(CNN)Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo has steered the Pontifical Academy of Sciences since 1998, but it's likely that his profile has never been more robustly public than now.
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For the past year, Sanchez Sorondo has teamed with scientists and political leaders to help research, promote and defend Pope Francis' stern and sweeping condemnation of current environmental and economic trends.
Most recently, the archbishop, who, like Francis, hails from Buenos Aires, convened a conference of more than 60 mayors and other local politicians this week at the Vatican.
Sanchez Sorondo spoke with CNN on Friday about the controversy swirling around the Pope's economic and environmental statements, how Francis will likely recalibrate his message this September when he visits in the United States and the leak of the pontiff's environmental statement this summer.
Some of the archbishop's answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Some people might be surprised to hear that the Vatican has a science academy. What is your mission?
A: Yes, that's true, people are often surprised to hear about us. You can see a lot about our mission on our website, but the basic idea is that the church believes that understanding human beings and the Earth requires not only faith but also reason, and not only philosophical reason but also scientific reason.
Q: You just hosted a major conference at the Vatican for mayors and other political leaders around the world. What was the conference's main accomplishment?
A: Part of it was, as the Pope said in his address to the group, to bring awareness that climate change and human trafficking -- a new form of slavery -- are human emergencies.
Some attendees, like California Gov. Jerry Brown, spoke very passionately about protecting the environment. Others, like many mayors in Italy, have more awareness of a new form of slavery, so it was important for them to be able to learn from each other.
Q. It seems like the Vatican is partnering with quite a few people -- the Jewish feminist Naomi Klein, for example -- that would not be seen as traditional church allies. What is the strategy behind that?
A: We understand that in this globalized world we all need to work together. As the Pope says in his encyclical, "Laudato Si," the Earth is our common home.
And as we move towards setting new (United Nations') sustainable development goals, we also un