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U.N. Food Agencies Welcome Pope Francis’s Commitment To Helping Poor, Hungry

“United Nations officials [on Tuesday] 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,” the U.N. News Centre reports (3/19). “Striking a tone of radical humility that has already become his trademark, Pope Francis offered a passionate pledge in his installation mass on Tuesday to serve ‘the poorest, the weakest, the least important,’ urging world leaders to protect human life and the environment and use tenderness to inspire hope,” the New York Times states (Povoledo/Donadio, 3/19). “The Catholic Church inaugurated Pope Francis as its first Latin American and Jesuit head Tuesday morning, vesting the Argentine with the trappings of authority at an open-air mass in St. Peter’s Square attended by more than 150,000 people,” the Washington Post notes (Horowitz, 3/19).

U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano Da Silva, who attended the mass, said, “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,” according to the U.N. News Centre. World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, who also attended, 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,” the news service writes (3/19). “I’d like to ask, please, to anyone who is in charge of the economy, politics, society — to all men and women of good will — let’s be custodians of creation and of the design of God inscribed in nature — custodian of others and of the environment,” Pope Francis said, according to the Wall Street Journal (Fairclough/Meichtry, 3/19).