Environmental destruction ‘an offence against God’ – Pope to COP28

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has told world leaders attending the COP28 that destroying the environment is “an offence against God.”

In a message read for him by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) where the conference is taking place, the Pope underlined the need for “multilateralism” to establish “global and effective rules” to fight climate change.

“Climate change signals the need for political change. Let us emerge from the narrowness of self-interest and nationalism. These are approaches belonging to the past,” he said.

The Pope called it “disturbing” that “global warming has been accompanied by a general cooling of multilateralism, a growing lack of trust within the international community.”

“How much energy is humanity wasting on numerous wars… conflicts that will not solve problems but only increase them!” he said.

Pope Francis described environmental protections as part of “a culture of life” and underlined that attempts to shift blame for climate change onto the poor or high birth rates “must be firmly dispelled.”

“Births are not a problem, but a resource: They are not opposed to life, but for life, whereas certain ideological and utilitarian models now being imposed with a velvet glove on families and peoples constitute real forms of colonisation,” he said.

“Let us join in embracing an alternative vision: This will help to bring about an ecological conversion, for ‘there are no lasting changes without cultural changes’,” the pope continued.

The keynote address that the pope had intended to give in person at the COP28 was distributed to the attendees in Dubai.

Pope Francis, who turns 87 in two weeks, cancelled his scheduled trip to the UAE days before the climate summit at the request of his doctors after coming down with a flue infection that left him with breathing difficulties and acute bronchitis.

“Sadly, I am unable to be present with you, as I had greatly desired,” the pope said in his

Even so…., I am with you because the destruction of the environment is an offence against God, a sin that is not only personal but also structural, one that greatly endangers all human beings, especially the most vulnerable in our midst, and threatens to unleash a conflict between generations.”

Pope Francis would have been the first pope to attend the UN’s climate change conference, known as the Conference of Parties (COP) which has been held annually since 1995.

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