Expressing his sincere regret for his inability to attend the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, Pope Francis reiterated his belief that the choices we make in the present shape the future for all of humanity.
The current UN Summit follows a year marked by unprecedented heat and drought, addressing a range of contentious issues as nations seek common ground in combating climate change.
In a poignant message delivered by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin on behalf of the Pope, it was emphasized that environmental destruction is not only a personal sin but also a structural offense against God, posing a grave threat to all, especially the most vulnerable.
Pope Francis stressed that climate change is a global social issue intimately tied to the dignity of human life. He posed a crucial question: Are we fostering a culture of life or one of death? Urging a choice for life and a commitment to addressing the climate crisis, he attributed its roots to the excessive heating of the planet caused by unsustainable human activities and escalating levels of greenhouse gases.
Highlighting the urgent need for humility and courage in recognizing our limits, the Pope identified existing divisions as a significant obstacle to necessary changes. He called for a collective focus on the future, emphasizing the responsibility to ensure that future generations are not denied their rightful future.
Rejecting attempts to blame the poor and high birth rates for environmental issues, Pope Francis pointed out the disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. He argued against penalizing economically burdened countries and instead advocated for a reconsideration of the ecological debt owed by wealthier nations, emphasizing a comprehensive and equitable approach to global issues.
“May this COP prove to be a turning point, demonstrating a clear and tangible political will that can lead to a decisive acceleration of ecological transition” with efficient, obligatory, and readily monitored measures in the sectors of energy efficiency, renewable sources, elimination of fossil fuels, and education in sustainable lifestyles,” said the Pope.
Emphasizing the interconnectedness of environmental and peace concerns, the Pope deplored the wasteful expenditure on wars and proposed redirecting those resources to establish a global fund for ending hunger, supporting sustainable development, and combating climate change.
Calling for political change aligned with the signs of climate change, Pope Francis urged a departure from narrow self-interest and nationalism, endorsing an alternative vision fostering ecological conversion. He assured the commitment of the Catholic Church in promoting education, participation, and responsible lifestyles.
In a plea for tangible political will and decisive action, Pope Francis urged leaders not to postpone addressing the urgent needs of the environment. He reminded them that the purpose of power is to serve, cautioning against clinging to authority that fails to act when necessary.
Concluding with hope for a breakthrough in 2024, Pope Francis drew inspiration from the transformative experience of Saint Francis of Assisi, urging leaders to unite forces, leaving behind divisions for a shared future free from the darkness of wars and environmental devastation.