Former Vice-President Al Gore said Pope Francis “has been at the forefront in leading the world toward constructive climate action.”

Speaking to Vatican News – the official news service of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication – Gore said he was “grateful for and in awe of the clarity of the moral force [the pope] embodies.”

Gore served as Bill Clinton’s vice president from 1993-2001. Since leaving office, he has dedicated himself to environmental causes. His film on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2006. Gore was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace prize jointly with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Gore said that Francis’s leadership “has been an inspiration to all of us across the world, particularly when it comes to his strong and repeated emphasis on solving the climate crisis.”

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“He also speaks in the most powerful way about the most vulnerable among us — the poor — and helps all who listen to understand how they are uniquely affected by the climate crisis. In particular, his papal encyclical, Laudato si’, marked a crucial step for the Catholic Church in leading the world to commit to addressing the climate crisis ahead of the Paris Agreement,” said the former vice president.

Laudato si’: On Care For Our Common Home was published in May 2015, six months ahead of the Paris climate summit, and calls climate change “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

Noting that “spiritual teaching obviously plays a crucial role in communities around the world,” Gore said Francis is a model for leaders of other faith traditions to communicate the dangers posed by the climate crisis and our duty as stewards of God’s creation to solve it.

“I believe that the purpose of life is to glorify God — and if we heap contempt and destruction on God’s creation, that is grotesquely inconsistent with the way we are supposed to be living our lives,” said Gore, who is a Baptist.

“Moreover, the climate crisis is now the biggest existential challenge humanity has ever faced. And it is not only humanity that is at risk; according to the world’s biologists, up to half of all the living species with which we share this Earth are in danger of extinction during this century. When Noah was instructed to gather two of every species in his ark in order to ‘keep them alive with thee,’ I believe that instruction is also meant for us,” he said.

“Virtually all of my Catholic colleagues and friends are thrilled to the marrow of their bones that he is providing this kind of spiritual leadership. As am I.”

Gore also spoke to Vatican News about Francis’s June 9 meeting with oil executives, in which the pope challenged them to transition to less-polluting energy sources.

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“Pope Francis’s conference at the Vatican with oil company executives is an extremely encouraging sign that this transition to a sustainable future may quickly becoming a reality rather than a dream,” he said. “But, we need to move even faster to ensure this transition occurs in time to prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis.”

This is not the first time the former vice president has praised the current pontiff: In a 2017 CNN interview, he said “because of Pope Francis, I really could become a Catholic.”