In his second day in New York, Pope Francis arrived on Friday morning at the United Nations to speak about need for peace, Europe’s refugee crisis, poverty and climate change.
Francis was welcomed early Friday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon. After a closed-door meeting, Francis gave a speech in English to around 400 UN staffers to thank them for their efforts, saying that they are “the backbone of this organisation.”
“You are a microcosm of the people which this organization represents and seeks to serve,” Francis said.
“Like so many other people worldwide, you are concerned about your children’s welfare and education. You worry about the future of the planet, and what kind of a world we will leave for future generations.”
The pope continued his speech by calling for a commitment to protect the environment. He criticised greed for power and material wealth, telling world leaders that the hunt for such things has led to wasting the world's natural resources.
"A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged," he said.
Francis also said that climate change threatened the human species, stating, “The ecological crisis and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species.”
The pope said he was confident that the Paris Conference on climate change would result in fundamental and effective agreements between nations on the issue.
He called on the world’s leaders to remember the humanity of each person in areas where geopolitical conflicts persist.
“In wars and conflicts there are individual persons, our brothers and sisters, men and women, young and old, boys and girls who weep, suffer and die. Human beings who are easily discarded when our only response is to draw up lists of problems, strategies and disagreements,” he said.
Francis also called for the complete ban of nuclear weapons, warning against arms proliferation
“There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the non-proliferation. Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons,” he said.
The pope finished his speech asking a favor from the audience.
"I bless each one of you from my heart. I will pray for you and your families. And I ask each one of you please to remember to pray for me. And if any of you are not a believer, I ask you to wish me well."
Francis stood for a moment of silence at a yellow wreath in honor of UN workers who died in service to the UN.
After his speech to the UN, Pope Francis will address the General Assembly