Ecumenical Patriarch, Pope and Father of Canterbury call for climate | community, church, world
ROME – The world’s top Christian leaders – Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians – on Tuesday issued a joint appeal to delegates of the upcoming United Nations 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 offered political leaders an unprecedented opportunity to rethink the global economy and make it more sustainable and socially just for the poor.
“We have to decide what kind of world we want to leave for future generations,” said the statement by Francis, Archbishop Justin Welby of the Anglican Communion and Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
But in the statement, they also noted that the threat is no longer far.
“The extreme weather conditions and natural disasters of the past few months have once again revealed to us with great force and at a high human cost that climate change is not just a future challenge, but a matter of immediate and urgent survival,” they declared.
The statement was intended to give a sense of urgency to the upcoming UN 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.
“This is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to jointly address the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty and the importance of global cooperation,” they wrote.
Individuals have a role to play, but leaders have the greatest responsibility for making courageous decisions in Glasgow, the statement said.
“We say: choose people-centered profits; make short-term sacrifices to protect all of our futures; become leaders in the transition to just and sustainable economies. “
The statement was dated September 1, when their churches celebrate World Creation Care Day. There was no official explanation for why it was released a week late, although the Vatican was essentially closed in August, suggesting that the summer vacation could be to blame.
While the joint declaration was a first, François frequently cited Barthélémy’s teachings on the environment, including in his flagship environmental encyclical of 2015, “Praised Be”. Welby, a former oil executive, has spoken out on the moral crisis of climate change, though his Church of England has refused to completely divest itself from carbon-intensive companies, arguing it can force larger change to the fossil fuel industry as a shareholder.