VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The crises caused by climate change and worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic require a strong response to prevent a "'perfect storm' that could rupture the bonds holding our society together within the greater gift of God's creation," Pope Francis said.
Ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, Oct. 31-Nov. 12, the pope was the day's speaker on BBC Radio's "Thought for a Day" program and called on world leaders attending the conference "to provide effective responses to the present ecological crisis and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations."
"We can confront these crises by retreating into isolationism, protectionism and exploitation. Or we can see in them a real chance for change, a genuine moment of conversion, and not simply in a spiritual sense," he said.
BBC Radio's "Thought for the Day" program features "reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news." This is the second time a pope has addressed the program. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI was the first pope to be featured.
In his reflection, Pope Francis said that climate change and the pandemic exposed "our deep vulnerability" and raised doubts about the world's economic systems, causing many to lose their "sense of security" and "control over our lives."
"We find ourselves increasingly frail and even fearful, caught up in a succession of 'crises' in the areas of health care, the environment, food supplies and the economy, to say nothing of social, humanitarian and ethical crises," he said. "All these crises are profoundly interconnected."
Nevertheless, the crises afflicting the world call for "radical decisions that are not always easy" but also present "opportunities that we must not waste," the pope said.
Confronting the current challenges, he added, "can only be pursued through a renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world, and an effective solidarity based on justice, a sense of our common destiny and a recognition of the unity of our human family in God's plan for the world."
Recalling his meeting Oct. 4 with major religious leaders and top scientists at the Vatican to appeal for action on climate change, the pope recalled the words of one scientist who warned that if "things continue as they are, in 50 years' time my baby granddaughter will have to live in an unlivable world.'"
"We cannot allow this to happen!" Pope Francis said. "It is essential that each of us be committed to this urgent change of direction, sustained by our own faith and spirituality."
"And it is worth repeating that each of us -- whoever and wherever we may be -- can play our own part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and the degradation of our common home," the pope said.