VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) – The Vatican will host a major gathering of world religious leaders and scientists ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Britain to take a common stand at “a key moment in the history of humanity”.
At a news conference on Thursday presenting the Oct 4 event, the Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, said religious leaders should press their politicians to make courageous, ambitious decisions at the United Nations conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
“The contribution that we hope that religious leaders will make through the conference on Oct 4 and in the coming months will be to raise the ambition of our political leaders,” Gallagher said.
He said the religious leaders should urge “our statesmen and women to be able to grasp the nettle, see the issues and make courageous decisions”.
Archbishop Gallagher, who is British, said he expected Pope Francis to participate in the October 4 meeting taking place at the Vatican and in Rome.
Pope Francis has been invited to participate at the COP26 in Glasgow, but Gallagher would not be drawn on whether the pope will go. Other Vatican officials have indicated that he most likely would.
“COP26 will perhaps be a key moment in the history of humanity,” Gallagher said.
“There will be difficult choices to be made and we hope that with God’s grace, that we will have the courage to make those choices and to move forward on these issues which will determine what life will be like on our planet in the coming decades and centuries,” he said.
Pope Francis strongly supports the goals of the 2015 UN Paris accord to reduce global warming. In 2015, he wrote an encyclical on the need to protect the environment, reduce wasteful lifestyles, stem global warming and protect the poor from the effects of climate change.