ROME — The world’s top Christian leaders — Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians — on Tuesday issued a joint appeal for delegates at the upcoming climate summit to “listen to the cry of the Earth” and make sacrifices to save the planet.
In their first-ever joint statement, the three Christian clerics said the coronavirus pandemic gave political leaders an unprecedented opportunity to rethink the global economy and make it more sustainable and socially just for the poor.
“We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations,” they said. But in the statement, they also noted that the threat is no longer far off.
“The extreme weather and natural disasters of recent months reveal afresh to us with great force and at great human cost that climate change is not only a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent matter of survival,” said the statement from Francis, Archbishop Justin Welby of the Anglican Communion and the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
The statement sought to give a sense of urgency to the upcoming U.N. climate summit, which Francis at least is expected to attend in person. The conference, known as COP26, is scheduled for early November in Glasgow, Scotland.
The statement was dated Sept. 1, when the Vatican celebrates the world day for the care of creation. The Vatican didn’t immediately respond when asked why the statement was released nearly a week late.
While the joint statement was a first, Francis has frequently cited Bartholomew’s teachings on the environment, including in his landmark 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato Si’.