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August 27, 2018

Feast of Indiction
Patriarchal Message

- His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW -




 

September 1, 2018

Prot. No. 738

 

+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church: Grace, peace and mercy
From the Creator of All, our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ

***

 

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

 

Twenty-nine years have now passed since the Mother Church established the Feast of Indiction as the “Day of Protection of the Environment.” Throughout this time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has inspired and pioneered various activities, which have borne much fruit and highlighted the spiritual and ecological resources of our Orthodox tradition.

 

The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s ecological initiatives provided a stimulus for theology to showcase the environmentally-friendly principles of Christian anthropology and cosmology as well as to promote the truth that no vision for humanity’s journey through history has any value if it does not also include the expectation of a world that functions as a real “home” (oikos) for humanity, particularly at a time when the ongoing and increasing threat against the natural environment is fraught with the possibility of worldwide ecological destruction. This evolution is a consequence of a specific choice of economic, technological and social development that respects neither the value of the human being nor the sanctity of nature. 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.

 

Although we do not consider it appropriate to judge modern civilization on the grounds of criteria related to sin, we wish to underscore that the destruction of the natural environment in our age is associated with human arrogance against nature and our domineering relationship toward the environment, as well as with the model of eudemonism or disposition of greed as a general attitude in life. As incorrect as it is to believe that things were better in the past, it is equally unfitting to shut eyes to what is happening today. 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.

 

This ethos and culture are preserved in Orthodoxy’s divine and human ecclesial tradition. The sacramental and devotional life of the Church experiences and expresses a Eucharistic vision, approach and use of creation. Such a relationship with the world is incompatible with every form of introversion and indifference to creation—with every form of dualism that separates matter from spirit and undermines material creation. On the contrary, the Eucharistic experience sensitizes and mobilizes the believer toward environmentally-friendly action in the world. In this spirit, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church emphasized that “in the sacraments of the Church, creation is affirmed and human beings are encouraged to act as stewards, protectors and ‘priests’ of creation, offering it in doxology to the Creator” (Encyclical, par. 14). 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. It is hardly coincidental that the Orthodox Church has been characterized as the ecological expression of Christianity inasmuch as it is the Church that has preserved the Holy Eucharist at the core of its being.

 

Consequently, the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s ecological initiatives were not simply developed in response or in reaction to the modern unprecedented ecological crisis, but as an expression of the Church’s life, an extension of the Eucharistic ethos in the believer’s relationship to nature. This innate ecological conscience of the Church was boldly and successfully declared in the face of the contemporary threat to the natural environment. The life of the Orthodox Church is applied ecology, a tangible and inviolable respect for the natural environment. The Church is an event of communion, a victory over sin and death, as well as over self-righteousness and self-centeredness—all of which constitute the very cause of ecological devastation. The Orthodox believer cannot remain indifferent to the ecological crisis. Creation care and environmental protection are the ramification and articulation of our Orthodox faith and Eucharistic ethos.

 

Venerable hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,

 

The ecological culture of the Orthodox faith is the realization of its Eucharistic vision of creation, summarized and expressed in its church life and practice. This is the Orthodox Church’s eternal message on the issue of ecology. The Church preaches and proclaims “the same things” “at all times” in accordance with the unassailable words of its Founder and Leader, that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Lk. 21:33). Adhering to this tradition, the Mother Church calls upon its Archdioceses and Metropolises, as well as its parishes and monasteries throughout the world, to develop initiatives, coordinate projects, organize conferences and activities that foster environmental awareness and sensitivity, so that our faithful may realize that the protection of the natural environment is the spiritual responsibility of each and every one of us. 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. 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.

 

Special attention must also be directed to the organization of Christ-centered educational programs for our youth in order to cultivate an ecological ethos. Ecclesiastical instruction must instill in their souls a respect for creation as “very good” (Gen. 1:26), encouraging them to advocate and advance creation care and protection, the liberating truth of simplicity and frugality, as well as the Eucharistic and ascetic ethos of sharing and sacrifice. It is imperative that young men and women recognize their responsibility for the practical implementation of the ecological consequences of our faith, while at the same time becoming acquainted with and promulgating the definitive contribution of the Ecumenical Throne in the preservation of the natural environment.

 

In conclusion, we wish you all a blessed ecclesiastical year and abundant benefit in your spiritual struggles, invoking upon you the life-giving grace and boundless mercy of the Giver of all good things, our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, through the intercessions of Panaghia Pammakaristos, whose honorable icon, the sacred heirloom of all Orthodox people, we reverently and humbly venerate today.

 

+ Bartholomew of Constantinople

Your fervent supplicant before God

 

 



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BARTHOLOMEW, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch [1991-present] The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the foremost ecclesiastical centre of the Ortho
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BARTHOLOMEW, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch [1991-present] The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the foremost ecclesiastical centre of the Orthodox Church throughout the world, tracing its history to the Day of Pentecost and the early Christian communities founded by the Apostles of Jesus Christ. According to tradition, the "First-Called" of these Apostles, Andrew, preached the Gospel around Asia Minor, the Black Sea, Thrace and Achaia, where he was martyred. In 36 AD, he founded the Church on the shores of the Bosphorus in the city known then as Byzantium, later Constantinople and today Istanbul. St. Andrew is the Patron Saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; his Patronal Feast is celebrated on November 30. The title "Ecumenical Patriarch" dates to the sixth century and historically belongs to the Archbishop of Constantinople. As Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew occupies the First Throne of the worldwide Orthodox Christian Church, presiding in historical honor and fraternal spirit as "first among equals" of all Orthodox Primates. These include the ancient Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, as well as the more recent Patriarchates of Moscow, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia. Beyond these, the Ecumenical Patriarch has the historical and theological responsibility to initiate and coordinate common activity among the Orthodox Churches of Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Albania, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Finland, Estonia, as well as various Archdioceses and numerous Metropolitan dioceses throughout the world, such as in Europe, America and Australia. Moreover, he is responsible for convening pan-Orthodox councils or meetings, facilitating inter-church and inter-faith dialogues, while serving as the focal point and primary spokesman for Orthodox Church unity as a whole. Transcending national and ethnic borders, the Ecumenical Patriarch is spiritual leader to 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide. Born Demetrios Archondonis in 1940 on the island of Imvros (today, Gökçeada, Turkey), His All-Holiness Bartholomew was elected in October 1991 as the 270th Archbishop of the 2000-year-old Church founded by St. Andrew, serving as Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch. The personal experience and theological formation of the Ecumenical Patriarch provide him with a unique perspective on ecumenical relations and environmental issues. His All-Holiness has worked tirelessly for reconciliation among Christian Churches and acquired an international reputation for raising ecological awareness on a global level. He has worked to advance reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, as well as other Christian confessions, through theological dialogues and personal encounters with respective leaders in order to address issues of common concern. Closely involved with the World Council of Churches, he has served on its Executive and Central Committees and Faith and Order Commission. Moreover, he has initiated numerous international meetings and conversations with Muslim and Jewish leaders in an effort to promote mutual respect and religious tolerance worldwide, but especially in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, thereby proving a pioneer in interfaith encounters throughout the world. Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch has presided over the historic restoration of the Autocephalous Church of Albania and the Autonomous Church of Estonia, also providing spiritual and moral support to many traditional Orthodox countries emerging from decades of wide-scale religious persecution behind the Iron Curtain. A citizen of Turkey, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received his elementary and secondary education in Imvros and Istanbul. After completing undergraduate studies at the Theological School of Halki, Istanbul, His All-Holiness pursued graduate studies at the Pontifical Oriental Institute of the Gregorian University in Rome, the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey (Switzerland) and the University of Munich. His doctoral dissertation was in the field of Canon Law; he was a founding member of the Society of Canon Law of the Oriental Churches. Ordained to the Diaconate in 1961 and to the Priesthood in 1969, he served as Assistant Dean at the Theological School of Halki (1968-72) before being appointed Personal Secretary to his predecessor, the late Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios (1972-90), as well as being elected Metropolitan of Philadelphia (1973) and, later, Metropolitan of Chalcedon (1990). Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew holds numerous honorary doctorates, from prestigious academic institutions such as the universities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras and Ioannina (in Greece), Georgetown and Yale (in the USA), Flinders and Manila (in Australasia), London, Edinburgh, Louvain, Moscow, Bologna and Bucharest (in Europe). He speaks Greek, Turkish, Italian, German, French and English; he is also fluent in classical Greek and Latin. The role of the Ecumenical Patriarch as the primary spiritual leader of the Orthodox Christian world and transnational figure of global significance continues to prove increasingly vital. His All-Holiness has co-sponsored international peace conferences, as well as meetings on the subjects of racism and fundamentalism, bringing together Jews, Christians and Muslims for the purpose of generating greater cooperation and mutual understanding. He has been invited to address the European Parliament, UNESCO, the World Economic Forum, as well as numerous national parliaments. He has organized eight international, inter-faith and inter-disciplinary symposia, as well as numerous seminars and summits, to address ecological problems in the rivers and seas of the world, initiatives earning him the title "Green Patriarch" and the award of several significant environmental awards. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew's tenure has been characterized by inter-Orthodox cooperation, inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue, as well as by formal trips to Orthodox and Muslim countries seldom previously visited. He has exchanged numerous invitations with Church and State dignitaries. His efforts to promote religious freedom and human rights, his initiatives to advance religious tolerance among the world's religions, together with his work toward international peace and environmental protection have justly placed him at the forefront of global visionaries, peacemakers and bridge-builders as an apostle of love, peace and reconciliation. In 1997, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the United States Congress. Feastday: 11 June