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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Pope Francis' Initiatives: Effective Action on Environment, Hunger and Human Rights

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Anthropologist Ellen Messer led a discussion on the “human right to food” at the Boisi Center on November 3. Messer, who holds faculty affiliations at Tufts University, Boston University and Brandeis University, addressed the causes of food insecurity around the globe and the role of the Catholic Church in addressing global hunger from a structural perspective.

Messer spoke about a broad spectrum of political and cultural variables that play into the issue of global hunger including immigration, Pope Francis’ efforts to promote solidarity in action and the impact of climate change on food supplies.

Messer also spoke about the handling of statistical analysis related to food. Messer challenged whether current statistics are calibrated accurately enough to fully capture the issues of global hunger and access to adequate nutrition. According to Messer, better analysis of the data might better inform policymakers and market participants when addressing the challenge of global hunger.

Messer highlighted that a central focus of the effort being led against global hunger is assessing the problem’s structural causes, not merely its symptoms. Some of these causes have substantial correlation with issues of biodiversity, environmental sustainability and climate change.

Under the leadership of Pope Francis, the Vatican has begun playing a significant role in rallying the attention of communities towards these issues, according to Messer. Its influence extends beyond the Catholics to other Christians and people of other faiths.