UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, had a private meeting with Pope Francis this morning.
Ki-moon is in Rome to address an International Symposium on climate change that was held at the Vatican. The symposium, entitled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development” was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
In a communique released by the Holy See Press Office, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi stated that during the meeting, the UN Secretary General expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father for accepting the invitation to address the United Nations on September 25th.
“[Ban Ki-moon] expressed his expectation for his address on that occasion and for his next encyclical, and outlined several points on the United Nations current commitment on not only environmental issues, but also on migrants and the tragic humanitarian situations in the areas of world struck by conflicts,” Fr. Lombardi wrote.
‘Good Stewards of Creation’
Following his meeting with Pope Francis, Ki-moon addressed the international symposium, telling participants that his conversation was “fruitful and wide-ranging”.
“I commend His Holiness, and all faith and scientific leaders here, for raising awareness of the urgent need to promote sustainable development and address climate,” he said.
Calling climate change the “defining issue of our time”, the UN Secretary General highlighted the importance of science and religion coming together to work on addressing it.
“Science and religion are not at odds on climate change. Indeed, they are fully aligned,” he said. Together, we must clearly communicate that the science of climate change is deep, sound and not in doubt.”
Ki-moon stated that current projections place the rise in global temperature at 4-5 degrees Celsius, due to global emissions. Saying that such a rise is morally indefensible, Secretary General Ki-moon reiterated the Holy See’s stance, saying that “there is a moral imperative to act.”
Concluding his address, Ban Ki-moon said that he “looks forward to the upcoming encyclical by Pope Francis.”
Earlier this year, Fr. Lombardi stated that the Holy Father is expected to release his encyclical sometime before the summer.
Throughout his pontificate, Pope Francis has spoken of the care for the environment and creation as one of his concerns. During a meeting in January 2014 with ambassadors from around the world, the Holy Father warned that the exploitation of the environment was one of many threats to peace.
“Even if ‘nature is at our disposition,’ all too often we do not ‘respect it or consider it a gracious gift which we must care for and set at the service of our brothers and sisters, including future generations,” he said.