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Pope Francis and John Kerry meet at the Vatican

Pope Francis meets with U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, May 15, 2021. Pope Francis meets with U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, May 15, 2021./ Vatican News.

Pope Francis met with U.S. President Joe Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry on Saturday.

Kerry is in Europe to meet with government officials and business leaders ahead of the Nov. 1-12 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the State Department said.

/ Vatican News.
/ Vatican News.

At the time of publication, the Vatican had released no information about what the two men discussed, in line with its usual custom for papal meetings with non-heads of state. It noted the audience in its daily bulletin and released photographs of the meeting.

Pope Francis is reportedly considering a visit to Glasgow for the climate conference, and local authorities are said to be preparing for the possibility.

Kerry told Vatican News that he thought the pope would attend the event.

He said: “His encyclical Laudato si’ is really a very, very powerful document, eloquent and morally very persuasive. 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.”

“So, we need everybody in this fight. All the leaders of the world need to come together and every country needs to do its part. And I think, I think his Holiness speaks with a moral authority that is quite separate. It’s unique and we need all the power we can bring to the table.”

Ahead of his meeting with the pope, Kerry delivered a keynote speech at the “Dreaming of a Better Restart” conference, a closed-door meeting in Vatican City on May 14.

The conference, hosted by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, included panel discussions on debt relief for developing countries and climate action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Raj Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, both spoke at the Vatican event via video link.

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Economists Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz came to the Vatican to take part in the one-day event, as did economic ministers from Mexico, Argentina, Spain, France, and Germany.

Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the IMF, and Félix Tshisekedi, head of the African Union, were also featured speakers.

/ Vatican News.
/ Vatican News.

Kerry, a baptized Catholic, previously met Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2014 and 2016, when he served as U.S. Secretary of State during the Obama administration.

He also met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, during his last visit.

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The 77-year-old diplomat visited St. Peter’s Basilica on the morning of May 14, where he was shown Michelangelo’s Pietà up close.

After meeting with Italian and Vatican officials in Rome, the climate envoy will travel to London to meet with U.K. government representatives hosting the COP26 summit and then to Berlin to meet with German officials.

/ Vatican News.
/ Vatican News.

Kerry told Vatican News that the pope could exert an influence far beyond that of most other leaders.

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He said that “because he is above politics and outside of the hurly-burly of day-to-day, national conflict, etc. I think he can sort of shake people a little bit and bring them to the table with a better sense of our common obligation.”

/ Vatican News.
/ Vatican News.

“And I think that the Vatican may be a small entity, but the flock is enormous on a global basis and His Holiness, Pope Francis, has the ability to help galvanize action from countries. He has the ability to be able to affect citizens in many different countries all at the same time and have them call on their governments to be responsible, to do what we need to do to preserve the planet.”

“So, I think that the world has a special respect for Pope Francis and there is no question that he has already been a significant leader in this endeavor. And we look to him for further guidance and help in getting this job done.”

This report has been updated to include John Kerry’s comments to Vatican News

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