Pope Francis Pleads for World to 'Listen to the Cry of the Earth' in Climate Change Fight

Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians issued a joint statement on Tuesday, pleading for delegates at the upcoming climate summit to "listen to the cry of the Earth" and take strides against climate change.

The joint statement is the first of its kind, issued by the top Christian leaders in the world, and pleaded for the attendees at the November summit and the world as a whole to make choices for the good of the planet.

"As leaders of our Churches, we call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavor to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behavior and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us," the statement said.

The leaders also noted that emphasis has been put on short-term gains over long-term sustainability, and urged people to focus on building a stronger foundation for future generations.

"Technology has unfolded new possibilities for progress but also for accumulating unrestrained wealth, and many of us behave in ways which demonstrate little concern for other people or the limits of the planet," they said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

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A joint statement issued by the top Christian leaders in the world urged people to "listen to the cry of the Earth" and fight against climate change. Above, Pope Francis speaks to a crowd during the Angelus prayer on September 5, 2021, at St. Peter's Square. Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

The three Christian clerics said the coronavirus pandemic gave political leaders an unprecedented opportunity to rethink the global economy and make it more sustainable and socially just for the poor.

"We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations," they said. But in the statement, they also noted that the threat is no longer far off.

"The extreme weather and natural disasters of recent months reveal afresh to us with great force and at great human cost that climate change is not only a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent matter of survival," said the statement from Francis, Archbishop Justin Welby of the Anglican Communion and the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

The statement sought to give a sense of urgency to the upcoming U.N. climate summit, which Francis at least is expected to attend in person. The conference, known as COP26, is scheduled for early November in Glasgow, Scotland.

The statement was dated September 1, when the Vatican celebrates the world day for the care of creation. The Vatican didn't immediately respond when asked why the statement was released nearly a week late.

While the joint statement was a first, Francis has frequently cited Bartholomew's teachings on the environment, including in his landmark 2015 environmental encyclical "Praised Be."

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Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians have issued a joint appeal for delegates at the climate conference to make sacrifices to save the planet. Above, Pope Francis (center), Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I (left) and Canterbury Archbishop Justin Welby pray together inside the Basilica of St. Francis, in Assisi, Italy, on September 20, 2016. Tiziana Fabi/Pool Photo via AP