Message of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the occasion of the Day of the Protection of the Environment (2018)

The Patriarch Bartholomew in the message underlines: ‘It is impossible to truly care for human beings while at the same time destroying the natural environment as the very foundation of life, essentially undermining the future of humanity.

In reflecting on the ways how to avoid future calamities, he continues: ‘The future does not belong to humanity, when it persistently pursues artificial pleasure and novel satisfaction—living in selfish and provocative wastefulness while ignoring others, or unjustly exploiting the vulnerable. The future belongs to righteous justice and compassionate love, to a culture of solidarity and respect for the integrity of creation.

In particular, in outlining the need to react to this situation and to transform our approach to the world around he emphasizes: ‘Every form of abuse and destruction of creation, along with its transformation into an object of exploitation, constitutes a distortion of the spirit of the Christian gospel.

In turning the attention to the role of the church and the role of Christians in facing these challenges, he points out: ‘It is clear, then, that in order to contribute and respond effectively to the ecological challenge that we face, the Church recognize and research the relevant issues. We all know that the greatest threat to our world today is climate change and its destructive consequences even for our survival on the planet.’ 

Specific and concrete action in addressing ecological challenges is an inevitable task for church communities. In highlighting this aspect of Christian life and ethos, the message underlines: ‘The burning issue of climate change, along with its causes and consequences for our planet and everyday life, offer an opportunity to engage in dialogue based on principles of theological ecology, but also an occasion for specific practical endeavors.’

Actions of churches at the local level are of paramount importance. ‘It is vitally important that you emphasize action at the local level. The parish constitutes the cell of church life as the place of personal presence and witness, communication and collaboration—a living community of worship and service,’ concludes the Patriarch.

The text of the whole message is available here.