19 March 2013 United Nations officials today welcomed Pope Francis’ public commitment to support those who live in poverty and suffer from hunger, and expressed their readiness to work with the new leader of the Catholic Church on these issues.
“We look to Pope Francis to champion the rights and needs of the most vulnerable children, women and men everywhere,” said the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano Da Silva, who attended the Pope’s inaugural mass at the Vatican this morning.
The newly elected Pope, who hails from Argentina, chose his name after Saint Francis of Assisi, who was known as a friend to the poor.
“The support of the Vatican and other religions is indispensable in our bid to eradicate hunger, build a sustainable future, and improve the lives of the most vulnerable among us,” Mr. Graziano Da Silva said. “These efforts not only make political and economic sense, but morally they are also the right thing to do.”
Following the ceremony, Mr. Graziano Da Silva greeted the Pope, who reassured him that he “would continue the Vatican’s vocal support for pro-poor and anti-hunger action, and that he intended to follow up on our initial conversation to discuss ways to take this forward.”
The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, who was also at the inaugural mass, praised Pope Francis for his humility and his dedication to serving the world’s poor in his native Latin America.
“We welcome the voice of Pope Francis in advocating for the poor and hungry,” she said. “The Church has enormous influence in shaping policies that can reduce hunger in the developing world, and we celebrate Pope Francis’s interest in helping those in need.”
Both FAO and WFP have their headquarters in Rome, along with the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
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