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“Between now and 2050, we need to double the food supply,” said Dr. Robert Fraley, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Monsanto, during an interview with National Public Radio’s Takeaway host John Hockenberry. But according to ActionAid’s report, “Rising to the Challenge: Changing Course to Feed the World in 2050,” the solutions lie not in increasing industrial food production.
     The hungry are not hungry because the world lacks food. We grow enough food right now to feed about 10 billion people, yet according to the UN nearly one billion of today’s seven billion people are chronically undernourished and well over that number suffer from significant malnutrition in a world of plenty. They are hungry because they are poor, and they are poor because they are either small-scale farmers without enough land, credit, extension services, or investment, or they are underemployed workers with incomes too low to support their families.
      We can feed the world in 2050 if we stop focusing only on producing more agricultural commodities. Instead, let’s increase the availability of land and food by reducing biofuel production, get more of the food we grow to the dinner table by reducing food waste, and invest in the most important food producers in the world: small-scale and family farmers.

Excerpted from The Christian Science Monitor

Mining and other extractive industries have long been a major concern for Franciscans. In resource-rich countries we see large corporations reaping profits at the cost of environmental destruction and other devastating impacts borne primarily by vulnerable or marginalized groups. The global Franciscan family has increasingly sought out ways to take decisive and concrete action at regional or international levels in favor or more just policies and practices related to mining. Efforts such as the Integrity of Creation Working Group of the USG-UISG’s JPIC Commission; the grassroots Dialogue on Life and Mining in Latin America; faith-based and lay organizations operating at NGO Mining Working Group at the UN; the UN Global Forum on Business and Human Rights are just a few of the initiatives focused specifically on concerns relating to mining in Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, and the Philippines. Franciscans continue this work because of our shared vision of a society that is organized consistent with Franciscan values, respecting human rights and the integrity of creation, guaranteeing an equitable sharing of resources and ensuring lasting peace.

Condensed from Contact October 2014
Franciscans International, New York Office

“Sustainability depends upon the equilibrium of entire ecosystems.” The UN Conference on Sustainable Development reaffirmed the importance of freedom, peace and security, respect for all human rights --including the right to development, the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to food and water, the rule of law, good governance …
     In a world under threat of nuclear weapons, these human rights frequently take a backseat to other concerns. Nuclear weapons did not just appear from nowhere; they are of human creation, products of scientific research and technological innovation that have created a monster that threatens the survival of life on Earth and cause irreversible damage to the environment. The results of scientific research that goes unaccompanied by ethical reflection can be disastrous. The God-given ability to reflect upon our actions and how they affect others is the way to curb those actions that cause harm.
     As Jesus said, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” Our duty then is to save ourselves and future generations from perishing from the monster of our own creation through embracing humility and loving life.

Condensed from “Sustainability and nuclear weapons”
NewsNotes Nov-Dec 2014, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

A disease outbreak is a story that can really absorb our attention. This is the case with the current outbreak of Ebola. Ebola is killing people, but its true power comes from poverty and political instability. In public health, five determinants are identified: genetics, personal behavior, medical care, physical environment and socioeconomic factors. The first three get most of the attention but the last two are far more powerful than we realize.
     The outbreak of Ebola eventually will be stopped. Yet the social conditions that allowed its spread will continue in every corner of the world. If we are truly interested in stopping Ebola and other contagious diseases, we will look to our responsibility for these events. Although in the past century human life expectancy has increased by over 30 years, primarily due to improving social determinants of health, the gains have been unevenly distributed. We have the ability to achieve even greater improvements in health and the widespread attention to Ebola presents an opportunity to do just that.

Condensed from “Behind the Headlines” by Michael Rozier, pp.27-29
America, The National Catholic Review Nov. 17, 2014

People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalized are especially vulnerable to climate change and experience great inequalities in socioeconomic status and income, the result of discrimination based on gender, class, ethnicity, age and disability.  That conclusion came not from Pope Francis or an environmentally focused religious community, but from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  A 4-degree increase in average temperature risks substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, consequential constraints on common human activities, and limited potential for adaptation in some cases. Along with it increased poverty and displacement of people, coastal flooding, exacerbated health problems and an indirect amplification of violent conflicts may result. While these impacts will disproportionately affect the welfare of the poor in rural areas, such as female-headed households and those with limited access to land, modern agricultural inputs, infrastructure, and education, they are also projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing poverty traps and create new ones, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hotspots of hunger.

Summarized from UN report: “As climate warms, poverty will grow” by Brian Roewe
Nov 4, 2014 Eco Catholic   NCR

Catholic teaching has long recognized that the most profound harms of economic inequality lie not merely in the material realm but in the social, psychological and political effects that flow from great economic inequalities. Those who are marginalized economically are also marginalized educationally, residentially, and in their opportunities for meaningful work. Pope Francis diagnoses three cultural assumptions that are the basis of the scandal of economic inequality: that current levels of domestic and international economic inequality are a natural part of healthy economic life; that freedom of markets is a categorical imperative rather than an instrumental freedom; and that there is a fundamental divide in American society between those who contribute to society economically and those who do not.
     Pope Francis has repeatedly said: “We cannot resign ourselves to losing a whole generation of young people who don’t have the strong dignity of work…. Not having work does not just mean not having what one needs to live … the problem is not being able to bring bread to the table and this takes away one’s dignity.” Pope Francis has given us the challenge and vision to create an inclusive society, both as followers of Jesus Christ and as citizens who love our country.

Summarized from “Market Assumptions Pope Francis’ challenge to income inequality”
by Robert W. McElroy, pp. 14-18
America, The National Catholic Review   November 3, 2014

For more than 30 years and two papacies, Catholics have been conditioned to accept that discussion of certain topics, certain pastoral approaches, certain questions related to contemporary life … would surely never occur among church leaders. And then along came Pope Francis. He said those rules and presumptions no longer apply, that discussion was not to be censored, that no topics or questions were to be off the table. We wait with hope to hear from the US bishops how they plan to continue the conversation of the synod, and how widely they intend to consult and incorporate lay thinking on matters of marriage and family before the 2015 session.
     Perhaps by the end of this synod’s process, Catholics will recognize how much the church and its teachings have changed over centuries. One of the parallel realities to change in the church is that no mechanism exists for implementing it. The French geologist Xavier Le Pichon writes that systems that become too rigid evolve through “a commotion”; the earth’s plates collide and shatter and new formations occur. So it is with human systems, he writes. Using the analogy of earthquakes in trying to explain what is happening in this synod and, by extension, in the papacy of Francis, the messy commotion now occurring is a small price to pay to realize a church with a strong connection with the faithful.

Excerpted from “The Church needs this commotion,” p. 32
NCR Editorial   November 7-20, 2014

Russia’s recent international behavior has reached new heights of aggressiveness, prompting talk of the return of the Cold War. How to match the Russian threat is the big question. Managing relationships with Russia during this period will be complex. The challenge for the West is to behave in a manner that is consistent with its liberal principles and those of international law (avoiding intervention and power grabs) while holding off challenges and watching patiently as Russia’s transformation unfolds from the demands of internal sources.

Excerpted from “Don’t Feed the Bear Crafting an effective response to a newly assertive Russia”
by Lisa A. Baglione pp. 23-26
America, The National Catholic Review   Nov. 17, 2014

SJB Friars Commit to Eco-Friendly Practices: At their Chapter in May 2014, the Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province passed the following proposal:

“We commit to increasing our personal and communal efforts regarding environmentally-friendly practices so as to promote, in concrete ways, more sustainable lifestyles. Each friary will choose and commit to at least two practices, either from the provided list or another source, and share these with the JPIC Office by October 2014. The JPIC Office will monitor this initiative and annually report its findings to the Province at large.”

SJB Friars Commit to Refugees, Migrants and Victims of Human Trafficking: The Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province based in Cincinnati, Ohio, held their 2008 Chapter at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana May 19-23. Of the many proposals passed, the Chapter delegates affirmed a resolution to learn more about the issues of migrants, refugees and victims of human trafficking in order to better be able to respond to their needs. The resolution says:
 “We, the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province, commit ourselves to increase our awareness of issues surrounding refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking in order to develop more proactive Franciscan responses on the provincial, friary and personal level.”
SJB Friars Commit to Non-violence: The Franciscan Friars of St. John the Baptist Province based in Cincinnati, Ohio, held their 2005 Chapter at the University of Dayton, May 23-27. Among the many proposals that were passed, the Chapter delegates affirmed a resolution introduced by their JPIC Office in which they committed themselves to “continued conversion to a life of Franciscan non-violence in support of a consistent ethic of life.” The complete resolution follows.
“As Franciscans, we affirm the sacredness of all human life and the inherent value of all creation. In a world where violence is rampant, we wish to be a sign of hope, actively promoting the preservation of life, peace among people and nations, justice for all and reconciliation. We commit ourselves to continued conversion to a life of Franciscan non-violence in support of a consistent ethic of life.”