05/19/2008, 00.00
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Bartholomew I on science and protection of the environment

by NAT da Polis
The "green patriarch" - as he is nicknamed - has received the Woodrow Wilson prize for his work on behalf of environmentalism and human rights. Faith and science must not exclude each other. Concern over technology without any moral boundaries.

Athens (AsiaNews) - An appeal for the protection of the environment and a call for scientific research to return to moral criteria are the proposals of Bartholomew I, whose long commitment to environmental issues has earned him the title of the "green patriarch", and a place among the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine (listed as number 11).

The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople delivered his address in Athens, where last May 15 he received the Woodrow Wilson prize for his efforts on environmentalism and human rights.

His commitment to safeguarding creation from the heedless exploitation of natural resources on the part of man dates from his election as patriarch in 1992, when he said that he wanted to put into action the decision to address environmental issues made at the synod of the ecumenical patriarchate in 1989.

Bartholomew cited the concerns of many ordinary people all around the world, over a possible environmental catastrophe.

The realisation is the same everywhere, among various cultures and languages: "In his unbridled race for material prosperity alone, man risks destroying the beauty of our planet".  Even in the "so-called civil world that calls itself Christian . . . there persists a frenetic race aimed at the environmental destruction of our planet".

Humanity - Bartholomew I said - has an urgent need "to escape from this blind alley", and "religion can provide an important contribution for illuminating techno-scientific thought".

After recalling the conflict between faith and science in the past, above all in the West, the patriarch said that he is following with great satisfaction "the healing of the ruptures" between Church and science.

Bartholomew I also emphasised that he is worried about the emergence of a techno-scientific outlook that "removes itself from any ethical conception, thus producing its own morality, devoid of love for God".

"If for the ancient Greek sophists", Bartholomew concluded, "the measure of everything was man, for Christianity the measure of everything is God.  Christianity teaches us that we must pay attention to the little things, even the smallest, and every event must be evaluated in the perspective of eternity.  In the light of all this, we invite every man to develop a morality oriented toward God, the true measure of everything".

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