The “people’s pope” has a jam-packed schedule in New York City, and he kicked off his day with an address to one of the largest gatherings of presidents and diplomats ever at the United Nations General Assembly. Pope Francis spoke about many of the issues he discussed during his D.C. tour, including climate change, poverty, and the crisis of war, especially in parts of the Middle East and Africa.
On the subject of climate change, he linked the issue to inequality and injustice against the poor. “The misuse and destruction of the environment,” the pope said, “are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.”
The pope also tied his environmental themes to “the absolute respect for life in all its stages and dimension” — that is, abortion and the death penalty. Some conservatives in Washington had hoped the pope would sound a similar pro-life note during his address to Congress.
War was another central theme. The pontiff mentioned Syria and Iraq by name and brought up his repeated appeals for the world to tackle “the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa, and other African countries.” The pope did not deflect the blame off the leaders in front of him, telling them, “Real people take precedent over partisan interests.”
Pope Francis is the fifth bishop of Rome to give a U.N. address, and the pontiff closed out his remarks by quoting parts of Pope Paul VI’s 1965 speech to the General Assembly, saying, “The appeal to the moral conscience of man has never before been as necessary as it is today, in an age marked by such great human progress. For the danger comes neither from progress nor from science; if these are used well they can, on the contrary, help to solve a great number of the serious problems besetting mankind.”
“May God bless you all,” Pope Francis concluded to an enthusiastic standing ovation, before taking off downtown to lead a multi-faith service at the September 11 Memorial and Museum. After that: a visit to a school in East Harlem and taking the popemobile for a spin through Central Park.Pope Francis Echoes Themes on Climate, Poverty