It was announced today that, sponsored by the UN Conference on Climate Change, and accompanied by Swedish teenager and candidate for canonisation, Greta Thunberg, Pope Francis will be travelling to the forthcoming Amazon Synod on a raft made entirely of recyclable and renewable balsa wood.

The raft, powered entirely by solar panels, will be propelled by two sails made of a fabric specially woven from bamboo-fibre. The Holy Father will be accompanied, on this voyage (the first of its kind by a reigning Pontiff) by a small crew of senior Vatican officials including Cardinals Coppopalmerio and Maradiaga (as chief cook and bottle-washer respectively).

The crossing from Civitavecchia is estimated to take twenty-six months, during which time there will be no opportunity for press interviews. The date of the synod will be adjusted according to the time of arrival. The voyage will add nothing to current carbon emissions.

Inevitably this bold initiative has come in for criticism. ‘A cheap stunt takes nothing away from the damage done by the carbon footprint of a Synod drawing bishops from all parts of the world to a conference in the heart of the rain forest,’ said a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth.

Said Fr Antonio Spadaro: ‘With only ten years to save the planet, a dramatic, meaningless gesture like this was just what we needed.’

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