Warning global leaders that time is running out to address climate change, Pope Francis urged them on Friday to “take radical decisions” that would “provide effective responses to the present ecological crisis” when they gather at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow next week.
In a message recorded for “Thought of the Day,” a morning reflection broadcast daily on BBC Radio 4, Francis said that only urgent action could “offer concrete hope to future generations.”
The Vatican said this month that the pope would not attend the summit, known as COP26, even though Francis had said last month that he wanted to be present in Glasgow. Instead, the delegation will be headed by the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
From the outset of his papacy, which is now in its eighth year, Francis made clear that environmental issues would be a priority. He has noted that poor people suffer most as a result of an “ecological crisis” brought about by economic models, industrial systems, and policies that are detrimental to the environment.
In 2015, Francis issued “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home,” the first papal encyclical focused solely on the environment. A global call to better care for the planet, it was sweeping in ambition and scope.
In his message for the BBC, Francis made a reference to a joint appeal signed at the Vatican on Oct. 4 by religious leaders and scientists that urged Cop26 participants “to take speedy, responsible and shared action to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship.”
That effort, he said on Friday, requires “the need to work tirelessly to eliminate ‘the seeds of conflicts: greed, indifference, ignorance, fear, injustice, insecurity and violence.’”
“Humanity has never before had at its disposal so many means for achieving this goal,” Francis said. “And it is worth repeating that each of us, whoever and wherever we may be, can play our own part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and the degradation of our common home.”