[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] The 5 Most Important Points of Pope Francis’s Climate Change Encyclical / Patriarch Bartholomew’s Efforts on Environmental Issues by Comparison - Orthodox Christian Laity

The 5 Most Important Points of Pope Francis’s Climate Change Encyclical / Patriarch Bartholomew’s Efforts on Environmental Issues by Comparison

Pope Francis on June 13, 2015 in Vatican City.

Pope Francis on June 13, 2015 in Vatican City.

Source: Time

by Christopher J. Hale

Christopher Hale is executive director at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial.

We can and must make things better

Pope Francis’s groundbreaking encyclical letter on care for creation made its anticipated debut Thursday morning, and once again, the Bishop of Rome has delivered a masterpiece. The document will play a key role in United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference this November and will be a pivotal point of debate as the 2016 presidential campaign heats up here at home. So what exactly does the pope address in this letter? Here are the top five points in what Francis describes as a “dialogue with all people about our common home.”

1. Climate change is real, and it’s getting worse. Though some politicians in the U.S. still argue about the reality of the climate change, Pope Francis doesn’t mince words: “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day,” he says. “If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.”

2. Human beings are a major contributor to climate change.While many agree that climate change is real, some believe that human beings don’t contribute to it. The science suggests otherwise, and Pope Francis—a trained chemist—says human beings do have an effect on the Earth: “We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.”

3. Climate change disproportionately affects the poor. Climate change’s worst impact, Pope Francis says, “will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry.” This environmental inequality creates a strange economic phenomenon: Poor countries are often financially indebted to rich countries. The world has what Pope Francis calls a “social debt towards the poor … because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.”

4. We can and must make things better. Some of those who study climate change believe this process to be irreversible, too far gone. But Francis—whose first major letter was entitled Joy of the Gospel—says he doesn’t believe we should be robbed of hope. “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start”

5. Individuals can help, but politicians must lead the charge.Francis argues that personal responsibility is an important step toward reversing climate change, but that political and structural transformations are needed for lasting change. “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies.”

Some politicians argue that Pope Francis and the Catholic Church should stay out of climate change debates and “leave science to the scientists.” But Francis and the church know that protecting creation is first and foremost a moral and religious issue. It’s a response to God’s ancient request that we preserve, protect, and sustain creation. Francis has said before that he hopes today’s politicians will take this responsibility to heart as they address one of the most important issues of our times: “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!”

The Green Patriarch

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Source: Ecumenical Patriarchate

By John Chryssavgis

No other church leader has been so recognized for his leadership and initiatives in confronting the theological, ethical and practical imperative of environmental issues in our time as the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. He has long placed the environment at the head of his church’s agenda, earning him numerous awards and the title ‘Green Patriarch’. This paper describes the work of Patriarch Bartholomew for the protection of the natural environment, and especially for significant water bodies of the planet. This work has been done first in his own church, and subsequently in the wider society through international, inter-religious, and interdisciplinary gatherings that have gained the attention of policymakers and the mass media. The paper contains various insights into the Orthodox Christian worldview that direct the vision and activities of the Patriarch.

1. Introduction

In the past decade, the world has witnessed alarming environmental degradation – with climate change, the loss of biodiversity and the pollution of natural resources – and the widening gap between rich and poor, as well as increasing failure to implement environmental policies. During the same decade, one religious leader has discerned the signs of the times and called people’s attention to this ecological and social situation. The worldwide leader of the Orthodox Churches, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has persistently proclaimed the primacy of spiritual values in determining environmental ethics and action [1]. No other church leader has been so recognized for his leadership and initiatives in confronting the theological, ethical and practical imperative of environmental issues in our time as the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. He has long placed the environment at the head of his church’s agenda.

2. The ‘Green Patriarch’

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was born Demetrios (Archontonis) on 29 February 1940, in a small village on the island of Imvros, Turkey. Greek residents of Imvros are traditionally known for their profound faith and spiritual values. His theological training also attracted the young Demetrios to move beyond the library and to breathe the air of the oikoumene, the breadth of the universe of theological communication and ecclesiastical reconciliation. In later years, he would see a similar connection between church and environment:

For us at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the term ecumenical is more than a name: it is a worldview, and a way of life. The Lord intervenes and fills His creation with His divine presence in a continuous bond. Let us work together and love one another so that we may renew the harmony between heaven and earth, so that we may transform every detail and every element of life. Let us love one another. [2]

In October 1991, Bartholomew was elected Ecumenical Patriarch, the most senior of Orthodox bishops throughout the world, ‘first among equals’ among all Orthodox Patriarchs and Primates. From that moment, and indeed from his enthronement speech, Patriarch Bartholomew outlined the dimensions of his vision, which included vigilance in theological education, strengthening of Orthodox unity and ecumenical engagements, continuation of inter-religious dialogue for peaceful coexistence, and initiatives for the protection of the environment [3].

3. Initiatives and activities

The environmental initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate date back to the mid-1980s with the third session of the Pre-Synodal Pan-Orthodox Conference held in Chambésy (28 October–6 November 1986). Representatives at this meeting expressed concern for the abuse of the natural environment, especially in affluent western societies. The meeting also underlined the harm of war, racism and inequality on human societies and the environment. The emphasis was on leaving a better world for future generations [4].

Several Inter-Orthodox meetings followed on the subject of ‘Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation’ and attended by Orthodox representatives. The first of three consultations was held in Sofia, Bulgaria (1987) [5]. A third Inter-Orthodox consultation was held in Minsk, Belarus (1989) [6], while an environmental program was also piloted in Ormylia, Greece (1990) [7].

The second of these consultations, was held in Patmos, Greece (1988), to mark the 900th anniversary of the historic Monastery of St John the Theologian. The then Ecumenical Patriarch, Demetrios, assigned Metropolitan John of Pergamon as Patriarchal representative to this conference entitled ‘Revelation and the Future of Humanity’ and organized jointly by the Patriarchate and the Greek Ministry of Cultural Affairs in cooperation with the local civil authorities. One of the primary recommendations of this conference was that the Ecumenical Patriarchate should designate one day each year for the protection of the natural environment. This conference proved a catalyst for subsequent Patriarchal initiatives on the environment [7].

In 1989, Patriarch Demetrios, the immediate predecessor of Patriarch Bartholomew, who was his closest adviser, published the first encyclical letter on the environment [8]. Demetrios was known for his meekness, and so it was fitting that during his tenure the worldwide Orthodox Church was invited to dedicate a day of prayer for the protection of the environment, which human beings have treated so harshly. This encyclical, proclaimed on the occasion of the first day of the new ecclesiastical calendar, formally established 1 September as a day for all Orthodox Christians within the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to offer prayers for the preservation of the natural creation. A similar encyclical is published annually on the first day of September [9].

In 1990, the foremost hymnographer on Mount Athos, Monk Gerasimos Mikrayiannanites, was commissioned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to compose a service of supplication for the environment [10]. The Orthodox Church has traditionally prayed for the environment. Whereas, however, in the past, Orthodox faithful prayed to be delivered from natural calamities, the Ecumenical Patriarch now called Orthodox Christians to pray that the planet may be delivered from the abusive and destructive acts of human beings.

A month after his election in 1991, the Ecumenical Patriarch convened an ecological gathering entitled ‘Living in the Creation of the Lord’. That convention on the island of Crete was officially opened by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and International Chairman of the WWF [11]. In the following year, Patriarch Bartholomew called an unprecedented meeting of all Orthodox Patriarchs and Primates at the Phanar [12], submitting an historical expression of unity in theological vision and pastoral concern. The Ecumenical Patriarch again introduced the topic of the protection of the natural environment, inviting all the Orthodox leaders to inform their churches about the critical significance of this issue for our times. The official Message of the Orthodox Primates endorsed 1 September as a day of pan-Orthodox prayer for the environment.

4. Seminars and symposia

In the summer of 1992, the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Phanar for an environmental convocation at the Theological School of Halki [13]. In November 1993, the Ecumenical Patriarch returned the visit, meeting with the Duke at Buckingham Palace where they sealed a friendship of common purpose and active cooperation for the preservation of the environment [14]. In April 1994, the Ecumenical Patriarch was invited to the administrative offices of the European Commission. It was the first time that someone who was not a state or political leader had been asked to address the Commission [15]. In October 1997, the Patriarch was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal during his visit to the United States [16].

In June 1994, an ecological seminar was convened at the historic Theological School of Halki, the first of five successive annual summer seminars on diverse aspects of the environment ‘Environment and Religious Education’ (June 1994), [16], ‘Environment and Ethics’ (June 1995) [17], ‘Environment and Communications’ (July 1996) [18], ‘Environment and Justice’ (June 1997) [19], and ‘Environment and Poverty’ (June 1998) [20]. These seminars, the first held at such a level in any Orthodox Church context, were designed to promote environmental awareness and action, engaging leading theologians, environmentalists, scientists, civil servants and especially students. Participants from all over the world represented the major Christian confessions and world religions.

In October 1994, the University of the Aegean conferred an honorary doctoral degree on Patriarch Bartholomew, the first of a series of awards and honorary degrees presented to the Patriarch in recognition of his efforts and initiatives for the environment [21]. The University of Thessalonika bestowed a similar honour on the Patriarch in 1997 [22]. In November 2000, the New York-based organization Scenic Hudson, presented the Ecumenical Patriarch with the first international Visionary Award for Environmental Achievement [23]. In 2002, Patriarch Bartholomew was the recipient of the Sophie Prize in Norway and the Binding Environmental Prize in Liechtenstein, each presented to an individual or organization that has pioneered environmental awareness and action [24].

Convinced that any appreciation of the environmental concerns of our times must occur in dialogue with other Christian confessions, other religious faiths, as well as scientific disciplines, in 1994 Patriarch Bartholomew established the Religious and Scientific Committee. As we share the earth, so do we share the responsibility for our pollution of the earth and the obligation to find tangible ways of healing the natural environment. This ecumenical and inter-disciplinary committee is chaired by Metropolitan John of Pergamon, formerly a visiting professor of theology at King’s College, London, and currently a professor in the University of Thessalonika [25].

To date, the Religious and Scientific Committee has hosted six international, interdisciplinary and inter-religious symposia to reflect on the fate of the rivers and seas, and to force the pace of religious debate on the natural environment. These symposia have gathered leading scientists, environmentalists and journalists as well as senior policymakers and representatives of the world’s main religious faiths in an effort to draw global attention to the plight of the Aegean Sea, the Black Sea, the Danube River, the Baltic Sea, the Adriatic Sea, and the Amazon River. Participants meet in plenary, workshop and briefing sessions, hearing a variety of speakers on various environmental and ethical themes. Delegates also visit key environmental sites in the particular region of the symposium.

Symposium I: Revelation and the Environment convened in September 1995 under the joint auspices of Patriarch Bartholomew and Prince Philip on the occasion of the 1900th anniversary of St John’s Book of Revelation, the Apocalypse. This portrays the chaos of sin, the destructive impact of humanity on the earth and the seas with vivid language. The sense of crisis and the call for repentance permeate the book. Travelling on ship through the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, participants identified the pollution of the world’s waters as a threat to the survival of the planet and recommended the creation of a common language for scientific and theological thought to overcome centuries of estrangement and misunderstanding between science and faith. In his opening address during the first symposium, Patriarch Bartholomew noted: ‘The earth has been hurt’ (Rev. 7.3) … Conscious of the threat of nuclear destruction and environmental pollution, we shall move toward one world or none. [26]

Symposium II: The Black Sea in Crisis was held in September 1997 under the joint auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarch and HE Jacques Santer, President of the European Commission. This symposium undertook a concrete case study, visiting the countries that surround the Black Sea and engaging in conversation with local religious leaders and environmental activists, as well as regional scientists and politicians [27].

A direct result of this symposium, the Halki Ecological Institute was organized in June 1999 to promote wider regional collaboration and education among some 75 clergy and theologians, educators and students, as well as scientists and journalists. This educational initiative marked a new direction in the inter-disciplinary vision and dialogue for the environment, implementing the ecological principles of the Religious and Scientific Committee and turning theory into practice. The Institute simultaneously conducted the Black Sea Environmental Journalists Workshop for around 20 print, radio and television journalists from the six Black Sea nations [28].

Symposium III: ‘River of Life’ – Down the Danube to the Black Sea was launched in October 1999, under the joint auspices of Patriarch Bartholomew and HE Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission. Participants traveled the length of the Danube River, from Passau, Germany, to the delta of the Black Sea in the Ukraine. In the aftermath of the military and ethnic conflict in the Former Yugoslavia, the challenge of restoring the waters and natural environment along the Danube River became all the more critical. Symposium III also focused on the ecological impact of war, urban development, industrialization, shipping and agriculture [29].

Symposium IV: The Adriatic Sea – a Sea at Risk, a Unity of Purpose addressed the ethical aspects of the environmental crisis. Held in June 2002, under the joint auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarch and HE Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, this symposium opened in Durres, Albania, and concluded in Venice, Italy. Emphasis was on the need to cultivate particular ecological principles and values among peoples in affluent countries and advanced economies as well as among peoples of recovering countries and transitional economies [30].

The closing ceremony was held on 10 June 2002, in the Palazzo Ducale, where Patriarch Bartholomew co-signed a document of environmental ethics with Pope John Paul II via satellite link-up. The ‘Venice Declaration’ is the first joint text of the two leaders on ecological issues and emphasizes the protection of the environment as the moral and spiritual duty of all people for the sake of future generations [31].

Symposium V: The Baltic Sea – A Common Heritage, A Shared Responsibility was organized in June 2003, moving from Gdansk, through Kaliningrad, Tallinn and Helsinki, and concluding in Stockholm. The Baltic Sea borders on and is polluted by nine countries with widely disparate resources, economies, as well as social structures, and religious faiths. The end of the Cold War has permitted the renewal of political, economic, social, cultural and religious ties between this region and countries comprising the European Union, and the wider world.

Organized under the patronage of the Ecumenical Patriarch and HE Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, the symposium sought to draw lessons from the Baltic – its diversity, problems and history – in order to illustrate the challenges faced by humanity in that region and more widely. The direct result of this symposium was the North Sea Conference, co-sponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Norway [32].

Symposium VI: The Amazon: Source of Life was held in July 2006 on the Amazon River under the patronage of the Ecumenical Patriarch and HE Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations. Participants journeyed from Manaus, through Santarem and Jau, meeting at the crossing of the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes for a special ceremony of the blessing of waters by the Ecumenical Patriarch and indigenous leaders. Through scholarly reports, religious papers, and several field trips to the Jau Reserve, Mamiraua, Lake Piranha and along the Amazon itself, participants received a unique perspective on the environmental problems of the region. This symposium concentrated on the global dimension of problems stemming directly from the Amazon, problems which have, perhaps, dropped out of view for many decision-makers [33].

Symposium VII, scheduled for the summer of 2007, will direct its attention to the Arctic Sea and the imminent dangers of global warming [34].

5. Environment and spirituality

With reference to the environmental initiatives and actions, what is perhaps most characteristic of the Patriarch’s initiatives is the mark of humility. The Ecumenical Patriarch is able to see the larger picture. He recognizes that he is standing before something greater than himself, a world before which he must kneel, a chain which long predates and will long outlast him. Therefore, he speaks of self-emptying (kenosis) (Phil. 2.4-11), ministry (diakonia) (Luke 10.40; Acts 1.17, 25; 6.4), witness (martyria, a term which also has the sense of martyrdom and suffering) (John 1.7, 19), and thanksgiving (or eucharistia, a term which also implies liturgy) (Acts 24.3; 2 Cor. 4.15) [35].

The emphasis is always on humble simplicity – the technical term in Orthodox spirituality is asceticism (askeo – to work up raw material with skill, to exercise by training or discipline; Acts 24.16) and on liturgy (ministration, ministry, service) as the essential source of Orthodox theology. The notion of liturgy leads us into what is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Patriarch’s vision, namely the concept of communion (koinonia – which also means communication and fellowship; 1 Cor. 10.16; Phil. 6). In everything that Patriarch Bartholomew says or does, particularly in light of the environmental crisis, he is aware that everyone without exception – irrespective of confessional or religious conviction – must be included. Moreover, all sciences and disciplines should be committed and all cultures and ages should concur [36].

For Patriarch Bartholomew, this is a matter of truthfulness to God, humanity and the created order. In fact, it is not too far-fetched to speak of environmental damage as being a contemporary heresy or natural terrorism; he condemns it as nothing less than sin! In November 1997, he declared:

To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin. For human beings to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests, or by destroying its wetlands; for human beings to injure other human beings with disease by contaminating the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life, with poisonous substances – all of these are sins. [37]

The environment is not only a political or a technological issue; it is, as Bartholomew likes to underline, primarily a religious and spiritual issue. Religion has a key role to play; a spirituality that remains uninvolved with outward creation is uninvolved with the inward mystery too [38].

Patriarch Bartholomew invariably relates the environment to a familiar aspect of Orthodox spirituality, namely to the icons that decorate Orthodox churches. Symbols are important in Orthodox thought, worship and life. Creation itself is likened to an icon, just as the human person is created ‘in the image and likeness of God’ (Gen. 1.26 and Col. 1.15). The Patriarch invites people to contemplate the Creator God through the icon of the created world (Col. 1.16-18). Creation is a visible and tangible revelation of the presence of the Word of God.

Humanity is called to wonder at creation, but not to worship creation. Otherwise, the natural world is reduced from the level of icon to the level of idol. In the same vein, Patriarch Bartholomew refers to the human beings as endowed by God to serve as ‘priests’, underlining that personal responsibility for the physical world and the slightest action of even the feeblest among us can change the world for the better [39].

Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch is aware that environmental issues are intimately connected to and dependent on numerous other social issues of our times, including war and peace, justice and human rights, poverty and unemployment. It is not by chance that the term ‘eco-justice’ has been used in religious circles to describe this interconnection between creation and creatures, between the world and its inhabitants. We have, in recent years, become increasingly aware of the effects of environmental degradation on people, and especially the poor [40].

6. Worldview and vision

Unfortunately, we tend to forget our connection to the earth and our environment. There is a binding unity and continuity that we share with all of God’s creation. In recent years, we have been reminded of this truth with flora and fauna extinction, with soil and forest clearance, and with noise, air and water pollution. Concern for the environment is not an expression of superficial or sentimental love. It is a way of honoring and dignifying our creation by the hand and word of God. It is a way of listening to ‘the groaning of creation’ (Rom. 8.22).

Of course, whenever we speak (whether of heavenly or earthly things), we draw upon established ideas of ourselves and our world. The technical language that we choose to adopt, like the particular ‘species’ we wish to preserve, depend on values and images that we promote or presume. In the Christian Orthodox tradition, symbols and images play a very significant role. Thus, when Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew considers images, he thinks of icons (they are the way Orthodox Christians reflect on creation), liturgy (the way Orthodox Christians respond to creation through public worship), and asceticism (the way Orthodox Christians respect creation) [41].

We tend to call this crisis an ‘ecological’ crisis, which is a fair description in so far as its results are manifested in the ecological sphere. The message is clear: our way of life is humanly and environmentally suicidal. Unless we change it radically, we cannot hope to avoid or reverse cosmic catastrophe. This is a point of view recognizable, though not with a Christian evaluation, in the work of James Lovelock [42]. Yet, the crisis is not first of all ecological. It is a crisis concerning the way we perceive reality, the way we imagine or image our world. We treat our planet in an inhuman, god-forsaken manner precisely because we see it in this way, precisely because we see ourselves in this way. Patriarch Bartholomew offers a refreshing, alternative way of seeing ourselves in relation to the natural world.

Before we can effectively deal with environmental problems, we must change our selfimage in relation to our world-image. Otherwise, we are simply dealing with symptoms, not with causes. And causes are rooted in the way we think, in the paradigms of thought which impel us to pursue a particular life-style, or particular social, political, and economic interests. The root of the problem is undoubtedly religious; the response, then, must also be religious, even if the results will be evident in economy and justice, in policy and politics, in technology and science.

A sacred or religious worldview signifies that everything that lives is holy (William Blake), that everything that breathes praises God (Ps. 150.6), that the entire world is a ‘burning bush of God’s energies’ [43]. A sense of humility before this whole implies respect toward other people, respect toward nature, and respect toward that which is beyond both humanity and nature. This is why, in his vision of the world that ultimately determines his initiatives for the protection of the environment, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew affirms that we are a part of a community; so we are less than human without each other. He also emphasizes that we are a part of the cosmos; so we are less than human without creation and God.

In his most recent message for 1 September (2006), Patriarch Bartholomew poignantly observed:

Recent unusual temperature fluctuations, hurricanes, earthquakes, storms, the pollutions of rivers and seas and numerous other occurrences that hurt both the environment and man are the results of human actions, whether carried out openly or executed in secret. The ultimate cause of all this destructive behavior is man’s egocentrism, an expression of his self-willed alienation from God and his effort to make himself god.

Because of this egocentrism, the relationship of man and nature intended by the Creator has degenerated into one of insolent and arrogant subjugation of natural forces and their use for the killing or subjection of our fellow human beings rather than for the preservation of life and freedom, or for the satisfaction of excessive pleasures, without care of the consequences of overuse.

The use of atomic and nuclear forces of nature for war is an insult to creation and Creator, as is over-consumption of any kind, which burdens the natural environment with pollutants, which leads to climate change and global warming and an imbalance in the natural order, with all that implies. The immense consumption of energy for purposes of war and the excessive consumption of contemporary humanity far beyond its needs are two areas where the responsibilities of political leaders and common citizens are interwoven in such a way so that each of us has the power to contribute to the betterment of the general condition [44].

As a religious leader, the Patriarch’s initiatives to protect the environment are worthy of emulation. His worldview, derived from the ancient values of the Orthodox Church, deserves attention.


[1] The Treaty of Lausanne was agreed in 1923 to settle affairs since 1914 among the following contracting parties: the British Empire, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Romania, the Serb-Croat-Slovene State and Turkey. The treaty to some extent governs the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; though it is nowhere referred to within the Treaty, and its adherents in Turkey are described with other religious or cultural minorities as ‘non-Moslems.’ The Turkish government does not recognize the customary and historical title of Ecumenical Patriarch. Article 38 of the Treaty of Lausanne provides that ‘All inhabitants of Turkey shall be entitled to free exercise, whether in public or private, of any creed, religion or belief, the observance of which shall not be incompatible with public order and good morals.’ Article 39 of the Treaty protects the civil, political and religious rights of non-Muslim minorities who are Turkish nationals. Article 40 gives them ‘the same treatment and security in law and fact as other Turkish nationals. In particular, they shall have an equal right to establish, manage and control at their own expense, any charitable, religious and social institutions, any schools and other establishments for instruction and education, with the right to use their own language and to exercise their own religion freely therein.’ Article 44 provides for the League of Nations to guarantee provisions affecting the ‘non-Moslem minorities’ with reference of dispute to the Permanent Court of International Justice. For further information, see the Yale Law School White Paper (http://www.archons.org/pdf/yalelawstudy.pdf).

[2] Chryssavgis, J., 2003, Cosmic Grace, Humble Prayer: The Ecological Vision of the Green Patriarch, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publications), page 292. This book is the official collection of Patriarchal statements, messages, addresses and interviews on environmental issues from 1989 to 2002. Hereafter referred to as Cosmic Grace.

[3] Cosmic Grace, pp. 66–74.

[4] See the website of the Permanent Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the World Council Churches: www.ecupatria-geneva.org.

[5] Ecumenical Patriarchate assisted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (Ed.), 1990, Orthodoxy and the Ecological Crisis (Helsinki: WWF International)

[6] Op. cit.

[7] Op. cit. The Patmos conference was entitled: ‘Religions, the Material World and the Natural Environment’. Unfortunately, neither the proceedings nor the scholarly papers from this conference were ever published in a  single volume. The conference was organized by Costa Carras. Participants at this inter-religious and interdisciplinary gathering included Bill Reilly, who in the following year was appointed director of the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States. Reference to the conference was made for the first time as late as 2002, in Cosmic Grace (pp. 5–6) and in an article by Metropolitan John of Pergamon as President of the Academy of Athens, entitled: ‘Man as Priest of Creation’, in the Sunday issue of Kathimerini Newspaper, Athens, 29 September 2002, pp. 2–3 (in Greek).

[8] Cosmic Grace, pp. 37–39.

[9] This is significant inasmuch as 1 September is also the opening of the Orthodox church year, known as the Indiction.

[10] Belopopsky, A. and Oikonomou, D. (Eds), 1996, Orthodoxy and Ecology: Resource Book (Athens: Syndesmos).

[11] Ecumenical Patriarchate assisted by SYNDESMOS, 1991, So That God’s Creation Might Live: The Orthodox Church Responds to the Ecological Crisis. Proceedings of the Inter-Orthodox Conference on Environmental Protection, Crete, 1991.

[12] Phanar, meaning ‘lighthouse’ in Greek, refers to the old lighthouse quarter of Istanbul and it is also the main quarter for Greeks. The name is also seen as coterminous with the Ecumenical Patriarchate since the residence, administrative offices, and cathedral of the Patriarch are there.

[13] Cosmic Grace, pp. 78–81. The Patriarchate’s international theological school at Halki (Heybeliada, on the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara) has been closed since 1971, further to a Turkish law forbidding private universities to function. The closure would appear to be in breach of Article 40 of the Treaty of Lausanne and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Yet Halki served as the formative and theological centre for numerous leaders of the (especially, but not only) Greek-speaking Orthodox world. The function of Halki had been diminished both as a secondary school and graduate seminary since the late 1950s. The magnificent 19th-century building contains a library of 40,000 books and historical manuscripts, as well as classrooms filled with old wooden desks, and spacious reception and dormitory rooms. It is Patriarch Bartholomew’s dream and desire to reopen the Theological School.

[14] Cosmic Grace, p. 8.

[15] Cosmic Grace, pp. 102–107.

[16] The award ceremony was in the capital Rotunda of Washington, DC. For the US Congressional Gold Medal, cf. Public Law 105-51, 111 Stat. 117-1171. For further details, consult: http://clerk.house.gov/histHigh/Congressional_History/goldMedal.html. Also see Cosmic Grace, pp. 102–107; The Environment and Religious Education. Proceedings of the summer 1994 Seminar on Halki, Melitos Editions, Istanbul, 1995.

[17] The Environment and Ethics. Proceedings of the summer 1995 Seminar on Halki, Melitos Editions, Istanbul, 1996.

[18] The Environment and Communications. Proceedings of the 1996 Seminar on Halki, Melitos Editions, Istanbul, forthcoming.

[19] The Environment and Justice. Proceedings of the 1997 Seminar on Halki, Melitos Editions, Istanbul, forthcoming.

[20] The Environment and Poverty. Proceedings of the 1998 Seminar on Halki, Melitos Editions, Istanbul, forthcoming.

[21] Cosmic Grace, pp. 123–129.

[22] Cosmic Grace, p. 8.

[23] Cosmic Grace, p. 287–292.

[24] Cosmic Grace, p. 9. In 2004, he was also named among the UN ‘Champions of the Earth.’

[25] See his, 1989, Preserving God’s creation: three lectures on theology and ecology. King’s Theological Review, XII; also see 1995, Ecological asceticism: a cultural revolution. Our Planet, VII, 6.

[26] Hobson, S. and Lubchenko, J. (Eds) 1997, Revelation and the Environment AD 95– 1995 (Singapore: World Scientific, 1997). The symposia of the Religious and Scientific Committee are coordinated by Mrs Maria Becket. For the relevant website, see http://www.rsesymposia.org.

[27] Hobson, S and Mee, L. (Eds), 1998, Religion, Science, and the Environment: The Black Sea in Crisis (Singapore: World Scientific).

[28] Cosmic Grace, pp. 243–246.

[29] Ascherson, N. and Hobson, S. (Eds), 2002, Danube: River of Life. Religion, Science and the Environment.

[30] Ascherson, N. and Marshall, A. (Eds), 2003, The Adriatic Sea, a sea at risk, a unity of purpose. Religion, Science and the Environment.

[31] For the official text of the ‘Venice Declaration’, see Cosmic Grace, pp. 308–311.

[32] Publication of Proceedings pending. See symposia website: http://www.rsesymposia.org/.

[33] Publication of Proceedings pending. See symposia website: http://www.rsesymposia.org/.

[34] For a statement by the Patriarch on global warming, see www.ecupatria-geneva.org.

[35] Cosmic Grace, pp. 14–22.

[36] Chryssavgis, J., 1999, See Beyond the Shattered Image: Orthodox Insights into the Environment (Minneapolis, MN: Light and Life).

[37] Cosmic Grace, pp. 217–222.

[38] For other recent works by Orthodox theologians, see: Sherrard, P., 1987, The Eclipse of Man and Nature: An Enquiry into the Origins and Consequences of Modern Science (Felton, Northumberland: Lindisfarne Press); Sherrard, P., 1990, Human Image, World Image (Ipswich: Golgonooza Press); Bishop Kallistos Ware, 1997, Through the Creation to the Creator (Friends of the Centre Papers); Metropolitan Paulos Gregorios, 1978, The Human Presence: An Orthodox View of Nature (Geneva: World Council of Churches) (later published as The Human Presence: Ecological Spirituality and the Age of the Spirit, 1987); Metropolitan Paulos Gregorios, 1980, Science for Sane Societies (Christian Literature Society).

[39] See the chapter by Metropolitan John (Ziziolulas) of Pergamon, 1996, Man: the priest of creation. A response to the ecological problem, in: A. Walker and C. Carras (Eds) Living Orthodoxy in the Modern World (London; SPCK).

[40] Like the phrase ‘justice, peace, and the integrity of creation’, the term ‘eco-justice’ has been widely used in circles of the World Council of Churches since the mid-1970s: Limouris, G. (Ed.), 1990, Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation: Insights from Orthodoxy (Geneva: WCC Publications).

[41] Cosmic Grace, pp. 22–33.

[42] See Lovelock, J., The Revenge of Gaia, 2006 (London: Allen Lane, Penguin)

[43] For further insights, see Chryssavgis, J., 2004, Light Through Darkness (London: Darton Longman and Todd), pp. 108–126; and Clément, O., 1997, Conversations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (New York: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press).

[44] Encyclical disseminated, like all such Encyclicals from the Patriarchate, throughout the Orthodox world and read publicly on the occasion of the opening of the church year on 1 September. This particular Encyclical may be found on the website of the United States Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (http://www.archons.org/), whose leadership and responsibility in recent years has been directed toward promoting the work and protecting the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. For past Encyclicals (1989–2002), see Cosmic Grace, pp. 37–62.


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