Pope Francis can be a powerful leader in uniting all people and faiths in ending world hunger.
For any perceived differences that might exist among world religions and their followers certainly disappear when it comes down to the basic staple of food. Everyone on the planet needs access to food. The saving of human lives, the improvement of standards of living, and peacebuilding all rest first and foremost on food.
In 1920 when people were suffering from hunger in the aftermath of World War I, Pope Benedict XV praised a newly formed "European Relief Council" calling it "truly wonderful and providential" as it fed the hungry. The Pope said praised it "seeing that your work is not confined to any one people, but that it embraces all that are in need without distinction."
This relief council had brought together organizations including the National Catholic Welfare Council and the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. When a famine struck Russia in 1921 these groups continued their relief work saving countless lives. Pope Benedict sent trainloads of food and rallied support to help the starving people.
After World War II churches served as collection points where people dropped off donations of food to be shipped overseas to starving people in Europe and Asia. There were many countries still suffering from the destruction of the war. The hungry were not forgotten.
Pope Pius XII said, “We must not allow death to engrave on millions of tombs of innocent children the tragic words of accusation: The little ones have asked for bread and there was no one to break it to them.” Around this time a new organization called Catholic Relief Services got its start.
The Pope embraced ingenuity in fighting hunger, whether it was the CARE package of food which people sent overseas or the Friendship Train. This was the train that crossed America during 1947 collecting food for the hungry in Europe, which helped fuel the reconstruction of a continent.