Pope Francis and religious leaders jointly urge nations to care for creation
VATICAN CITY – High-level representatives of the world’s religions gathered with Pope Francis at the Vatican to show their shared commitment to caring for the Earth and to call on world leaders to deepen their commitments to mitigate climate change.
With the accents of Antonio Vivaldi’s “four seasons” and surrounded by pots of greenery and colorful frescoes in the Hall of Blessings, nearly 40 religious leaders signed a joint appeal that Pope Francis then blessed and gave to Alok Sharma, president-designate of COP26. , and Luigi Di Maio, Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“Future generations will never forgive us if we miss the opportunity to protect our common home. We have inherited a garden: we must not leave a desert to our children ”, said the appeal, signed on October 4, on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology.
The call urged world leaders, who will meet at the 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change – COP26 – in Glasgow from November 1-12, “to take swift, responsible and shared action to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity and the house entrusted to our management.
Participants included top scientists and major religious leaders, including: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople; Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, England; Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, representing Patriarch Kirill of Moscow; Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar; Rabbi Noam Marans of the International Jewish Committee for Interfaith Consultations; and the main representatives of other Christian denominations, Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism.
The call called on nations to: increase their levels of international engagement and cooperation; achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible as part of efforts to mitigate the rise in global average temperatures; step up climate action at the national level and provide financial assistance to the most vulnerable countries to adapt and fight against climate change; increase their transition to cleaner energy and sustainable land use practices; and promote food systems that respect the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
Religious leaders symbolically marked their personal commitment by pouring a cup of soil over a potted olive tree to be planted in the Vatican Gardens.
Representatives spoke with brief speeches, many of which detailed what their religious tradition teaches about the moral imperative of caring for the common home of humanity. Saying that he wanted to allow more time to hear from everyone, Pope Francis chose not to read his speech aloud since everyone had a written copy.
In the full text, the Pope declared that COP26 “represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are currently experiencing, and thus offer concrete hope to future generations”.
He proposed “three concepts” to guide their joint efforts: “openness to interdependence and sharing; the dynamism of love; and the call for respect.
“Recognizing that the world is interconnected means not only becoming aware of the harmful effects of our actions, but also identifying the behaviors and solutions to be adopted, in an attitude of openness to interdependence” and sharing the responsibility and ways of caring for others and the environment, he wrote.