Pope Francis denounced consumerism in his weekly address in St. Peter’s Square Wednesday, calling it a "culture of waste" in relation to modern economies, particularly when it comes to food consumption.
"Throwing away food is like stealing from the table of those who are poor and hungry,” the Pope told his audience in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
Pope Francis' statement coincided with the United Nations launch of an anti-food waste campaign on the same day as part of World Environment Day.
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"Our grandparents used to make a point of not throwing away leftover food," the Pontiff added. "Consumerism has made us accustomed to wasting food daily and we are unable to see its real value."
According to the United Nations, more than 1.4 billion tons of food, approximately a third of what is produced for human consumption, is wasted or lost each year.
Since being selected to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in March, Pope Francis has been a tireless advocate for the poor
, encouraging those with wealth to live with greater austerity, while having made several calls for global financial reform, Reuters notes.
On Wednesday, the U.N. released a study that found that by reducing oversized portions and improved storage of food products, the amount of wasted food would be significantly reduced.
Additionally, according to a report by the World Resources Institute and the U.N. Environment Program, in the United States, restaurant patrons discard more than nine percent of each purchased meal in part due to the size of the meal.
More than 870 million people around the world are affected by hunger, while approximately two billion suffer from at least one nutritional deficiency, the U.N. reports.
Considering the amount of waste and how many people worldwide suffer from hunger on a daily basis, the Pope added: "In this way people are discarded as if they were garbage."
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In his address, the Argentinian-born pontiff continued a theme of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, warning his flock of the dangers of materialism.
Pope Francis cautioned that focusing too much on money and materialism will result in financial market downturns being viewed as tragedies while human suffering becoming the norm and ignored by most.
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