Pope Francis was prepared to do everything he could to get a climate change agreement signed in Paris. But Cardinal Peter Turkson, who helped draft the papal encyclical on climate said Pope Francis has “deep trust” that negotiators in Paris will get the job done. But, just in case they don’t, the pope might possibly send a gentle message.
“If it gets to a stalemate or whatever, he may utter a statement or make a comment or whatever, but he will refrain from exercising any coercive power on the things over here, because that would not belong to his style,” Turkson said at the Paris conference.
Imagine that! The pope had “deep trust” that the negotiators would get the job done. That says volumes. In other words, the Pope knew that he had so many of the negotiators in his camp already, that he could actually have deep trust in them to sign an agreement. That’s incredible! Climate change summit after climate change summit had failed because of deep-seated political and practical problems between the nations at the negotiating table. Yet, this time, the pope had “deep trust” that they would do something.
Joe Ware, a protestant spokesman for Christian Aid, welcomed Turkson’s remark, saying such an action “would give that final nudge to the negotiations.”
One does not have to think very deeply about this to clearly understand what Cardinal Turkson was saying. Cardinal Turkson was saying that pope Francis did not have to worry too much that a climate change agreement would not be reached. There is only one reason why that could be. Through his diplomatic channels he already knew that the key players and those likely to oppose an agreement were prepared to sign an agreement within reasonable bounds.
Remember, the immensely popular pope had used his “bully pulpit,” and a host of other key activities, including publishing an encyclical on climate, bringing 60 big-city mayors to Rome to talk climate change, back channel diplomatic contacts, no doubt, etc., all calculated to make sure that going into the meetings in Paris, there would be enough political pressure from the global grass roots to likely come back out with an agreement.
Another point. If there was a stalemate, the pope would only need to make a gentle statement to nudge any remaining world leaders over the line. That suggests that so many of the world’s leaders were already lined up behind the concept of an agreement, that no one would want to hold up the historic moment and be shamed in public for doing so, particularly with so much grass roots
Turkson said that the Vatican has “great interest” in the success of the negotiations, namely getting the world to stop using carbon power by mid-century to save the Earth. But there are other, perhaps even more important aims. The Vatican wants to be the moral voice of the world. If the pope can orchestrate something as significant as a climate agreement in Paris on the basis of her moral authority and influence, then she has certainly achieved a very important moment in her history. Rome is getting the nations used to responding to her moral authority, and thereby yielding to her pre-eminence in geopolitical affairs.
The Vatican has observer status at the United Nations. When the UN was established in 1945, the papacy did not have the advantage it has now with a neutered Protestantism through the ecumenical movement and a global popularity that gives the pope’s moral voice extensive influence. Back then, the papacy was considered to be the anti-Christ by Protestants. For Rome to be a member of the United Nations then, would have complicated her diplomatic activities and consultations, and probably would have generated a lot of protests and hostility.
Now however, the papacy is viewed much differently than back in the 1940s. It is even considered to be helpful and wise now days. The pope is extremely popular too. He is revered by presidents, prime ministers, kings and a host of other rulers of every level and classification. The fact that there isn’t the hostility to Rome like there used to be, means that the Vatican could well consider a change in her relationship to the United Nations.
Cardinal Bernadito Auzo, the acting head of the Vatican delegation who observed the climate talks, even mentioned it. He said that the Vatican is seriously considering joining the UN Framework Convention on climate Change. While this is not a matter of full membership in the United Nations, it would certainly test the waters to see if full membership would be acceptable.
“If the Vatican went from an outside observer to a member state, that ‘could bring some sense of the moral side of the story, which often gets lost in the talk,’” said Jennifer Morgan, global climate program director for the World Resources Institute.
This would be significant enough. But think for a moment about the consequences of the Vatican joining the United Nations as a full member. She already has global pre-eminence. Would world leaders already look to her for guidance, and make visits to Rome to talk with the pope on a regular basis. Would they be able to oppose Rome’s influence if she was a voting member among them? Would they be able to ignore her moral influence on the world body?
Right now the UN is a secular, political entity. But with the moral influence of the pope as a voting member, the only member of its type how would this effect the decision making of the world body. I dare say, this would place her essentially as queen of the earth.
“I sit a queen and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” Revelation 18:7