"It is a great honour to express in person my gratitude to His Holiness for his invaluable support in favour of the world's hungry," said Sheeran, who has been at the helm of the world's largest humanitarian organisation since April.
"I hope that the already excellent collaborative work with the Catholic Church which, like WFP, is an institution with truly global reach, can be strengthened further."
WFP works with a number of Catholic organisations, including Caritas Internationalis which, through its network of over 40 member organisations such as Catholic Relief Services, distributed 85,000 tonnes of food in 2006.
WFP also has partnerships with the Jesuit Refugee Service in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa and in Colombia, the Community of St. Egidio, and with many other Catholic-inspired NGOs, including the German Malteser Hilfsdienst, which works with WFP in Sudan and Myanmar.
"In crisis and conflict areas around the world - like in Darfur, Somalia, Chad, the Occupied Palestinian territories - WFP staff often work in dramatic situations where their own safety may be at risk, to help those who are most vulnerable. The moral authority of the Holy Father and his appeals for peace, justice and security are highly encouraging for us. We know we can always count on the partnership and precious help of Catholics and Catholic organisations," said Sheeran.
During the war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006, the Vatican donated two ambulances to the Lebanese chapter of Caritas. The vehicles were sent to Beirut through the WFP-managed humanitarian response depot (UNHRD) in Brindisi.
Today's meeting with Pope Benedict XVI was also an opportunity for Sheeran to thank the Holy Father for mentioning, during his pastoral visit to Brazil, the WFP and the "Walk the World" march against hunger on 13 May.
This event is organised every year by WFP, TNT and other private partners to build global commitment to fulfilling the first Millennium Development Goal.
This is the second year in a row that the Pope has referred to the event.
During the audience, the Executive Director invited His Holiness to visit WFP's headquarters in Rome.
After the meeting, Sheeran met with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States.