Ensure “no one dies from lack of basic food”: Catholic Bishops in Africa to Governments

Members of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). Credit: Vatican Media

Catholic Bishops in Africa have, in a message ahead the Solemnity of Pentecost, urged governments and humanitarian organizations to take necessary measures to ensure that “no one dies from lack of basic food.”

In their message shared with ACI Africa Thursday, June 2, the leadership of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) says, “The year 2022 is marked by unprecedented scale of hunger across the world, due to the effects of the COVID19 pandemic, climate change, prolonged wars and in particular the war in Ukraine.”

“According to the conclusions of the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) 2022, in 2021 some 193 million people were severely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance in 53 countries/territories and the outlook for global acute food insecurity in 2022 is projected to deteriorate further compared to 2021. And most of these famine-stricken countries are in Africa,” Catholic Bishops in Africa say.

In the statement signed by the President of SECAM, Phillip Cardinal Ouédraogo, the Bishops appeal to African governments and humanitarian organizations operating in Africa “to do everything possible to ensure that no one dies from lack of basic food.”

“We also encourage the development of effective policies and programs that value local food production and combat food waste, protect agricultural land and ensure its access to the peasant population,” they further say in the two-page statement circulated ahead of Pentecost Sunday, June 5.


Catholic Bishops in Africa advocate for “effective policies and programs” that foster long-term solutions, going beyond food aid. They say, “Food aid should be seen as a temporary solution and with the purpose of allowing a given population to survive in a crisis situation.”

“This calls for respect for social justice and the practice of solidarity, which prevents the monopolization of financial means by the richest, and promotes the inclusion of every man and woman in the society, as well as their fundamental dignity,” they say.

In the message shared with ACI Africa June 2, SECAM leadership makes reference to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that has reported about levels of extreme food insecurity in Africa having “almost quadrupled between 2019 and 2022”.

According to FAO, Catholic Bishops in Africa say, over 281 million people were “exposed to hunger in 2021”.

They say, “By sharing our bread with those who are hungry, we witness to God's will to satisfy the hunger of the world and we allow God to meet the needy through our gestures of sharing and generosity.” 

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“Generosity, sharing and solidarity do not impoverish, but are generators of life, and life in abundance,” officials of SECAM say in their message of Pentecost Sunday, June 5. 

“It is therefore our mission as disciples of Jesus today to fight against human hunger and to do everything in our power to give back life and hope to all those who live in misery, suffering, and despair,” they add.

Making reference to the celebration that commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem, SECAM officials explain the connection between Pentecost and the person of Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

They say, “Pentecost identifies us with Jesus, the Way, opening us to his mystery of salvation so that we may be his children and brothers and sisters to one another; it identifies us with Jesus, the Truth, teaching us to renounce our lies and personal ambitions; and it identifies us with Jesus, the Life, enabling us to embrace his plan of love and give ourselves so that others may have life in him.”

“Therefore, we, the disciples of Jesus today, are invited to break the logic of the selfish hoarding of goods and learn to share with others. Indeed, goods are a gift from God for all people and they belong to everyone,” SECAM leadership says.


Making reference to the Second Vatican Council, Catholic Bishops in Africa say, “God has destined the earth and all that it contains for the use of all men and peoples, so that created goods should come equally into the hands of all, according to justice, backed by charity.”

“Pentecost is also the feast of peace. It was along with the breath of the Holy Spirit that Jesus said: Peace be with you,” the leadership of SECAM says, and continues, “We pray for peace in the world and especially on our continent.”

“May the Spirit of Pentecost make us all understand (governors, governed and the perpetrators of war) that the construction of social peace in a country is never finished, but is a task that does not provide a truce and requires the commitment of all,” Catholic Bishops in Africa say in their message shared with ACI Africa June 2.

May all people in Africa, they add, “be instruments of peace and work for peace.”

“Renewed by the Spirit of Jesus on this Pentecost, let us go on mission, continuing God's project realized in Jesus: the project of liberation, which eliminates oppression and establishes a world of free men and women, saved from selfishness and capable of loving and sharing,” officials of the Accra-headquartered Catholic entity say.

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They implore, “May Our Lady, Queen of Africa, intercede for us and may the Lord grant us days of plenty and peace.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.