Your Eminence, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I cordially greet all of you for your presence at this meeting focusing on “The Catholic Church and climate change”.
We all know that in his recent Encyclical Laudato si’, Pope Francis states that «the climate is a common good» (n. 23) and that «climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades» (n. 24).
These reflections recall the responsibility that each of us has towards the environment, towards our fellow men and women, towards ourselves and towards the Creator. Responsibility in our daily life and also responsibility in our common and collective efforts within our communities, from the family, which is the basic cell of society, to the international community. This is obviously a great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge.
In about two months, at the COP-21 in Paris, the international community has an important opportunity to show its real capabilities to implement this collective responsibility. It is a common but differentiated responsibility, according to each country’s respective capabilities and social and economic conditions, but it is also a responsibility based on the importance of achieving two inter-related goals: eradicating poverty and easing the effects of climate change. In Laudato si’, Pope Francis mentioned the “ecological debt” (n. 51), calling on those responsible for this debt to take the lead «by limiting in a significant way the consumption of non-renewable energy; by providing resources to countries in need for the promotion of policies and programmes for sustainable development; by adopting appropriate systems for the management of forests, transportation, waste; by seriously addressing the grave problem of food waste; by favouring a model of a circular economy; by encouraging new attitudes and lifestyles», as the Holy Father mentioned to the Environment Minister of European Union 10 days ago, on 16 September.
The Holy See and the Catholic Church are participating actively in the COP-21 process, trying to put at the basis of this process some basic concepts, that can operate and are operating as engine and push: the ethical imperative to act urgently, the need to launch a new model of development and lifestyle, particular attention to be given to the most vulnerable countries and to future generations, the importance of achieving a fair and effective agreement involving all States, according to the aforementioned nature of responsibility, the need to encourage the promotion of education in ecological responsibility, inspired by the vision rooted in the integral ecology which is the subject of the Encyclical Laudato si’.
I am hopeful that this Conference, as well as other similar important meetings on the same subject, can contribute to a deeper understanding of these concepts and to embedding them in the COP-21 process.