VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Wednesday (June 5) denounced consumerism and what he called the “culture of waste” of modern economies, especially when it comes to food.

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Pope Francis issued a powerful call for the protection of the environment and of society’s most vulnerable during his formal installation Mass at the Vatican, while qualifying his papal power as a “service” to the church and to humanity. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

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“Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry,” he said during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square.

His words came on the day the United Nations launched an anti-food waste campaign to mark World Environment Day.

According to data provided by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, approximately 1.3 billion tons of food – one third of the world’s total food production – are lost or wasted every year. In the United States, 30 percent of all food is thrown away each year.

“Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily and we are unable to see its real value,” Francis said, comparing this attitude to the frugality of “our grandparents” who “used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food.”

In his speech, the pope also warned that a “culture of waste” and consumerism have dulled the moral sense of humanity to the point that when “some homeless people die of cold on the streets, it is not news. In contrast, a 10-point drop on the stock markets of some cities, is a tragedy.”

The Argentine pope has been a vocal advocate for the poor since his election to the papacy in March, and has personally practiced austerity at the Vatican, living in a guesthouse rather than in the papal apartments and cutting down on elaborate vestments and liturgies.



  1. Just think if ALL the world leaders..especially Pres. Obama..would follow his example. Oh, what a wonderful world this would be!! This world is full of corruption, so it’s nice to see some “good news” for a change!

  2. In 2011, 6.9 million children under five died of starvation and horrible diseases, which is down from the 7.6 million in 2010, down form 8.1 million in 2009, and down from the 12.4 million in 1990.

    It’s still going on, but things are improving.

    But since it goes on year after year after year, etc., it makes that one time event that involved people of numerous ages, that event known to the world as the German Holocaust, into very little in comparison.

    Yet, over the years, much focus has been given to the German Holocaust, but do you see a greater degree of coverage toward the dying children as there should be, considering the ongoing annual numbers and all.

    Mix that with people also wasting food, and you have a huge embarrassment on hand.

  3. This Pope’s obsession with poverty reminds me of a diversion tactic concerning some real other problems. There need to be rallies by Christians and especially Catholics protesting the treatment of Christians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Bahai, and Zorastrians by Islamists. Jews are not allowed to practice in Indonesia. Christians and Jews are not allowed to wear their insignia in Islamic countries. There are efforts to install shariah in western countries and to make us all dhimmi.
    I want the outspokenness of the most neglected pope in the 20th, that is, Pope Pius XI concerned with human rights issues not just the ever-present poverty.
    To paraphrase Jesus, the poor you will have with you always.

  4. During the potato famine, which was facilitated by the British government because food was produced in Ireland but forcibly sent to Britain, no one spoke up. Did the Roman Church send food to its own starving Irish? There were limited concerns for the Armenian holocaust which preceded the one by Hitler. It was very treacherous and was actually used by Hitler as a prototype for his. There was lots of starvation. Incidentally, weren’t there about five million others besides Jews in Hitler’s holocaust.

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