+ 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.
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. This topic was paramount in the 9th Ecological Symposium, entitled “Toward a Greener Attica: Preserving the planet and protecting its people,” organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate last June on the Saronic Islands of Spetses and Hydra. Unfortunately, the recent devastating fires in Attica and the impending consequences of this immense environmental destruction constitute tragic proof of the views shared by the symposium participants on the severity of the ecological threat.
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.
September 1, 2018
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God.
(Reprinted from http://www.thyateira.org.uk/new-ecclesiastical-year18/)
ON THE FEAST OF THE INDICTION 01/09/19
Prot. No. 582
+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By God’s Mercy
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To All the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Peace and Mercy from the Maker of All Creation
Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ
Dearest brother Hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,
With the goodness and grace of the all-bountiful God, today marks the 30th anniversary since the Holy Great Church of Christ established the feast of Indiction and first day of the ecclesiastical year as “the day of environmental protection.” We did not only address our Orthodox faithful, nor again just Christian believer or even representatives of other religions, but also political leaders, environmentalists and other scientists, as well as intellectuals and all people of good will, seeking their contribution.
The ecological activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate served as the inspiration for theology to advance prominently the truth of Christian anthropology and cosmology, the Eucharistic worldview and treatment of creation, along with the spirit of Orthodox asceticism as the basis for understanding the reason for and response to the ecological crisis. The bibliography related to theological ecology or ecological theology is extensive and on the whole constitutes an admirable Orthodox witness before the major challenges of contemporary humanity and earthly life. Concern for the ecological crisis and for the global dimensions and consequences of sin – of this alienating internal “reversal of values” in humankind – brought to the surface the connection between ecological and social issues as well as for the need to address them jointly. Mobilizing forces for the protection of the integrity of creation and for social justice are interconnected and inseparable actions.
The interest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the protection of creation did not arise as a reaction to or as a result of the contemporary ecological crisis. The latter was simply the motivation and occasion for the Church to express, develop, proclaim and promote its environmentally-friendly principles. The foundation of the Church’s undiminished concern for the natural environment lies in its ecclesiological identity and theology. Respect and care for creation are a dimension of our faith, the content of our life in the Church and as the Church. The very life of the Church is “an experienced ecology,” an applied respect and care for creation, and the source of its environmental activities. In essence, the interest of the Church for the protection of the environment is the extension of the Holy Eucharist in all dimensions of its relationship to the world. The liturgical life of the Church, the ascetic ethos, pastoral service and experience of the cross and resurrection by the faithful, the unquenchable desire for eternity: all of these comprise a communion of persons for which the natural reality cannot be reduced to an object or useful matter to meet the needs of an individual or humanity; by contrast, this reality is considered as an act, deed the handiwork of a personal God, who calls us to respect and protect it, thereby rendering us His “coworkers,” “stewards,” “guardians,” and “priests” of creation in order to cultivate a Eucharistic relationship with it.
Care for the natural environment is not an added activity, but an essential expression of church life. It does not have a secular, but rather a purely ecclesiastical character. It is a “liturgical ministry.” All of the initiatives and activities of the Church are “applied ecclesiology.” In this sense, theological ecology does not merely refer to the development of an ecological awareness or the response to ecological problems on the basis of the principles of Christian anthropology and cosmology. On the contrary, it involves the renewal of the whole creation in Christ, just as this is realized and experienced in the Holy Eucharist, which is an image and foretaste of the eschatological fullness of the Divine Economy in the doxological wholeness and luminous splendor of the heavenly kingdom.
Most honorable brothers and most precious children in the Lord,
The ecological crisis reveals that our world comprises an integral whole, that our problems are global and shared. In order to meet these challenges, we require a multilayered mobilization, a common accord, direction and action. It is inconceivable for humankind to recognize the severity of the problem and yet continue to behave in oblivion. While in recent decades the dominant model of economic development in the context of globalization – highlighting the fetishism of financial markers and magnification of financial profit – has exacerbated ecological and economic problems, the notion still prevails widely that “there is no other alternative” and that not conforming to the rigid validity logic of the world’s economy will lead to unbridled social and financial situations. Thus, any alternative forms of development, along with the power of social solidarity and justice, are overlooked and undermined.
For our part, however, we are obliged to assume greater measures for the application of the ecological and social consequences of our faith. It is extremely vital that our archdioceses and metropolises, as well as many of our parishes and sacred monasteries, have fostered initiatives and activities for the protection of the environment, but also various programs of ecological education. We should pay special attention to the Christian formation of our youth, so that it may function as an area of cultivation and development of an ecological ethos and solidarity. Childhood and adolescence are particularly susceptible life phases for ecological and social responsiveness. Aware of the urgency of environmental education, the Ecumenical Patriarchate devoted the Third in its series of international Halki Summits to the subject of “Theological Education and Ecological Awareness” (Istanbul, May 31st to June 4th, 2019) with a view to incorporating ecology and environmental awareness into programs and curricula of theological schools and seminaries. The solution to the great challenges of our world is unattainable without spiritual orientation.
In conclusion, then, we wish all of you a favorable and blessed ecclesiastical year, filled with works pleasing to God. We invite the radiant children of the Mother Church throughout the world to pray for the integrity of creation, to be sustainable and charitable in every aspect of their lives, to strive for the protection of the natural environment, as well as the promotion of peace and justice. And we proclaim once more the truth that there can be no genuine progress, when the “very good” creation and the human person made in the image and likeness of God suffer. Finally, through the intercession of the first-among-the-saints Theotokos Pammakaristos, we invoke upon you the life-giving grace and boundless mercy of the Creator and Provider of all.
September 1, 2019
+Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God
Mesajul de Crăciun al Înaltpreasfințitului Arhiepiscop Nikitas
Mesajul de Crăciun
al Înaltpreasfințitului Arhiepiscop Nikitas din Thyateira și Marea Britanie
Un colind traditional de Crăciun începe cu următoarele cuvintele „O Vino, O Vino, Emanuel” și exprimă durerea și provocările lui Israel, în timp ce poporul aștepta și se ruga ca Dumnezeu să-L trimită pe Mesia să-i răscumpere din tirania sclaviei. Rugaciunile lor nu erau pentru libertatea din sclavie umană, ci pentru răscumpărarea lor din păcat și din captivitatea celui rău. La vremea potrivită, Dumnezeu L-a trimis pe Fiul Său, Domnul nostru Iisus Hristos, pentru a ne mantui si elibera pe toți de păcat. Fapta Lui iubitoare nu a fost numai pentru poporul Israel. A fost un act de dragoste pentru întreaga lume, pentru toți oamenii, pentru fiecare aspect al creației.
În fiecare an, ca Biserică, ne adunăm pentru a sărbători acest moment unic. Ne reamintim de profețiile din vechime și cum s-au împlinit odată cu nașterea Copilului nevinovat. Ne uităm la tradiția iconografică, in timp ce contemplăm acest mister uimitor. De asemenea, tradiția himnologică a Bisericii noastre ne educă despre acest eveniment mântuitor. Imnurile spun pământului și cerurilor să se bucure și noi toti suntem invitați să participăm la sărbătoare. Este o invitație pentru toți oamenii, pentru cei sfinți și păcătoși deopotrivă, să călătorească spiritual în orașul Betleem și să-L caute pe Hristosul nou-născut, Care a împlinit marea profeție a lui Isaia, care a scris: ‘Căci un Copil ni S-a născut, un Fiu ni s-a dat și domnia va fi pe umărul Lui; Îl vor numi: Minunat, Sfetnic, Dumnezeu tare, Părintele veșniciilor, Domn al păcii.’ Acest Hristos este cel care s-a nascut pentru mântuirea lumii. El trebuie să se nască în inimile tuturor oamenilor indiferrent de timpul sau spațiul geografic. El ne umple golul din suflet și transformă suferinta într-o oază de pace.
Deși sărbătoarea propriu-zisă a Crăciunului, Sărbătoarea Nașterii Domnului, este sărbatorită, o dată pe an, semnificația și mesajul sărbătorii ar trebui să fie trăite în fiecare zi de toți oamenii. Crăciunul este momentul dăruirii și împărtășirii cu cei care au nevoie. Este anotimpul în care spiritul împăcării umple aerul și inimile umanității. Acesta este momentul în care căile vechi sunt puse deoparte și privim lumea într-o manieră diferită. Crăciunul este ziua unui nou început când Soarele Neprihănirii risipește întunericul trecutului și speranța ne este daruita odata cu nașterea lui Hristos.
Pe măsură ce întâmpinăm Sărbătoarea Crăciunului, să ne reamintim de iubirea pe care Hristos o are pentru lume. Fie ca toti să sărbătorim in Biserica, salutându-ne cu salutul tradițional de Craciun și amintindu-ne de cei care suferă. Fie ca toți să aibă un Crăciun FERICIT si binecuvântat.
Cu binecuvântări și iubire paternă,
Londra, Decembrie, 2019
Arhiepiscop Nikitas din
Thyateira și Marea Britanie