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Pope Francis calls for peace and dignity for the poor at UN

Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations in his native Spanish, calling for a unified global response to environmental destruction, social and economic injustice and violent conflict in the Middle East. Hari Sreenivasan reports on the pope’s visit to New York.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Pope Francis delivered a strong and sweeping call today for action to address climate change, making the case before a global summit in Paris this November.

    It was part of a wide-ranging speech that took sharp aim at materialism and warned of further suffering for the poorest citizens.

    Hari Sreenivasan has the story from New York City.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Fresh from two days in Washington, the pope moved to a global audience, the 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly.

  • POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter):

    We cannot permit ourselves to postpone certain agendas for the future. The future demands of us critical and global decisions in the face of worldwide conflicts.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    In his native Spanish, Francis called again for a unified response to crises, especially threats to the Earth itself.

  • POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter):

    A true right of the environment does exist. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is a harm done to humanity.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Climate change has been a recurring theme in the pontiff's first U.S. visit. And, today, he tied it to another issue that's central to his papacy, social and economic injustice.

  • POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter):

    The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, 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.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Instead, he insisted, the less fortunate must become — quote — "dignified agents of their own destiny," with basic rights to lodging, labor and land and to education for all. The pope also appealed for a safer world for all humanity, free of nuclear weapons, and he praised the nuclear agreement with Iran.

    But he lamented the failure to stop the wars in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and the resulting floods of refugees.

  • POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter):

    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.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    From the U.N., Francis traveled to Ground Zero, where he led a moment of silence for those killed in the September 11 attacks. He left a white rose on the memorial's reflecting pool that's etched with the names of those lost.

    And in the site's underground museum, he shared the stage with clerics of various faiths.

  • POPE FRANCIS (through interpreter):

    For all our differences and disagreements, we can live in a world of peace. In opposing every attempt to create a rigid uniformity, we can and must build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The pope also visited a Catholic school in East Harlem this afternoon, then motorcaded through Central Park, where up to 80,000 people looked on.

    The final stop of the day is just a couple of blocks behind me at Madison Square Garden, where the pope will celebrate mass with about 18,000 people. Tomorrow, he heads to Philadelphia to lead a summit with thousands of families and wrap up his U.S. tour.

    In New York City, I'm Hari Sreenivasan for the PBS NewsHour — Judy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Thanks, Hari.

    And you can explore all of our coverage of Pope Francis' visit online at PBS.org/NewsHour. You can also download our new app for iPhone or Android.

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