Pope Francis will miss Cop26 climate change summit

Pope Francis, who has had recent colon surgery, had hinted he hoped to attend the summit

From left, the president of the Cop26 conference, Alok Sharma, Pope Francis and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio attend a conference at the Vatican on Monday. AP
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Pope Francis will not be travelling to Scotland for the Cop26 environmental summit, the Vatican has confirmed.

Cardinal Parolin, his secretary of state, will lead the Vatican delegation in the pope’s absence to represent the Holy See at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow.

“I can specify that the delegation will be led by His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of his Holiness,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican Press Office, said.

Pope Francis, who has had recent colon surgery had hinted he hoped to attend the summit but Friday’s announcement was the official confirmation that he would not be travelling to Glasgow.

Last month, the pope said: “In principle, the programme is that I go. It all depends on how I feel at the time. But in fact, my speech is already being prepared, and the plan is to be there."

The Vatican had never said that he would definitely attend.

Scotland's bishops had announced in July that the pope would, health permitting, attend the opening of the conference that runs from October 31 until November 12.

The 84-year-old pope left hospital on July 14 and after a period of rest he resumed his full activities, including a trip to Budapest and Slovakia.

This week he presided at a major event with other religious leaders to bring attention to the environment and the dangers of climate change.

A Vatican source said there was still a possibility that the pope would address the conference by video or that Cardinal Parolin would read a message on his behalf

In Friday, the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said they welcomed news that the Cardinal would lead the delegation.

“While Scotland's Catholic bishops had welcomed the prospect of Pope Francis attending the Cop26 conference in Glasgow, in the event that he is unable to attend they would accept that decision with some sadness,” a spokesman said.

“The bishops welcome the announcement that Cardinal Parolin will lead the Holy See delegation as an indication of the importance the Church attaches to Cop26 and will continue to keep Pope Francis in their prayers.”

Updated: October 08, 2021, 9:15 PM