The statement sought to give a sense of urgency to the upcoming U.N. climate summit, which Francis at least is expected to attend in person. The conference, known as COP26, is scheduled for early November in Glasgow, Scotland.
“This is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to address together the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty, and the importance of global cooperation,” they wrote.
Individuals have a role to play, but leaders bear the greatest responsibility to take courageous decisions in Glasgow, the statement said.
“We say: Choose people-centered profits; make short-term sacrifices to safeguard all our futures; become leaders in the transition to just and sustainable economies.”
The statement was dated Sept. 1, when their churches celebrate the world day for the care of creation. There was no official explanation for why it was released a week late, though the Vatican is essentially closed for business in August, suggesting summer holidays might have been to blame.
While the joint statement was a first, Francis has frequently cited Bartholomew’s teachings on the environment, including in his landmark 2015 environmental encyclical “Praised Be.” Welby, a former oil executive, has spoken out about the moral crisis of climate change though his Church of England has declined to divest fully from carbon-intensive companies, arguing that it can force greater change on the fossil fuel industry as a shareholder.
This story was first published on September 7, 2021. It was updated on September 10, 2021 to correct an erroneous reference in the headline to the Archbishop of Canterbury as an abbot. He is an archbishop.