Cardinal Parolin underlines Holy See's commitment to climate action

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin underlines the Holy See's and the Pope's commitment to address the climate crisis, on the sidelines of the Global Faith Summit on Climate Action in Abu Dhabi ahead of COP28.

By Christopher Wells - Abu Dhabi

Some thirty faith leaders representing the world’s major religious communities and traditions have signed an Interfaith Statement pledging their commitment to mobilize their communities to fight climate change, and calling on political leaders to take concrete action at next month’s COP28 Climate Change Conference.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, took part in the signing ceremony on Monday evening in Abu Dhabi.

The signing came at the conclusion of the first day of the Global Faith Summit, an interreligious gathering aimed at amplifying the voice of religious leaders and believers in response to the climate change crisis.

Following the ceremony, Cardinal Parolin spoke with Vatican News about the role faith leaders can play in addressing global issues like climate change, as well as the unique role of the Holy See in international diplomacy. 

Q: Can you tell us what is the role that faith leaders can play and what is seen by many as a more secular issue?

Cardinal Parolin: Yes, I think it is a secular issue, climate change. In fact, it is dealt with by the politicians and the world of politics, and the scientists, and so on.

But I think that the implication of the leaders, of the religious leaders, is due to the fact that it has also an ethical dimension, an ethical and moral dimension, which the Holy See is underlining very much.

And then I think that in this issue the religious leader has a voice to say something and to add motivation to the present commitment of the world to tackle this issue.

Cardinal Parolin poses for a picture with other faith leaders in Abu Dhabi
Cardinal Parolin poses for a picture with other faith leaders in Abu Dhabi

Q: Speaking specifically of the Holy See, the Holy See has a unique role among religions in that it has a diplomatic representation. It is present throughout the world. How do you see the unique role of the Pope and the Holy See in addressing issues like climate change?

You know that the Pope is very interested [in the issue of climate change], very, very much so.

And the evidence of that are the two documents he produced, Laudato si', which was really a reference point of many leaders of the world and of many governments at the time of the COP of Paris, when they signed the agreement about the climate changes; and now, Laudate Deum, which is a document trying to update the Laudato si'.

Of course, the Holy See is interested in all the aspects of the problem. The Holy See is speaking about the reduction of gas emissions, the problem of rising sea levels, and so on.

But our focus is especially on two things, on two particular issues: 

First of all is lifestyle.

It's not enough to throw more money [at the problem]. They need to [dedicate more resources] for mitigation and adaptation, of course. I am not saying that it's not important to put money into this issue, but it's not enough. We have to really change our way of living, so as not to harm Creation, not to harm nature, but to be stewards, as the Pope has said.

And this is the task entrusted by God to humanity when He created us.

And then to education.

This is another very important point, to educate the new generation, just to have, to use, in a different way, the resources of this world. And this is a universal, worldwide commitment of the Holy See. We took this up in signing also the Paris Agreement. It was precisely this point that was stressed by the Holy See.

Because we have also a part of our commitment, which regards Vatican City, and at this stage we can take some concrete measures. But of course, our State is a very small one.

We don't have a significant impact on the phenomenon, but we feel that we can really make a great contribution on the side of the education of the new generations to use properly the resources of this world.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

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07 November 2023, 08:41