Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pope says Food is a Right For Everyone

1 comment:

Alex Binz said...

This statement pains me. I love Pope Benedict, but the statement that food is a right (not a commodity) that ought not be tied to market forces is incredibly problematic. My background and training is in the history of economics. Food has always been a commodity, and has always been tied to the market. Indeed, it used to be the basis for market going up and down, with the seasonal cycles and occasional years of feast or famine.

I think we must speak of the moral imperative of charity and especially of preserving life by feeding the hungry. But speaking of food as a "right" is a classical example of a tactical definition: seizing a word for rhetorical advantage, against its historic usage and meaning.

If by "right" we mean something given by God to man that is intrinsic to our humanity then "food" by definition cannot be a right. It is necessary for our continued life, but to produce food we require land, labor, etc. Food is not intrinsic to us, and therefore is not a "right."

Moreover, if it were a "right," this would mean that anyone may, by law and with the full force of justice, demand that others produce food for his own consumption. This is dangerous not only to property rights, but also to the very idea of charity. What is the merit in giving out of necessity, as opposed to a free gift of love?

Again, I love Pope Benedict. I'm entering RCIA, so I'm somewhat new to Catholicism, but he's a gifted theologian and pastor for the Church. But this statement still pains me.