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Day: July 21, 2015

Pope to mayors: put environment and human trafficking at top of your agenda

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged mayors from big cities to direct their efforts towards the care for the environment and the fight against human trafficking. 
The Pope was speaking to some 70 mayors from around the world who are in the Vatican for a two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organized by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : 

Telling those present he has “a lot of hope” that negotiators at Paris climate talks will reach an ambitious agreement to reduce global warming, Pope Francis said he places great trust in the United Nations to bring about a good agreement.
But – he stressed – he also wants U.N. nations to prioritize fighting both human trafficking and the exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable people.
And referring to his recently published encyclical “Laudato Si’”, Pope Francis made it quite clear that the document is not an encyclical on the environment.
It’s a social encyclical – he explained –  because the state of the environment is directly and intimately linked to the life and wellbeing of humankind.
And this is not the only connection Pope Francis made in his off-the-cuff greeting in which he chose to speak in his native Spanish.
He said huge migratory waves of peoples across the globe are triggered by environmental issues such as desertification and deforestation which leave people and entire communities without the possibility of seeking a livelihood.
Thus – he said – the exodus that takes them into urban centers gives life to human trafficking which brings with it diverse forms of exploitation (be it economical or sexual) of women, children and vulnerable people.      
Pope Francis concluded his address with a series of quotes and references to theologian Romano Guardini and his theology of the human person.
And he issued a strong call to all the Mayors present at the event to be aware of these problems and to seek solutions working – he said – from the peripheries towards the center.
(from Vatican Radio)…

New Orleans Mayor: Pope’s US visit will be transformational

(Vatican Radio)  The Mayor of New Orleans on Tuesday (July 21st) hailed Pope Francis’ words and actions on climate change and said he believes the upcoming papal visit to the U.S. will be transformational and in particular his address to Congress will be “very challenging.”  Mayor Mitch Landrieu was among the participants at a 2-day workshop of mayors from around the world who came to the Vatican to discuss the issues of climate change and human trafficking. Most of New Orleans is under the sea level and 10 years ago the U.S. city suffered devastating flooding when it was hit by Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Landrieu was interviewed by Susy Hodges.
Listen to the interview with the Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu: 

Another major storm coming to New Orleans
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the disastrous flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina to the city of New Orleans and Mayor Landrieu said the experience of that catastrophic event has prompted them not just to reinforce their coastal protection measures and levy system but to learn how to become a “more resilient city” in general.  He said the evidence of climate change is clear and in his view there’s no question that “another major storm is coming” (in the future) to New Orleans.
Pope’s U.S. visit will be “transformational”
Asked about Pope Francis’ influence on issues like climate change and human trafficking, Mayor Landrieu praised his recent encyclical on the environment and the Pope’s strong voice and initiatives on these issues that remind us that they have a particularly negative impact on the lives of the poor.  The mayor said he believes that Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in late September will be “transformational” and that his scheduled address to the U.S. Congress will be “very challenging” on issues like climate change.  But, he added, “we need to be challenged” on these issues.  
(from Vatican Radio)…

Global Mayors, Governors at Vatican summit on climate change, human trafficking

(Vatican Radio)  Ways to combat climate change and its effects on society’s most vulnerable:  some sixty mayors and local administrators from around the world are brainstorming on that topic in  the Vatican Tuesday and Wednesday.  Pope Francis is expected to greet them in an audience Tuesday evening.
In his recently released environment encyclical Laudato Si,’ the Pope said caring for the Earth is an urgent moral imperative and that fossil fuel-based global warming puts the poor most at risk. Urban centers are considered some of the biggest contributors to climate change.
Hailing from cities in North and South America, Europe and from developing nations like India and Gabon, many of the officials are committed to environmentally friendly policies aimed at bringing down the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. 
The two day Vatican climate conference comes ahead of the Paris COP-21 climate negotiations in December. Click here to see the YouTube coverage of the events.
In presenting this week’s meeting, the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences said “global warming is one of the causes of poverty and forced migrations, and it favours human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and organ trafficking.” 
Mayors and Local Administrators at the Vatican summit are expected to urge global leaders to take bold action to curb global warming, and to press for approval of the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals this fall.
Speaking to participants Tuesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his city’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a further 40 percent over the next fifteen years.  He described Pope Francis’ as “the most powerful voice on this earth for those whose voice is not being heard…he did not convene us here to accept the status quo but to indict it.”
Speaking of the fast-approaching Paris climate summit, de Blasio added, “we need to see it as the finish line of a sprint, and take every local action we can in the coming months to maximize the chance that our national governments will act boldly.”
Governor Jerry Brown, whose state of California has enacted some of the most stringent carbon emissions policies in the U.S., decried “powerful” opposition groups at home which deny global warming and “spend billions on trying to keep from office” people who believe scientific evidence proves the phenomenon exists.
(from Vatican Radio)…

Intervention of the Holy See to the UN – Protect the rights of the elderly

New York, 16 July
2015 Mr. Chair, The Holy See is pleased to
participate in the 6th Session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing and
would like to applaud your leadership and thank you for your unwavering
commitment as the Chair of this Open-Ended Working Group since its first
session in 2011. I wish to assure you that my
delegation remains committed to the promotion and protection of the human
rights and inherent dignity of the elderly, and to the elimination of all forms
of discrimination based on age. This discussion is especially pertinent in a
time when the elderly are abandoned, not only in material instability, but are
also made to feel a burden to society. As Pope Francis affirmed, “it’s brutal
to see how the elderly are thrown away… No one dares to say it openly, but it’s
done!” (Pope Francis. “The Family, 6. The Elderly.” General Audience.
Saint Peter’s Square, Rome. March 4th, 2015). In the West, data tell us that
the current century is the aging century: children are diminishing, the elderly
are increasing. Currently 700 million people, or 10 per cent of the world’s
population, are above 60 years of age. By 2050, it is estimated that this
number will double, reaching 20 per cent of the global population (Report of
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (E/2012/51), 2012 ). This
increasing imbalance is a great challenge for contemporary society. For
example, this puts increased pressure on healthcare and social protection
systems. Given these figures, my delegation would like to draw particular
attention to the needs of elderly women who are often excluded or neglected. Therefore, as the number of older
people increases along with the rise in average life expectancy, it will become
increasingly important to promote an attitude of acceptance and appreciation of
the elderly and to integrate them better in society. My delegation would like
to reiterate that the ideal is still for the elderly to remain within the
family, with the guarantee of effective social assistance for the greater needs
which age or illness entail. Mr. Chair, Reflecting on previous sessions,
it is evident that there are concerns about the serious gaps that exist in
protecting the rights of the elderly, and that there is no agreement yet on how
to address them. Some have spoken of establishing new mechanisms similar to the
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; others have underlined
the need to make good on the commitments that States have already made on this
matter; still others think that the Madrid International Plan for Action on
Ageing already contains the measures we have to adopt to protect the rights of
the elderly. In order to guarantee that the
human rights system is effective and commitments are fulfilled, we must
recognize that an approach based only on respect for human rights will not be
sufficient unless it is complimented by policies and programs that address the
underlying causes of the violations it wishes to prevent. In this regard, it is crucial
that we promote policies and systems of education that propose an alternative
approach to the dominant “throw-away culture” that judges human beings simply
by what they produce. So often, the elderly feel useless and alone because they
have lost their proper place in society. Though it is important to
reaffirm the right of the elderly to work or to receive relevant skills
training, we must be careful that the policies we promote do not play into the
same tired narrative that reduces our value as human beings to what we produce,
while ignoring our inherent dignity and the countless other ways in which the
most vulnerable among us contribute to society’s greater good. The elderly are
a resource and essential point of reference in an age when many struggle to
find their identity and have lost hope. Their collective memory and wealth of
experience support and guide society, providing direction and especially hope
to future generations that must not face the struggles of life alone. This understanding of the value
of ageing and contribution of the elderly to our society is one of the most
important antidotes to the tendency to reduce the elderly to purely utilitarian
terms. This is the only way to work toward a world that freely and fully
respects the rights of its elders. Thank you, Mr. Chair….