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Seeking a soul mate in the struggle against climate change

VATICAN (CNS): Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations (UN) and some climate scientists are banking on Pope Francis to be a unifying moral force to get the world on board in the fight against global warming.

Ban spoke at the Vatican on April 28 during an international gathering on the moral dimensions of climate change and sustainable development sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Religions for Peace.

He told reporters, “The reason I’m coming to the pope” is that “I need the moral support and spiritual support of religious leaders.”

While previous popes have spoken strongly against harming the earth and its inhabitants, one world-renowned atmospheric scientist, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, said Pope Francis will “save the day.”

He noted that Pope Benedict XVI, who has been lauded as the green pope for his attention to taking care of creation, “made some amazingly helpful statements on the environment” during his eight-year pontificate. 

However, Ramanathan, who in the 1970s helped discover that pollutants and other gases, in addition to carbon dioxide, were contributing to the greenhouse effect, said that Pope Francis would be “the saviour on the environment.” 

In his opinion this pope “has transcended Catholic religion and he’s transcended Christianity. People of different followings, different nations admire this pope, they listen to his words so he has a global reach.”

Ban has been hoping to tap into that global reach with his invitation to Pope Francis to address the UN General Assembly in New York, on September 25 and by calling on religious leaders to work with governments and science on climate change.

The UN secretary general along with experts promoting a united global response to global warming believe policies, regulations, new technologies and cost incentives are not going to be enough to get industrialised nations to radically reduce their carbon footprint.

Ramanathan, who attended the Vatican gathering as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, said, “We have to change our attitude toward each other and our attitude toward nature. So it has gone beyond the grasp of science and beyond the grasp of leaders of nations. It is now in the hands of religious leaders.” 

Ban also pointed out that change will depend on wealthy nations and communities shifting away from an economy based on overconsumption and exclusion. 

“To transform our economies, however, we must first transform our thinking and our values,” he said.


The message is one that the Catholic Church has been proclaiming for decades......