VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican hopes a meeting where world religious leaders will take a common stand on the environment can “raise ambitions” on what can be achieved at next month’s U.N. Climate Change Conference, its foreign minister says.

Monday’s day-long event, organised by the Vatican, the United Kingdom and Italy, brings together about 40 faith leaders of the world’s major religions and scientists, from about 20 countries.

The leaders, including Pope Francis, will sign a joint appeal and hand it to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Britain’s Alok Sharma, president of the U.N. gathering known as COP26 in Glasgow.

“It is our hope that (the Monday meeting) will give an impact to opinion in general but within our faith groups and faith families and also within the political community to raise ambitions with regards to what can be achieved by COP26,” said Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Speaking in a telephone interview with Reuters on Sunday, Gallagher said the Vatican hoped the direct appeal to COP26 leaders would have the same effect as the pope’s landmark 2015 environmental encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praised Be).

It drew massive attention to climate crisis and spurred activism by faith groups.

“Most of the religions represented, whether it’s through their sacred scriptures or their traditions or the spirituality that they represent, have the basis for a renewal of our relationship with the environment and with the planet,” Gallagher said.

The meeting is called “Faith and Science: Towards

COP26”. It brings together Christian leaders, including the pope, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Orthodox ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew, as well as representatives of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism.

The pope, Welby and Bartholomew issued a joint appeal to members of their Churches last month to “listen to the cry of the earth”.


Scotland’s bishops said in July that the pope will attend the opening of COP26, health permitting. A decision is expected in the next few days.

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