Vatican statement signals pope won't attend COP26 climate conference

Pope Francis holds weekly general audience
Pope Francis gestures as he speaks during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican, October 6, 2021. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

VATICAN CITY, Oct 8 (Reuters) - The Vatican said on Friday its delegation to the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow will be headed by its secretary of state, meaning Pope Francis will not be going.

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

The Vatican had never said that he would attend and a Vatican source said that Friday's announcement that the delegation would be headed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin meant the pope would not be going.

Sources have said the Vatican was surprised by the Scottish bishops' announcement on July 12, when the pope was still in hospital recovering from intestinal surgery, though Francis told a Spanish radio network last month that he would like to go.

The 84-year-old pope left hospital on July 14 and after a period of rest he resumed his full activities, including a gruelling trip to Budapest and Slovakia, and has appeared to be in very good condition.

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

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

Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Philippa Fletcher and Timothy Heritage

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