Every time Pope Francis becomes more involved with international politics, he gains even more acclaim. The reopening of Cuba and the United States' embassies in their respective countries was directly linked to the Pope, though he has downplayed his role.
Now, Pope Francis has inserted himself into the fight to address climate change. And he's brought an even more bold strategy. His goal is to influence the upcoming climate change summit in Paris. "Laudato Si” was the opening move, and a Vatican conference with some of the world's most important mayors was the next step.
JUAN CARLOS VILLALONGA
President, Agency of Environmental Protection (Argentina)
"In recent years the cities have become a dynamic part of the discussion about climate change. And there is a reason for this. When a city suffers flooding due to more severe storms, the flooded resident will not complain to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) or the United Nations for the delay in negotiations. The resident will seek answers from the local government.”
In addition to addressing climate change, the conference also dealt with the difficult issue of human trafficking. He said the two are interlocked, because people become susceptible to exploitation when environmental problems make them more vulnerable.
July 21, 2015
"There is a relationship of mutual incidence between the environment and the person and how the person treats the environment.”
In order to influence the powerful, Pope Francis is using an unusual method: he is giving a voice to people who have been marginalized by human trafficking and climate change, along with those who directly represent them.
Mayor of Villa Maria (Argentina)
"We believe it's necessary for the U.N. to fundamentally determine that human trafficking is a crime against humanity and they are resisting that.”
Popular Movements (Spain)
"There are real barriers that we must identify and overcome. If we don't work on the local level, it doesn't make sense on the universal level. And if we don't have that universal dimension, the local work is restricted.”
One of the most powerful moments from Pope Francis' trip to Latin America was his meeting with extremely poor people. He delivered one of his most powerful social speeches to them and again made the world focus on the most excluded. The question that remains to be seen is whether powerful leaders will embrace this way of doing politics.