VATICAN CITY — The Vatican challenged countries gathered for the 24th U.N. Climate Change Conference to focus on the needs of the present and the future as it worked to take swift action. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, addressed the conference, COP24, in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3 and told participants, “We are standing before a challenge of civilization for the benefit of the common good.” “The Katowice meeting has the fundamental task of developing the Paris Agreement Work Program. This document should be a solid set of guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms, aimed at facilitating a fair and efficient implementation of the agreement, particularly at the national level,” the cardinal said, adding, “We are all aware how difficult this endeavor is.” “We know what we can do, and what we have to do becomes an ethical imperative,” he told conference participants. The cardinal said COP24’s guidelines should have “a clear ethical foundation,” including “advancing the dignity of the human person, alleviating poverty and promoting integral human development,” with “transparent, efficient and dynamic” measures. “It is still possible to limit global warming, but to do so will require a clear, forward-looking and strong political will to promote as quickly as possible the process of transitioning to a model of development that is free from those technologies and behaviors that influence the over-production of greenhouse gas emissions,” Cardinal Parolin said. Speaking at a Dec. 3 news conference, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said commitment to combat climate change was “felt in all religions,” and he praised the “very positive position” of Pope Francis on the issue.