VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis asked Scotland's Catholics on Thursday to pray for the success of the UN Climate Change (COP26) conference in Glasgow because "time is running out" to save the planet.
In the letter, Francis said he regretted that he could not attend the opening of the conference as he had originally hoped, but asked all to join in prayer for a fruitful outcome.
"This gathering (is) meant to address one of the great moral issues of our time: the preservation of God's creation, given to us as a garden to be cultivated and as a common home for our human family," he said in the letter released by the Vatican.
He implored "wisdom and strength" on the participants so that they keep future generations in mind.
"Time is running out; this occasion must not be wasted, lest we have to face God's judgement for our failure to be faithful stewards of the world he has entrusted to our care," he said.
In a formal message to the conference read on his behalf on Nov. 2, Francis said the twin wounds inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change were comparable to those caused by a global conflict and should be confronted in the same way.
The 84-year-old pope, who has made protection of the environment a cornerstone of his pontificate, had said several times that he hoped to attend COP26, but the Vatican announced on Oct. 8 that Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin would head its delegation. It gave no explanation.