This is the prepared text of the keynote address Richard E. Pates, the bishop of the Des Moines Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, delivered Tuesday at the Iowa Hunger Summit.
I welcome all of you from across Iowa and the country to our beautiful city of Des Moines. The opportunity to address you is one of the wonderful perks of being the Bishop of Des Moines.
I often remind people that Iowa is in the heartland of our great nation. We are not the heartland simply because we are part of our country's breadbasket, but also because we give witness to a heartfelt solidarity with those who live in poverty and hunger, both here in the United States and abroad. Dr. Norman Borlaug, our favorite son, gave witness to this with his life's work.
For me as a Catholic bishop, food security and the relationship between food and peace are moral issues. In our Christian tradition we believe that lifting people out of poverty and feeding the hungry are serving Jesus in disguise. "For I was hungry and you gave me to eat." (Matthew 25).
Recently, I stood on the Mount of Beatitudes and celebrated Mass with 17 of my brother bishops on a Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land. In the Beatitudes, we read: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied" and "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." (Matthew 5: 6, 9)
These two Beatitudes connect the righteous pursuit of justice and the building of peace. People whose basic necessities of life are satisfied are less likely to engage in conflict. Peace is the fruit of justice.
Today, I want to speak to you based on my ministry as the chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Through my work with the members and staff of the committee and extensive travel around the world, I've encountered people in many developing countries struggling to overcome the effects of poverty, hunger and conflict.
I've also seen the inspiring and humbling work of the church to support those in need through acts of solidarity, charity and empowerment. I have witnessed the mission of Catholic Relief Services that partners with the church in the developing world to alleviate hunger and poverty and build peace. CRS serves all on the basis of need, not creed.
I have learned a lifetime of lessons in these past three years as chair of the International Committee. Drawing from my solidarity trips, I hope to describe what hunger in the developing world looks like and to explore three root causes of hunger: conflict, climate change and the harmful expropriation of land from poor farmers, so-called "land-grabbing".
What does hunger in our world look like? The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 805 million people live with hunger: one in nine people on the planet. The vast majority of the hungry lives in the developing world. Hunger rates are highest in Africa where more than 25 percent are chronically hungry.
In response to this unacceptable level of hunger in a world of abundance, Pope Francis said: It is a scandal that there is still hunger and malnutrition in the world! It is not just a question of responding to immediate emergencies, but of addressing altogether, at all levels, a problem that challenges our personal and social conscience, in order to achieve a just and lasting solution.
For the complete article, please see The Des Moines Register.