Merkel and Pope discuss climate change on farewell visit


VATICAN CITY, Oct. 7 (Reuters) – Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday said the response to climate change would require a radical change in the way people live when she met Pope Francis on a visit to farewell to the Vatican and Italy.

Francis and other religious leaders on Monday launched a joint call for the COP26 of the United Nations Climate Change Conference next month to offer concrete solutions to save the planet from an “unprecedented ecological crisis”. Read more

Merkel praised the Pope’s position.

“Humanity’s response to climate change will require a radical change in our way of life,” she told reporters after the couple also discussed biodiversity, the future of the European Union, global conflicts and sexual abuse in the Church.

Merkel and Francis, who have met several times before, spoke privately in the Papal Library of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican for about 45 minutes.

In an interview with a Spanish radio station last month, Francis called Merkel, who ruled Germany for 16 years, “one of the greatest political figures in the world”.

Before seeing the Pope, she met German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner and others in the new offices of the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Sexual Abuse Prevention Program.

On Wednesday, the Pope expressed his shame following a major investigation in France which found that French clergy had abused more than 200,000 children over the age of 70. Read more

Several investigations carried out in Germany in recent years have also revealed widespread abuses.

“The truth must come out,” Merkel said after meeting the Pope.

The Vatican said in a statement that Merkel and the Pope also discussed migration and the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the end of the private part of the audience, Francis and Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, exchanged gifts.

Francis, 84, gave Merkel copies of some of her writings and a miniature reproduction of one of the bronze doors in St. Peter’s Basilica and she gave him a three-volume collection on the gospels and a book on Michelangelo.

Merkel, 67, whose conservatives lost the September 26 elections to center-left Social Democrats, then met Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the former head of the Germany-based European Central Bank.

Reporting by Philip Pullella Editing by Gareth Jones and Alison Williams

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