In a speech to the global body's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, Francis said love rather than pity should be placed at the heart of international development efforts, and threw his weight behind efforts in the UN to negotiate a global accord on managed, safe migration.
"Is it too much to ask to think of inserting the concept of love into the language of international cooperation," Francis said in a speech that was greeted with a standing ovation.
"We cannot limit ourselves to pity, because pity stops with emergency aid while love inspires justice and is essential to create a just social order," Francis said.
Ensuring everyone's right to food and nourishment is an imperative we cannot ignore. It is a right to which there are no exceptions!— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 16, 2017
Francis cited the Paris climate change accord as an example of what could be achieved if governments worked together, while bemoaning that some were now "distancing themselves from it" – an apparent swipe at US President Donald Trump.
Before his speech, Francis unveiled a new statue of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy who became a symbol of the refugee crisis created by his country's civil war after his corpse washed up a Turkish beach in 2015.
The statue, by Italian sculptor Luigi Prevedel, was a gift from the Argentinian pontiff to the FAO.
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP.
In his speech, Francis said governments had to address the roots of migratory pressures and accept they were irresistible.
"How do you stop people who are ready to risk everything, entire generations that can disappear for lack of their daily bread, or because they are the victims of violence or climate change?
"They go where they see light, or sense a hope of life. They cannot be stopped by physical, economic, legal or ideological barriers: only a coherent application of the principle of humanity can do that.
"The organisation of human mobility demands coordinated and systematic intergovernmental action, based on existing international norms and permeated with love and intelligence."