Fighting Global Hunger Knows No Sectarian or Religious Boundaries

Chris Herlinger | December 9, 2013

A man prays during a worship service of Nuer refugees from South Sudan who live in Cairo, Egypt. Photo: Paul Jeffrey

A man prays during a worship service of Nuer refugees from South Sudan who live in Cairo, Egypt. Photo: Paul Jeffrey

Church World Service is rooted in the Christian traditions of our member communions. But we are also proudly part of an ecumenical and interfaith tradition that works across lines of religious difference.

In our midst are colleagues, supporters and friends of different Christian traditions (mainline and evangelical Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, predominately black church, the so-called “peace church”) as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, “spiritual but not religious,” non-believers and others.

What unites us is a belief that the world can become a better place, and that, ultimately, we are capable of solving problems like global hunger.

In this, we have a most-admired ally.

Recently, the Vatican announced its support for a “wave of prayer” on the issue of hunger, with the blessing of Pope Francis. This action begins at noon tomorrow (Tuesday, Dec.  10) in the South Pacific. It then proceeds westward across all global time zones, Catholic News Service reported.

The pope plans to provide a blessing and word of support for the campaign – formally called “One Human Family, Food For All” – on the eve of the event.

Why Dec. 10? That is the United Nations’ Human Rights Day, and the right to food is enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The event is being organized by our colleagues at Caritas Internationalis, a federation of Catholic humanitarian groups. Through our association with the ACT Alliance, we have ties with Caritas – for example, CWS supported joint ACT/Caritas work in Darfur, Sudan.

Of course, the “who” of this campaign is not as important as the “what” – though it is gratifying to see the leader of the Roman Catholic Church champion the cause of fighting hunger globally, one of our cherished efforts at CWS.

We take heart in what Honduran

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, president of Caritas Internationalis, said in a message related to the campaign: “There is enough food to feed the planet. We believe that with your help and the help of governments and the U.N. we can end hunger by 2025.”

My CWS colleague Maurice A. Bloem said this about our fight against hunger: “Eliminating hunger has always an important part of the CWS mission, under our mandate to eradicate poverty and to promote peace and justice.”

Our recent sign-on to the Zero Hunger Challenge mirrors the Catholic Church’s efforts to eliminate hunger. Please join me and people from around the globe in the prayer wave tomorrow. No matter what it is called or who does it, the fight to stop global hunger knows no sectarian or religious boundaries. Nor should it.

Chris Herlinger is CWS’s senior writer