Pope demands voice for poor on climate

Francis says climate change is serious threat

(ANSA) - Vatican City, September 11 - Pope Francis on Friday demanded a place for the poor at climate talks, reaffirming the message of his recent landmark encyclical by stressing that climate change poses one of the most serious threats to humanity.
    Speaking to participants in a climate-change meeting - who presented him with an electric bike - the pontiff urged them to "make every effort to make sure that the poorest, among countries and human beings, can make their voices heard at forums trying to solve the single, complex social and environmental crisis.
    "This too is a duty of environmental justice", Francis underscored. The pope voiced the hope that "really significant and effective global environmental agreements" can be reached at the UN at the end of this month and an upcoming Paris conference, the COP 21, at the start of December.
    Francis told the environmental group that "climate is a common good, gravely threatened today: as shown by phenomena such as climate change, global warming and the rise in extreme weather events". He said it was "a question of justice," because it is "the poorest who suffer the most from climate change".
    "We cannot forget the grave social implications of climate change," said the pontiff.
    The issue of climate change is a question of justice and solidarity, Francis underlined, affecting the dignity of individuals, communities and nations. Science and technology, he said, have placed in our hands unprecedented power: it is our duty to humanity, and in particular towards the poor and the future generations, to use it for the common good.
    The pope stressed that every one of us is called to react personally and responsibly to the challenge of climate change - not offering unrealistic solutions, but responding to the best of our abilities in the family and the workplace, in civil society and within economic or research institutions. We can only achieve results by working together for the common good, he said, praising the organisers of the meeting for bringing together participants from the different sectors of religion, politics, economics, social and scientific research.
    The pontiff said we must step up this dialogue to create an "authentic alliance" that can bring about effective environmental agreements.
    Francis was speaking at an audience for participants in an international conference in Rome on Environmental Justice and Climate Change, promoted by the Foundation for Sustainable Development.
    In other remarks Friday, Francis and Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic on Friday discussed "the condition of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and the importance of privileging a shared solution of the ongoing crisis", the Vatican press office said. Many of the refugees from the two countries are passing through Serbia on their way to countries like Germany.
    At a mass earlier Friday, Francis said people who never badmouth others should be made saints "immediately" and that everyone, including himself, is in danger of being hypocritical.