STARTING a global meeting of leaders, Pope Francis told former US President Bill Clinton and the global community to take action to ensure peace for future generations and stop climate change “before it’s too late”.
Opening the 2023 Clinton Global Initiative meeting of leaders in New York City September 18, Mr Clinton asked the Pope, connected by video call, what ordinary people could do to address society’s towering problems.
“We are in need of a great and shared assumption of responsibility,” the Pope said, adding that “no challenge is too great if we each meet it with personal conversion and the personal contribution that each of us can make to solve it from an awareness of what makes us part of one destiny.”
“Difficulties can bring out the best or the worst in us.
“Therein lies our challenge – fighting selfishness, narcissism, division, with generosity and humility.”
Started in 2005, the Clinton Global Initiative aims to bring leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
In his opening talk, Pope Francis elaborated on the need to confront together the principal challenges facing society, particularly the “winds of war that blow across the world” and the climate crisis.
“It is time for the weapons to cease, for us to return to dialogue, to diplomacy. For the plans of conquest and military aggression to cease,” he said.
“That is why I repeat: No to war, no to war.”
The Pope also urged the leaders to “work together to stop ecological catastrophe before it’s too late,” again sharing that he decided to write another document on the subject eight years after the publication of his encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home.
The document, which Pope Francis has said would be an apostolic exhortation, was expected to be released on October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.
The Pope said that when people spoke about migration, it was important to remember that they were not talking about numbers, but people.
“When we think of migration, let’s think of the eyes of the children we find in refugee camps,” he said.
He also recalled the work of the Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital, where children from around the world are given free medical care – including more than 2000 Ukrainian children who fled their country with parents or relatives.
“It’s evident that our great little hospital cannot solve the problems of sick children in the whole world,” he said.
“However, it wants to be a sign. A testimony of how it is possible, in the midst of so many efforts, to combine great scientific research aimed at curing children and the free welcome of those in need.”
Pope Francis closed by saying he was concerned about the situation of children worldwide and the fight against climate change. “Let us take action before it is too late,” he repeated.