As Protestant Churches – which have been involved for decades in the conciliar process launched by the 1983 Ecumenical Assembly in Vancouver (World Council of Churches/CEC) and named “Peace, justice, care for creation” – we are happy today to sign this Milan Charter which is the fruit of the collective work of 42 tables on various themes connected with food and with the realities of our planet. For the last forty years, the agenda of the Ecumenical World Council of Churches (CEC), based in Geneva, and that of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI), have born witness to this commitment. I remind you of the important collective text published by the FCEI, prepared by its “Globalization and Environment” commission in 2005, called “Food, between Excess and Penury”… a text expressing the position of Protestant churches in these issues. For now I would like to share some brief considerations.
Firstly, I’d like to point out that today’s occasion is precious to us as representatives of various religious entities here in Milan who before this signing have already met and discussed these issues on two previous occasions. Our signatures are not a formality, they are charged with awareness.
The analysis of the global situation contained in the Milan Charter makes it clear that its aim – of “achieving sure equitable access to food for everyone” – is still a long way from being reached. Reducing the distance which still prevents full realization of the goal of “equal access to natural resources and ensuring the sustainable organization of production processes”… this is a task which we can undertake together, starting within our own religious contexts, by introducing lifestyles in harmony with the goals of justice and sharing which we subscribe to today.
Another vital issue is the relationship between faith and social responsibility. Taking care of the creation of which as humans we are a living and responsible part, safeguarding human lives and sharing resources in a fair way… these are questions which involve the whole living planet and the human race. The latter, in too many parts of the world, lives in terrible suffering and is prevented, often violently, from living its live with dignity. As a prime priority derived from our evangelical faith, we are determined to fight against every injustice which justifies and prolongs planetary inequalities concerning adequate access to food and water for every human being.
God’s gifts are entrusted to us so that everyone may enjoy them, without transforming them into exclusively private property unaccountable to any collectivity, otherwise we end up with humanitarian tragedies. Greed eats away respect for the limits that God has set for us since the creation of the world. Nourishment is also a spiritual matter about which we must continue to reflect, starting with the tension which innervates our society, between excess and penury, egoism and sharing. We also need to rethink our levels of meat consumption, the excess of stock rearing processes, often involving cruelty to animals and based on massive consumption of water, air and cereals which could otherwise be used for human consumption.
The future of mankind begins at the table, the shared table which God invites us to without excluding anyone. Welcoming others and sharing what we have with them so that everyone has at least enough to live on, is the defining concrete result of our faith in Jesus Christ, who gave his life for us all. No longer «mors tua et vita mea» but rather «mors mea et vita tua».
This is the horizon of hope and solidarity which inspires us. We commit ourselves to work, regardless of creed and belief, for the unity of humanity within its diversity, where every person has enough to live on and to nourish themselves both spiritually and materially.