VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis encouraged Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg on Wednesday to continue her campaign to fight climate change, during a brief meeting at the end of his weekly general audience.
Thunberg arrived late and took her seat in the VIP section in St. Peter’s Square, ducking down to not cause any commotion as the pope spoke. Francis later approached her and she showed off her sign, “Join the climate strike.”
“Continue, continue,” Francis told her. “Go on, go ahead.”
Thunberg told Francis: “Thank you for standing up for the climate, for speaking the truth. It means a lot.”
Thunberg was in Rome to headline Friday’s “school strike,” the growing worldwide youth movement she spearheaded, demanding faster action against climate change. Thunberg will also address the Italian parliament.
In Francis, Thunberg has found a kindered spirit. The Jesuit pope has made fighting climate change and caring for God’s creation a pillar of his papacy. He wrote an entire encyclical about it, blaming a thirst for money for turning the Earth into a wasteland and demanding immediate action to curb global warming.
Thunberg’s father, Svante Thunberg, told the pope: “Thank you so much for what you are doing. It means everything. Everything.”