Cardinal Turkson to Exaudi: Pope May Go to Glasgow for COP26

Would Like to Be There With Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, But Nothing Confirmed Yet

Cardinal Turkson Pope COP26 Scotland
Cardinal Turkson - Copyright: Vatican Media

The Pope may make a brief trip to Scotland for the COP26 event this November, says Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson.

The Cardinal Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development was responding to Exaudi’s question on whether such a visit was being contemplated during the Vatican’s Press Conference on the conclusion of the special year on the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si and to present the platform of Laudato Si’ initiatives.

Exaudi’s Editorial Director and Senior Vatican Correspondent acknowledged that sources had suggested the Pontiff may make the discussed trip, including Special US Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, who in an interview with Vatican News following his encounter with the Pontiff, said the Pope would likely participate in the event.

“The Pope,” he said,  “is one of the great voices of reason and compelling moral authority on the subject of the climate crisis. He’s been ahead of the curve. He’s been a leader.” Noting his encyclical Laudato si’ is really a “very, very powerful document, eloquent and morally very persuasive,” he stated: “And I think that his voice will be a very important voice leading up to and through the Glasgow conference, which I believe he intends to attend.”

The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on Nov. 1-12, 2021. The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Speaking along with the Ghanaian-born cardinal was Fr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, coordinator of the “Ecology and Creation” Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development; Sr. Sheila Kinsey, executive co-secretary of the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission (JPIC) of the International Union of Superiors General; Carolina Bianchi, Laudato si’ animator of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) and INECOOP collaborator for the Policoro Youth Project of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

The presentation took place in the Holy See Press Office with some accredited journalists, but was also streamed for all following virtually.

‘The request has been made’

Exaudi had asked the cardinal, that in keeping with the spirit of the Year of the recently-concluded Laudato Si, whether he sees such a visit coming to fruition and what would be its significance.

“We are hoping and we are keeping our fingers crossed,” the Cardinal said, “noting the request has been made and addressed to him.”

“As far as I know, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, has also–through his personal secretary–made contact, and in time to try to synchronize the dates.

They would like to synchronize the date and be there together, he noted.


“However, right now, I cannot confirm any such participation, but the request has been made.”

Here is the Vatican-provided text of Cardinal Turkson’s intervention:


Dear sisters, brothers and dear friends,

Good morning and a warm welcome to everyone for this press conference that the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has organized for the conclusion of the special year of the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, announced on May 24 last year, and for the launch of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

Last year, the covid-19 pandemic prevented celebrations, conferences, events, a documentary and an immersive show (ECHO) for the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical letter. However, but this discomfort has sparked the creativity of the Dicastery, leading it to suggest to the Holy Father the proclamation of a special anniversary of Laudato si’, with many rich initiatives and activities: Laudato si’ week (18-24 May), a common prayer for earth and humanity (on the date of the anniversary, 24 May), the publication of an Interdicasterial Text with operational guidelines on Laudato si’, Webinar for the evalutation and future of Laudato si’ (in June), the season of creation (1/09 to 4/10), reinventing the Global Pact on Education (October), Economy of Francesco (February), World water day (22 March 2021), the worldwide receipt of the proposal and celebration of a special year of Laudato si’ has been fabulous and generous.

Local Churches, associations, vements, and many others have responded with great enthusiasm to Pope Francis’s appeal to take care of our common home. Laudato si’ living gardens and chapels were born, places not only made of trees but born from the interconnection between the territory, humanity and its educational, social and economic activities, respecting ecosystems and biodiversity. For example, the Church in Bangladesh, with 400,000 Catholics have planted more than 700,000 trees this year, nearly two per baptized indivudual. The young Vivianne Harr received a million dollars from Twitter to plant trees to stop the advancement of the Sahara desert. These are the first, visible fruits of the special anniversary year that commemorates the impact Laudato si’ has had on us all.

To testify the enthusiastic reception of the Encyclical Laudato si’, the Dicastery will also publish a Laudato Si’ Reader, which contains testimonies of the impact and experiences of people from all corners of the globe on Laudato si’. The book will highlight how Laudato si’ is not a story that is lived from afar, but an encyclical about life that is at the heart of our natural and social environment.

With this press conference, the special year of Laudato si’ ends. However, it also signals the beginning of seven year action plans as local Churches, communities, businesses, healthcare centres and education facilities continue to bring the message of the encyclical to life through concrete actions.

Six years after the encyclical letter Laudato si’, we must look at the world we are leaving to our children, to future generations. The pandemic has made us reflect and has taught us a lot, but the cry of the Earth and the poor is becoming more and more heartbreaking, and the message from our scientists and our young people is increasingly alarming: we are destroying our future. Our human and non-human family, in its entirety, is in great danger, and we no longer have time to wait or postpone action. It is of fundamental importance to limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, since exceeding it would and already does have disproportionate, catastrophic global impacts.

We must listen to and respond to science, to the cry of the Earth, of the poor and of our children. We must listen to the frustration and anger of young people towards our generation; we must listen to their message of hope, creativity and act now to ensure a better future for them and for generations to come. We must become painfully aware of the personal suffering it causes and as a result dare to use our agency to transform lived realities that listen to and abide by socio-ecological limits.

Now more than ever, it’s time to act, to do something concrete. We can all change for a just and sustainable future, we must think new models, reject questionable life behaviors and engage in new ones. We need to recognize our role as ecological citizens and make the world a greener and better place, healthier for us and sustainable for our lives. Pope Francis has invited all of us to join forces, to dream and “prepare the future”. This means recognizing that even if things look bleak, as they are not set in stone, it is worth looking for economic models that will help humanity create a more just world, and not return to a world of inequality.

As we try to prepare the future, we can also recognize that it is time to embrace new opportunities. There is no sustainability without fairness, without justice and without involving everyone, especially the poorest and most marginalized people; we must involve all voices and wisdom.

With this in mind, the Dicastery is pleased to announce that the Laudato si’ year will flow into a concrete action project, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a seven-year journey towards integral ecology that will be explained in the detail during this conference. As Pope Francis reminds us, the mitigation of the effects of the current imbalance depends on what we do now, and I join His Holiness in urgently inviting you all to renew the dialogue on how we are building the future of the planet.

We can all collaborate for the care of creation and I would like to conclude with a sentence from the encyclical: hope invites us to recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always change course, that we can always do something to solve problems. It’s our turn.

[Vatican-provided English text]