By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -Pope Francis will attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November, health permitting, Scotland’s Roman Catholic bishops said on Monday.
The bishops confirmed the pope’s presence among other world leaders in a statement on their website.
“Having written to the Holy Father to assure him of a warm welcome, should he attend the conference, they are delighted to hear that he does hope to attend and would be glad to meet with them in Glasgow,” a statement said.
Francis is in a Rome hospital recovering from colon surgery and will remain there for a few more days, the Vatican said on Monday. He is expected to resume normal activity in August.
The Scottish bishops said the pope “will be in Scotland for a very short time, most of which will be spent participating in the COP26 Conference.”
On Oct. 4, the Vatican will host a major gathering of world religious leaders and scientists to take a common stand to raise the stakes ahead of the conference.
The Vatican has not yet officially announced the pope’s trip to Scotland.
Francis strongly supports the goals of the 2015 U.N. Paris accord to reduce global warming. In 2015, he wrote an encyclical on the need to protect the environment, reduce wasteful lifestyles, stem global warming and protect the poor from the most devastating effects of climate change.
The Oct. 4 conference, called “Faith and Science: Towards COP26,” is being organised by Britain and Italy. It will bring together some 40 leaders from the world’s major religions and 10 scientists. The pope is expected to attend.
The pope criticised former U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Paris accord to limit global warming. The Vatican welcomed President Joe Biden’s return to the accord.
Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry met Francis in May and said he hoped the pope would attend COP26 because the pontiff has the moral authority to sway public opinion about climate change.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Alistair Bell)