Pope throws weight behind Iran nuclear deal in historic address

The agreement ‘is proof of the potential of political goodwill, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy,’ Francis said

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Pope Francis on Friday threw his support behind Iran’s accord with major powers as he backed a goal of global abolition of nuclear weapons.

The Iran agreement “is proof of the potential of political goodwill, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy,” Francis said in an address to the United Nations.

“I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved,” he said.

Francis made his remarks a day after a friendly welcome at the U.S. Congress, where many Republican lawmakers have vehemently criticized President Barack Obama for negotiating with Iran, an enemy of the United States and Israel since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Francis also declared that there is a “right of the environment” and that humankind has no authority to abuse or destroy it.

Hoping to spur concrete action at upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris, Francis accused the world’s powerful countries of a “selfish and boundless thirst” for money. He says that has led them to destroy the planet and impoverish the weak and disadvantaged.

Francis also appealed anew for the protection of Christians and other people persecuted by extremists in Syria and Iraq.
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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Pope Francis has made papal history by addressing the largest array of world leaders ever at the United Nations.

The U.N. chief thanked the pope for demonstrating again his “remarkable global stature as a man of faith for all faiths.”

The gathering that starts shortly after the pope’s speech is bringing a record 154 heads of state or government to the U.N. It’s to launch an ambitious set of global development goals.

World leaders and diplomats filled the General Assembly chamber to hear the pope address representatives from its 193-member nations. Joining them were Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousefzai, the Pakistani education campaigner.