For I Was Hungry & You Gave Me Food: Pastoral Reflection - Part 6

Toward Commitment, Hope, and Challenge

Continuing Commitment

As a result of the listening sessions and dialogues that led to these reflections, we call upon the standing committees of our Conference (the Committees on Domestic Policy, International Policy, and Migration) to continue educating the Catholic community, policy makers, and the larger society about the ethical dimensions of agriculture and to follow through on our recommendations and policies with new urgency and priority. The wide range of concerns raised in our listening sessions requires the Conference to continue integrating the issues of agriculture into the agendas of its various committees and structures. We believe that this strategy of integration and collaboration will ensure a sustained, comprehensive, and necessary approach to pastoral care, policy development, and advocacy on issues of food, agriculture, trade, and international assistance.

A Word of Hope

Fundamentally, food and agriculture are about life: life for the hungry and for all who depend on farmers and farmworkers for what we eat every day. But they are also about life for farmworkers who risk their health to pick our food, sometimes not knowing what pesticides are in the field. They are about life for subsistence farmers in Africa trying to feed a family and make a meager living. They are about a way of life for farm families in the United   States who are unable to meet debt payments and face selling a farm that has been in the family for generations. These reflections call all of us to make the protection of life and dignity the foundation of our choices on agriculture.

We know these are not easy times, but as believers we have hope for the days ahead:

  • We have the capacity to overcome hunger in our nation and around the world. What an achievement that would be!
  • We stand with farmers, particularly those who own small and family farms here and abroad, in their struggle to live with dignity, to preserve a way of life, and to strengthen rural communities.
  • We insist that agricultural workers be treated with dignity—decent wages, safe working conditions, and a real voice in the workplace.
  • We advocate care for creation to protect the fields and streams, which are gifts of God.
  • We find in our faith—the lessons of Genesis, the passion of the prophets, and the words and life of Jesus—the ultimate source of hope.
The Challenge Ahead

Through the eyes of faith, these tasks are not options, but obligations. The Catholic community is discovering with new urgency that our faith calls us to strengthen our presence and witness, our advocacy and action in defense of the human life and dignity of hungry people, farmers and farmworkers, and God’s creation.

Our Conference has called all Catholics to work to ensure A   Place At The Table6 for all God’s children. Agriculture is at the heart of this moral challenge. As we have pointed out:

  • A table is where families gather for food, but some have little food or no table at all.
  • A table is where leaders gather in government and international negotiations and other forums to make decisions on trade and aid, subsidies and access. But some have no real voice at these tables.
  • For Catholics, the table is the altar at which we gather for Eucharist to transform “the fruit of the vine and work of human hands” into the Body and Blood of Christ. It is also the table from which we are sent forth to secure “a place at the table” for all.
We cannot secure a place at the table for all without a more just agricultural system. Some small farmers are losing their place at the table. Some farmworkers never had a place. And so many people in our own land and around the world, seeking to feed their children, have no real place at that table. The moral measure of our efforts is how our community of faith works together to secure a place at the table of life for all God’s children.