Members of the Indigenous Tzotzil community pray toward the sun during sunrise in Chiapas, Mexico, Jan. 30, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pope Francis has sent a message to the global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum. CNS photo/Isabel Mateos, Reuters
Members of the Indigenous Tzotzil community pray toward the sun during sunrise in Chiapas, Mexico, Jan. 30, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pope Francis has sent a message to the global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum. CNS photo/Isabel Mateos, Reuters
VATICAN CITY – Combating hunger will require humility, protecting the environment and promoting social justice, Pope Francis said.

"Let us pay attention to what benefits everyone" so that hunger is alleviated and the next generation can be left with a world that is a "treasure" and not a wasteland, he said in a message released Feb. 2.

The pope's message was addressed to those taking part in the Fifth Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum, sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD. The meeting was being held online Feb. 2-4 and again Feb. 15 and was focusing on "the value of indigenous food systems: resilience in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Msgr. Fernando Chica Arellano, the Vatican's permanent observer to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Program, read the Pope's message in Spanish to participants, saying the pope was praying for everyone and for a productive gathering.

Pope Francis said globalization cannot be about uniformity, which ignores diversity and "imposes a new kind of colonialism."

The challenge will be in creating alternatives in a spirit of solidarity "so that no one feels ignored" and no one intimidatingly imposes their own approach, "considering it to be the only one that is correct."

"On the contrary, we know well that, when diversities are articulated and mutually enriching, communion between peoples flourishes and is enlivened," he said.

It is about promoting a form of development that does not place "consumption as a means and an end, but that truly looks after the environment, listens, learns and dignifies," he said.

"This is integral ecology, in which social justice goes hand in hand with the protection of the planet."

Only with this "humility of spirit" will the world be able to see the "total defeat of hunger and achieve a society based on enduring values, which are not the result of fleeting and biased trends, but of justice and goodness," the Pope said in his message.

The Pope said he hoped the gathering would lead to productive results and reflect a love for a world "that we want to build together and that we wish to leave to those who come after us as a treasure and not as a heap of waste and ruin."

The Pope said he was praying for those who are working to help people living in disadvantaged areas of the world, "but are graced by the beauty that comes from respecting and living together with nature, a work that emerged from the hands of the Lord."