Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I offer you a cordial welcome and I thank Mrs Casellati and Mr Fico for their kind
Several days ago, on 4 October, I joined various religious leaders and scientists
in signing a Joint Appeal in view of COP26. The inspiration for that Meeting,
which was preceded by months of intense dialogue, was, in the words of the
Appeal, an “awareness of the unprecedented challenges that threaten us and life
on our beautiful common home… and the necessity of an even deeper solidarity
in the face of the global pandemic and of the growing concern” in that regard
(Faith and Science: Towards COP26, Joint Appeal, 4 October 2021).
At our Meeting, we affirmed, in a spirit of fraternity, an impressive convergence
of all our different voices on two points. First, our sorrow at the grave harm
inflicted on the human family and its common home; and second, the urgent
need for a change of direction, in order to move decisively and firmly away from
the throwaway culture, prevalent in our society, towards a culture of care.
That challenge is complex and demanding, but humanity has the means to effect
this change, which calls for genuine conversion and a steadfast determination to
meet it. This is especially incumbent upon those called to positions of great
responsibility in the various sectors of society.
The Joint Appeal, which I am symbolically presenting to you through the
Presidents of the two Houses of the Italian Parliament, includes a number of
commitments that we intend to make in the realm of action and example, as
well as in education. Indeed, we find ourselves facing a significant educational
challenge, since “all change requires an educational process aimed at developing
a new universal solidarity and a more welcoming society” (Message for the
Launch of the Global Compact on Education, 12 September 2019). The challenge
to promote an education for an integral ecology is one to which we, the
representatives of the religions, are firmly committed.
At the same time, we appeal to governments to adopt without delay a course of
action that would limit the average global temperature rise and to take
courageous steps, including the strengthening of international cooperation.
Specifically, we appeal to them to promote a transition towards clean energy; to
adopt sustainable land use practices, preventing deforestation and restoring
forests, conserving biodiversity, favouring food systems that are environmentally
friendly and respectful of local cultures, working to end hunger and malnutrition,
and to promote sustainable lifestyles and patterns of consumption and
This means a transition towards a more integral and inclusive model of
development, one grounded in solidarity and responsibility, whose effects on the
world of work will also have to be taken into careful consideration.
To meet this challenge, everyone has a role to play. That of political and
government leaders is especially important, and indeed crucial. This demanding
change of direction will require great wisdom, foresight and concern for the
common good: in a word, the fundamental virtues of good politics. As political
leaders and legislators, you are responsible for influencing people’s actions by
those means provided by the law, “which lays down rules for admissible conduct
in the light of the common good” (Laudato Si’, 177), and with respect for such
other fundamental principles as the dignity of the human person, solidarity and
subsidiarity (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 160ff.). Care
for our common home naturally falls within the scope of these principles. To be
sure, it is not just a matter of discouraging and penalizing improper practices,
but also, and above all, of concretely encouraging new paths to pursue, paths
better suited to the objectives we seek to achieve. These are essential elements
to be considered as we strive to meet the goals set out in the Paris Agreement
and to contribute to the positive outcome of COP26.
It is my hope that your work and commitment in the process of preparing for
COP26 and beyond will be illuminated by the two important principles of
responsibility and solidarity. We owe this to the young, to future generations,
who deserve our best efforts to ensure that they can live in hope. For this to
happen, there is an urgent need for wise and just laws that transcend the
narrow confines of a certain politics and quickly reach a fitting consensus,
through the use of trustworthy and transparent means.
Once again I thank you for your visit. May God bless you, your families and your