According to the Vatican’s Foreign Ministry, a meeting of world religious leaders to take an unified stance on the environment will “boost ambitions” for what can be accomplished at the United Nations Climate Change Conference next month.
The Vatican, the United Kingdom, and Italy are hosting a day-long gathering on Monday that will bring together approximately 40 spiritual leaders and scientists from over 20 nations.
The leaders, including Pope Francis, will sign an united petition and present it to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Alok Sharma, the president of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow.
“It is our hope that (the Monday meeting) will give an impact to opinion in general but within our faith groups and faith families and also within the political community to raise ambitions with regards to what can be achieved by COP26,” said Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
Speaking in a telephone interview with Reuters on Sunday, Gallagher said the Vatican hoped the direct appeal to COP26 leaders would have the same effect as the pope’s landmark 2015 environmental encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praised Be).
It drew massive attention to climate crisis and spurred activism by faith groups.
“Most of the religions represented, whether it’s through their sacred scriptures or their traditions or the spirituality that they represent, have the basis for a renewal of our relationship with the environment and with the planet,” Gallagher said.
The gathering is dubbed “Towards a Better Understanding of Faith and Science
COP26”. It brings together representatives of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and Jainism, as well as representatives of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and Jainism.
Last month, the pope, Welby, and Bartholomew made an united plea to people of their Churches to “listen to the earth’s scream.”
POPE EXPECTED TO ATTEND COP26 OPENING
The bishops of Scotland said in July that, health allowing, the Pope will attend the inauguration of COP26. In the next days, a decision is likely.
Francis is a staunch supporter of the 2015 United Nations Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to mitigate global warming. He warned young people over the weekend that they were “perhaps the final generation” to rescue the world.
Gallagher, who is British, described US President Joe Biden’s return to the Paris Accords following his predecessor Donald Trump’s withdrawal as “a symbol of tremendous optimism.” In the end of October, Biden and the Pope are set to meet at the Vatican.
“Translating commitment into action is the great problem and we all know that our political leaders are very good at promising and very good at talking but the action that we need now is urgent and it is enormous,” he said.
He said the Vatican hoped Monday’s conference would underscore the need for “an ecological conversion in the way we relate to the planet”, and the realization that lifestyle changes would be necessary but not easy.
“Most aspects of life have a political dimension and if you are going to say that faith should also be part of every part of your life then obviously your faith is going to affect your politics,” Gallagher said.
He said organizers did not consider inviting the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet’s Buddhists, who is not recognized by China.
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama knows how well he is respected here by the Holy See but he also appreciates that our relations (with China) are complicated and difficult and he has always respected that and we appreciate that very much and so the dialogue goes on with Buddhism on many, many levels,” he said.