VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Nations of the world must work together to solve the key global crises of migration and climate change, which are questions of justice that can no longer be ignored, Pope Francis told diplomats.

“In the development of a global consensus capable of responding to these ethical challenges facing our human family, your work as diplomats is of paramount importance,” he said.

The pope’s comments came May 21 in a speech to new ambassadors to the Vatican from Singapore, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Barbados, Sweden, Finland and Nepal.

Speaking to the group of diplomats, the pope recognized the difficulties involved in traveling during the ongoing pandemic and thanked them for being able to attend the meeting in person.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made people more aware of how interdependent everyone is and of “our need to be attentive to the poor and the vulnerable in our midst,” the pope said.

Countries need to take concrete and courageous steps to develop a global “culture of care,” he said, “that can inspire new relationships and structures of cooperation in the service of solidarity, respect for human dignity, mutual assistance and social justice.”

However, the pandemic also has shown how the international community is finding it increasingly difficult or is unable to look for shared solutions to the world’s problems, he said.

The most urgent global issues, he said, include “migration and climate change, as well as the humanitarian crises that they often bring in their wake.”

Other serious concerns, he said, include the economic debt that burdens many countries still “struggling to survive and the ‘ecological debt’ that we owe to nature itself, as well as to peoples and countries affected by human-induced ecological degradation and loss of biodiversity.”

“These issues are not simply political or economic — they are questions of justice, a justice that can no longer be ignored or deferred,” Pope Francis said. “Indeed, they entail a moral obligation toward future generations, for the seriousness with which we respond to them will shape the world we leave to our children.”

The work of diplomats is of utmost importance in helping build “a global consensus” responding to these challenges, he said, emphasizing the Vatican’s support of every effort aimed at building a world “in which the human person is at the center, finance is at the service of an integral development, and the earth, our common home, is protected and cared for.”