On Friday, Pope Francis will speak to the largest group of heads of state ever assembled at the UN headquarters, claimed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a New York Times report.
“His presence underlines the continued centrality of [this] institution,” said Louise Frechette, a former deputy UN secretary general, in the Times article.
Francis will speak in the General Assembly room, where he could give world leaders harsh words for failing to protect the environment and not accepting the recent waves of refugees fleeing war-torn regions, according to the Times report.
“Governments and their leaders are not easily swayed by moral appeals, even from the pope, but they do respond to their public opinion,” Frechette was quoted, adding that the pope’s emphasis on world issues could put pressure on governments to take action.
The pope’s visit on Friday will be followed on Monday by the start of the annual debate cycle when world leaders will take to the UN podium to advance their own agendas. The two sessions will see an elite lineup of the world’s most powerful leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will see Obama for the first time in nearly a year, according to the Times report.