For weeks there has been speculation about whether the Pope will travel to the COP26 climate summit. Now he is likely to stay in Rome. But what he has to say, he’s been advertising for years. And he recently repeated it with representatives of all world religions.
Does Francis go to Glasgow or not? Since it was officially announced that the Vatican delegation to attend the conference from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow will be headed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s Secretary of State, Francis appears to be staying in Rome.
It would be a strong diplomatic signal if the president of 1.3 billion Catholics attended in person at the 26th Conference of Member States of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26). But what Francis said about climate change, has been known for years.
Bartholomaios und al-Tayyeb
He also drew his inspiration from the honorary head of the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who advocated the preservation of creation for 30 years. And so the “green patriarch” stood by Francis when, on October 4, he presented to the president-elect of COP 26, Alok Sharma, a common appeal and commitment from all the world’s religions.
On the other side of Francis, his most important interfaith companion, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb. The head of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Joachim von Braun, said at a ceremony in the Vatican that science has long been in agreement on climate change. “As of today, one can say: Religions are also unanimous on this question.”
The forty religious representatives drafted an appeal and a self-commitment after consulting with scholars for several months. It stated: “We are guardians of the natural environment with a call to preserve it for future generations and a moral obligation to participate in healing the planet. We must deal with these challenges with the knowledge of science and the wisdom of religion.”
One of the appeal’s demands is the fastest net CO2 emissions to reach zero. Rich countries will have to become more involved – with stricter measures and financial aid for other countries. There is still a need for international cooperation for clean energy, sustainable land use, and responsible financing. For their part, according to the representatives of the religions, they wanted to strengthen their own climate protection measures and to promote appropriate knowledge and commitment among their adherents.
Unity of religious communities
The signatories were high-ranking representatives of all denominations of Christianity, Sunni Islam, Shi’a Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and Jainism. Shortly before that, Bartholomew I and Francis and Emeritus of Anglicans, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, published a joint appeal on climate.
Since his publication of the Environmental and Social publication “Laudato si” from May 2015, Francis has been considered one of the world’s most important speakers for further climate protection. Rarely has any other papal document received such a positive response, especially outside the Church. When French Environment Minister Segolene Royal learned in early 2015 that the Pope was working on an environmental periodical, she urged him to publish it before the Paris climate conference. Which he did.
Advocate for the aggrieved people
Francis understands his commitment not primarily as an environmentalist, but as an advocate for people affected and God’s mandate for people to preserve creation. The Vatican repeatedly presents itself as a meeting place between politics, science and business on the topic of climate change. The Sunni Catholic document “On the Brothers of All People” issued in February 2019 also outlined the commitment to the common home of the mission of Christian and Muslim believers.
In order to maintain these concerns, the Vatican initiated “Laudato si” five years after the encyclical. One of the activities, which has been scaled back somewhat due to the pandemic, was an international meeting of young entrepreneurs on environmentally and socially sustainable business models and ideas.
The Pope recently delivered the October 4th appeal to a group of parliamentarians from the G20 countries. It cannot therefore be excluded that he will at least once again address the COP26 participants with a video tape during the Climate Summit. (CIC)
© Catholic Media Centre, October 24, 2021
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