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Climate Change Conference Aims to Prepare World for Encyclical

Cardinal Peter Turkson, Archbishop John Onaiyekan Share on Why Vatican-Held Summit Was Unique

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Whether it’s Pope Francis’ collaborator on the upcoming encyclical, Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace or Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria), partaking in the encounter, the consensus is the summit on climate change at the Vatican was one of a kind.

​The Archbishop of Abuja was interviewed by ZENIT on the sidelines of the summit, entitled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Humanity,” held in the Vatican’s Casina Pio VI on Tuesday.

Sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, SDSN and Religions for Peace, various religious, world, and industry leaders as well as scholars participated. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was among those who addressed participants at the start of the summit.

On what his hopes and expectations were for the summit, Archbishop Onaiyekan said, “We have been attending some meetings on climate change, but this is the first one at the Vatican, and at this premises.”

“It’s also the first where we’ve been able to put together religious leaders, political authorities, business leaders and scientists.” the African archbishop noted, saying it is a powerful combination of the four groups.

“We are hoping we’ll find a way of keeping a link going, so it’s not a one-time situation,” he expressed.

While acknowledging it can be difficult, Archbishop Onaiyekan stressed: “We have always tried to find a good way of linking religious leaders with politicians because the politicians make the decisions.”

“They need guidance, but they often don’t want guidance,” he said, “That’s the problem.”

Responding to whether he believes the summit is achieving that goal, he noted, “Well, we’ll wait and see.”

Despite the seeming skepticism, he noted: “When I hear a president, like President Correa [of Ecuador who spoke], my heart moves very well.”

“Here is a man whose heart is in the right direction, who really is committed to serving his people,” he said, adding this “so often is missing and not often the case for leaders of poor countries.”

Responding to how his people are doing, the Archbishop of Abuja noted how now that they have finished the presidential elections in Nigeria, and that he and his people are hoping for and looking forward to seeing a change.

Following the conference, ZENIT spoke with Cardinal Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who has collaborated with the Holy Father on the upcoming encyclical on ecology expected to be released by the summer.

“I believe the summit went very well,” Cardinal Turkson said, noting this was part of a series of activities designed, not just by his dicastery but also by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, and other organizations, to somewhat prepare people for the publication of the encyclical.

He also shared that he expects that even after the encyclical is released, there will be other activities geared to facilitating its reception.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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