06/06/2018, 14.24
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Francis and Bartholomew: Common commitment against the ecological crisis and its spiritual roots

by NAT da Polis

A conference in Athens on the occasion of the World Environment Day. For the Ecumenical Patriarch, the crisis "requires the convergence of religions, science and technology, of all sectors and social organizations, as well as of all people of good will". Even Pope Francis, in his message, reaffirms the urgency of working together, Christians and non-Christians, to "offer an offering an unequivocal response" to the ecological challenge.

Athens (AsiaNews) - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has affirmed the need for a "moral transformation" of man that leads to a radical change in the way of looking at nature created by God. His comments were contained in his opening address at the 9th International Ecological Symposium on Preserving the planet and Protecting its Inhabitants which got underway yesterday in Athens on the UN World Environment Day.

Pope Francis, who addressed a message of greeting to the Patriarch and the conference, today also published a tweet for the World Environment Day: "Lord, awaken in us the praise and gratitude for our Earth and for every being that you have created ".

In his report, the Patriarch started from the observation that " The ecological crisis has revealed that our world constitutes a seamless whole" and therefore that " no initiative or institution, no nation or corporation, neither science nor technology, are in a place to respond to the ecological crisis alone, without working closely together". The answer then " the convergence and common drive of religions, science and technology, of all social sectors and organizations, as well as all people of goodwill. A model of cooperation is what is required and not a method of competition; we must work in a collaborative and complementary way. Unfortunately, however, today we witness economic interests and geopolitical models working against such cooperation in the field of environmental protection".

Bartholomew continued that the Patriarchate "has long highlighted the spiritual and moral roots of the ecological crisis, while emphasizing the solidarity between humanity and nature. Moreover, it has underlined the need for a spiritual transformation of human beings and their attitude toward creation.". "The destruction of the natural environment can only be reversed through a radical change of our perspective towards nature that results from a radical change of our self-understanding as human beings".

" For the Orthodox Church, creation care—the preservation of nature and the protection of all people—emanates from the essence of our faith" and since June 2016 it affirms that every Christian is called to be an administrator, protector and 'priest' of creation”.

"Preserving and protecting the natural environment, as well as respecting and serving our fellow human beings, are two sides of one and the same coin. The consequences of the ecological crisis—which affect, first and foremost, the socially and economically vulnerable—are a serious threat for social cohesion and integration. The identity of every society and measure of every culture are not judged by the degree of technological development, economic growth or public infrastructure. Our civil life and civilization are defined and judged primarily by our respect for the dignity of humanity and integrity of nature."

Bartholomew concluded, " there is an intimate link between caring for creation and worshipping the creator, between an economy for the poor and an ecology for the planet. When we hurt people, we harm the earth. So, our extreme greed and excessive waste are not only economically unacceptable; they are ecologically unsustainable. In fact, they are ethically unforgivable. This is how we must interpret the Lord’s words in the parable of the last judgment: “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” (Matt. 25.35).

In profound sympathy with the patriarch, in his message to Bartholomew I, Pope Francis affirmed that "the duty to care for creation challenges all people of good will, and calls upon Christians to acknowledge the spiritual roots of  the ecological crisis, and cooperate in the offering an unequivocal response". He then reiterated his "firm intention that the Catholic Church continue to journey together with Your Holiness, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate", and with the "other Christian communities and all people of good will".

Finally, Francis expresses gratitude for Bartholomew’s commitment and for having "involved religious leaders, scientists, politicians and business leaders in creating an important network to effectively respond to the current challenges".

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