT Development and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) asked their members and participants what campaigning and advocacy actions they were taking around the food crisis, along with any humanitarian or long-term development assistance.
“The WCC views the primary cause of the current crisis as inappropriate human actions which have induced climate change and skyrocketing food prices,” declared the WCC general secretary Rev Dr Samuel Kobia. “Human actions that are driven by greed have created poverty, hunger and climate change. Humanity must be challenged to overcome its greed.”
In the survey of church engagement in advocacy, Leena Hokkanen from DIACONIA in Peru highlighted the extent of the problem: “In the zones where our institution works chronic infant malnutrition runs at 56%.”
“The current crisis exposes the vulnerability of many poor people to price fluctuations and the limited ways in which they, and often their governments, are able to mitigate the effects of the crisis,” observed Oliver Pearce from Christian Aid. “We are calling for more space and tools to be available for communities and governments to deal with the effects of changing prices, in order to support vulnerable urban and rural communities.”
Churches are acting locally and thinking globally. Eliana Rolemberg, Director of CESE, a Brazilian organization, described work they are doing to advocate for food sovereignty of rural traditional populations, especially indigenous groups. Their efforts also address food security issues arising from increasing land use for biofuels in Brazil and from social and environmental impact of specific large development projects. Balancing this, she declared, “We think it is crucial to interlink responses for international advocacy, as these local issues are part of a global context.”
Churches around the world have developed many factsheets and other resources that help to explain how and why the food crisis has come about and suggest ways in which we can try and bring about just and sustainable solutions to hunger. (Some of these are available at [ http://www.e-alliance.ch/trade_foodcrisis.jsp ]www.e-alliance.ch/trade_foodcrisis.jsp.)
Source: World Council of Churches, ACT International, ACT Development and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
Action on behalf of justice is a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel.
Justice in the World – 1971 Synod of Bishops