Pope calls for ‘radical decisions’ ahead of major UN summit on climate change


ROME – Pope Francis is not going to Glasgow for the United Nations conference on climate change, but that has not dwindled his commitment to the cause, as shown with a five-minute message to the BBC calling for “radical decisions.”

“We find ourselves increasingly frail and even fearful, caught up in a succession of ‘crises’ in the areas of health care, the environment, food supplies and the economy, to say nothing of social, humanitarian and ethical crises,” Francis said in a pre-recorded message broadcast Friday on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.

These crises, he said, “are profoundly interconnected,” and forecast a “perfect storm” that could “rupture the bonds holding our society together within the greater gift of God’s creation.”

Speaking to the British people but also the world leaders who will gather in Glasgow next week for the COP26 Conference, the pontiff said that every crisis calls for vision, planning and rapid action. When it comes to rethinking the future of the world, he added, “radical decisions that are not always easy” need to be taken.

Every person, he said, regardless of how powerful they are, has the power and the responsibility to effect change.

Though Pope Francis doesn’t give a one-size-fits-all solution to the many crises afflicting the world in his message to the BBC, he did say that retreating into “isolationism, protectionism and exploitation” is not the right path, suggesting instead, seeing them as an opportunity for change, “a genuine moment of conversion, and not simply in a spiritual sense.”

Taking this approach, Francis acknowledge, presents an “immense cultural challenge,” prioritizing the common good, and recognizing the dignity of every human being, now and in the future.

A brighter future following the many crises of today, he said, can only “be pursued through a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world, and an effective solidarity based on justice, a sense of our common destiny and a recognition of the unity of our human family in God’s plan for the world.”

A change in direction, sustained by “our own faith and spirituality” is needed to preserve God’s creation and preventing it from becoming an “unlivable world” in the near future. Working responsibly towards a “culture of care” for the planet and for each person is needed, in order to eliminate “the seeds of conflicts: greed, indifference, ignorance, fear, injustice, insecurity and violence.”

In 2015, Pope Francis published his encyclical Laudato Si’, widely seen as his “environmental manifesto.” It was published a few months before world leaders met in Paris for the COP21, where an international agreement on policies to combat climate change, in the hope of influencing the discussions.

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma

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