(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has told a Catholic association of farmers not to sacrifice the rhythms of agricultural life for monetary gains.
His address to the International Catholic Rural Association (ICRA) came on Saturday in the Vatican’s Consistory Hall.
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The International Catholic Rural Association promotes the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of agriculture, as well as international food security.
In his remarks, Pope Francis praised the association’s “concern for rural life, grounded in the vision of the Church’s social doctrine”.
He said, “It is an eloquent expression of that imperative to ‘till and keep the garden of the world’ (Laudato Si’, 67) to which we have been called, if we wish to carry on God’s creative activity and to protect our common home.”
Despite the centrality of agriculture to human life, the Holy Father said it is paradoxical that “agriculture is no longer considered a primary sector of the economy, yet it clearly continues to be important for policies of development and for addressing disparities in food security and issues in the life of rural communities”.
He also warned against the dangers of an exclusively economic focus in agriculture.
The Pope said farmers cannot focus on “making money above all else, even at the expense of sacrificing the rhythms of agricultural life, with its times of work and leisure, its weekly rest and its concern for the family”.
Pope Francis said ICRA shows that: “It is possible to combine being Christians with acting as Christians in the concrete circumstances of agricultural life, where the importance of the human person, the family and community, and a sense of solidarity represent essential values, even in situations of significant underdevelopment and poverty.”
He said, “May we never find ourselves “silent witnesses to terrible injustices”, as can happen when “we think that we can obtain significant benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, pay the extremely high costs of environmental deterioration” (Laudato Si’, 36).”
In conclusion, Pope Francis said the members of ICRA “are called to propose a sober lifestyle and a culture of agricultural work that has its foundations as well as its goals in the centrality of the person, in openness to others and in gratuitousness.”