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Vatican to host ‘Faith and Science’ talks to raise stakes ahead of UN climate summit

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher stressed that faith has a role to play in looking for solutions to the challenges presented by climate change

The Vatican will host a major gathering of world religious leaders and scientists ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Britain to take a common stand at “a key moment in the history of humanity.”

The October 4 conference, called “Faith and Science: Towards COP26,” is being organized by Britain and Italy. It will bring together some 40 leaders from the world’s major religions and 10 scientists and issue a joint appeal for COP26.

In a media briefing on Thursday, June 17, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, said Pope Francis will likely participate in the October event.

He said the pope has been very committed to the issue of climate change and that he would be “very surprised if the Holy Father does not participate.” The Vatican will confirm Pope Francis’ participation in the coming days.

Archbishop Gallagher stressed that faith has a role to play in looking for solutions to the challenges presented by climate change.

“You’ve got to draw on all of your resources if we’re going to rise to these challenges,” he said, adding that faith, religion, and the spiritual dimension of humanity are also very important.

“If we ignore that and think that the only solution is good politics or good science then we’re going to find that we’re not successful,” said the archbishop.

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“Religion is a sort of integrated vision of life, the world, and everything in it. Religion embraces all the issues that affect our human existence,” said Archbishop Gallagher.

He said the sense of urgency has grown about the need to confront climate change, saying that the pandemic has shown how various economic, social, and alimentary crises affect all people on the planet.

Last year the Church in Bangladesh launched a tree-planting drive as part of its response to Pope Francis’ Laudato si’ encyclical. (RVA photo)

Archbishop Gallagher said religious leaders should press their politicians to make courageous, ambitious decisions at the UN conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

“The contribution that we hope that religious leaders will make through the conference on October 4 and in the coming months will be to raise the ambition of our political leaders,” said the archbishop.

He said the religious leaders should urge “our statesmen and women to be able to grasp the nettle, see the issues and make courageous decisions.”

“COP26 will perhaps be a key moment in the history of humanity,” said Bishop Gallagher.

“There will be difficult choices to be made and we hope that with God’s grace, that we will have the courage to make those choices and to move forward on these issues which will determine what life will be like on our planet in the coming decades and centuries,” he said.

Pope Francis strongly supports the goals of the 2015 UN Paris accord to reduce global warming. In 2015, he released the encyclical on the environment Laudato si’ on the need to protect the environment, reduce wasteful lifestyles, stem global warming and protect the poor from the effects of climate change. – with a report from Reuters

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