Meeting with Pope Francis – a Beacon of Hope for a Just and Sustainable World
I was honored to represent Ceres at a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican in January. I joined 80 participants – private sector, civil society, and faith group leaders from around the world – at the Global Foundation’s Rome Roundtable.
I arrived at the Vatican that morning filled with excitement. Over the past few years Pope Francis has emerged as one of the most important voices in the global fight for social justice, sustainable development and tackling climate change.
In his 2015 Encyclical the Pope called climate change “one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. ” He added “there is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”
Our meeting with Pope Francis on Jan. 14 began with the Global Foundation’s Secretary-General Steve Howard briefing the Pope on various initiatives, including the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change (GIC). The GIC is a joint initiative of four groups – Ceres, IIGCC, IGCC and AIGCC – that mobilize global investor action on climate change.
In his brief address, Pope Francis called on leaders to forge “a globalization that is cooperative, and thus positive, as opposed to the globalization of indifference” that ignores the needs of the poor. The Pope encouraged all of us to help ensure the global community achieves the Sustainable Development Goals set in 2015. More than 190 world leaders committed to 17 goals to help end poverty and hunger, fight inequality and discrimination, advance peace, tackle climate change and pollution, ensure access to clean energy and clean water, protect oceans and forests, among other goals.
The Pope went on to condemn the current world economic system saying it “discards men, women and children because they are no longer considered useful or productive according to criteria drawn from the world of business” and makes “mammon, the god of money, the center of its attention.” He urged “those with responsibilities in the worlds of finance and politics to use their intelligence and their resources not merely to control and monitor the effects of globalization, but also to help leaders at different political levels – regional, national and international – to correct its orientation whenever necessary.”
(The full text of the Pope’s address is here)
After his address, we formed a line down the center aisle to greet him. When I met the Pope I thanked him for his leadership on climate change and sustainable development and told him that I hoped the world responds to his call to action, adding that the United States needs his help now more than ever.
I left the meeting with Pope Francis feeling reenergized and inspired. I also felt a renewed sense of determination. Now is a critical moment for Ceres and our allies to redouble our efforts to build a just and sustainable world. Let’s get to work.