By Courtney Mares
Pope Francis met with U.S. President Joe Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry on Monday in what was Kerry’s fourth official private meeting with the pope.
The 79-year-old American politician was the first government official to have a private audience at the Vatican with Pope Francis since his release from the hospital.
Kerry is in Europe this week to participate in French President Emmanuel Macron’s Summit for a New Global Financing Pact and the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Funds’ Annual CEO Summit in Paris, according to the U.S. State Department.
At the time of publication, the Vatican had released no information about what the two men discussed, in line with its usual custom for papal meetings with non-heads of state. It noted the audience in its daily bulletin and released photographs of the meeting.
Kerry told Reuters that he found Pope Francis to be “in great spirits and in great form” following the pope’s nine-day stay in the hospital to recover from surgery to repair an incisional hernia.
“I found the pope to be very much the pope that I have had the privilege of seeing several times over the last years. He was strong. He was clear. He seemed in very good form and good spirits,” he said.
Kerry, a baptized Catholic, previously met Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2014 and 2016, when he served as U.S. Secretary of State during the Obama administration, and in 2021 ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.
The U.S. special presidential envoy for climate called Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ on care for our common home a “major and important turning point” and thanked the pope for continuing “to sound the alarm” about climate change.
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly joined Kerry for the Vatican meeting, which also included a meeting with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on June 19.
After Kerry’s meeting with Italian and Vatican officials in Rome, the climate envoy will travel to Brussels to participate in a panel discussion titled “Climate and Security — the New Nexus” with representatives from the European Union and NATO.