Being America-centric I hadn't realized that today was the Italian Day of Thanksgiving, duly noted by our Holy Father. What he said about the problem of hunger will be good to remember as we approach our own tables of plenty....
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Today in Italy the annual Day of Thanksgiving is being observed, whose theme is "The Earth: a Gift for the Whole Human Family." In our families we teach the little ones to thank the Lord always before eating, with a brief prayer and the sign of the cross. This custom must be kept or rediscovered, because it teaches [us] not to take our "daily bread" for granted but to recognize in it a gift of Providence. We should get into the habit of blessing the Creator for each thing: for air and water, precious elements which are the foundation of life on our planet; as well as for food that, through the fecundity of the earth, God gives us for our sustenance. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, asking the heavenly Father not for "my" but for "our" daily bread. Thus he wanted every man to feel co-responsible for his brothers, so that no one would be without what is necessary to live. The earth's products are a gift given by God "for the whole human family."
And here we touch upon a very painful point: the tragedy of hunger that, despite the fact that even recently it has been addressed in the highest institutional quarters, such as the United Nations and in particular the FAO, continues to be very grave always. The last annual FAO report confirmed what the Church knows very well through the direct experience of communities and missionaries: that more than 800 million people live in a situation of malnutrition and too many people, especially children, die of hunger.
How can this situation be addressed that, though repeatedly denounced, is not resolved, but on the contrary is getting worse in different ways? Surely it is necessary to eliminate the structural causes linked to the system of government of the world economy, which allocates the greater part of the planet's resources to a minority of the population. This injustice was criticized on different occasions by my venerated predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II.
To be able to influence on a large scale it is necessary "to convert" the model of global development; this is required now not only by the scandal of hunger, but also by the environmental and energy emergencies. However, each person and each family can and must do something to alleviate hunger in the world, adopting a style of life and consumption compatible with the safeguarding of creation and with criteria of justice toward those who cultivate the land in every country.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today, the Day of Thanksgiving invites us, on one hand, to thank God for the fruits of agricultural labor and, on the other, it encourages us to be committed concretely to eradicate the scourge of hunger. May the Virgin Mary help us to be grateful for the benefits of Providence and to promote justice and solidarity in all parts of the globe