Encyclical Letter from Patriarch Bartholomew for The Church New Year 1/9/18

+ 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/)


Patriarchate Logo

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

GDPR Data Privacy Notice

Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol


1. Your personal data what is it?

Personal data relates to a living individual who can be identified from that data. Identification can be by the information alone or in conjunction with any other information in the data controller’s possession or likely to come into such possession. The processing of personal data is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (the “GDPR”).

2. Who are we?

The Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God is the Data Controller and gives responsibility to the Data Control Officer (contact details below). This means that s/he, in consultation with the Parish Council, decides how your personal data is processed and for what purposes.

3. How do we process your personal data?

The Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol complies with its obligations under the GDPR and any subsequent legislation. In particular, the relevant parts of Articles 6 & 9 of the GDPR. We do this by keeping personal data up to date; by storing and destroying it securely; by not collecting or retaining excessive amounts of data; by protecting personal data from loss, misuse, unauthorised access and disclosure and by ensuring that appropriate technical measures are in place to protect personal data. We use your personal data for the following purposes: –

For members of the clergy to provide pastoral care to parishioners;

To enable us to provide a voluntary service for the benefit of the public as specified in our constitution;

To administer membership records;

To raise funds and promote the interests of the charity;

To manage any employees and volunteers;

To maintain our own accounts and records, including processing gift aid applications.

To operate the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol web site and deliver the services that individuals have requested.

To inform individuals of news, events, activities or services running at the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol and to contact individuals to ask about their opinions of current services or of any new services that may be offered.

To contact parents about Sunday Schools and adults about catechetical and similar activities.

4. Sharing your personal data

Your personal data will be treated as strictly confidential, and will be shared only with the Parish Priest and members of the Parish Council, or those delegated by the Council, in order that they can carry out their office or role. We will not share your data with third parties outside the parish without your consent.

5. How long do we keep your personal data?

Parish Council members and those deputed by them, other than those maintaining ongoing parish records, will only hold your data for the length of time necessary to complete a task or function.

We keep your personal data for no longer than reasonably necessary for the purposes listed above. We will seek to update your data at least every five years in order to maintain an accurate record and to ensure we maintain mutual contact between members of the parish and the parish administration. We also keep a historic record of parish members, but otherwise once a member leaves the parish, and they notify the Secretary or Data Controller, their data will be deleted, unless they ask otherwise. By a ‘member’ we include those who have paid their membership subscription, plus those others who attend the church and who give their data to us.

6. Your rights and your personal data

Unless subject to a legal exemption, you have the following rights with respect to your personal data: –

The right to request a copy of your personal data which the Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God holds about you;

The right to request that the data controller of the The Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God corrects any personal data if it is found to be inaccurate or out of date;

The right to request your personal data is erased where it is no longer necessary for The Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God to retain such data;

The right to withdraw your consent to the processing at any time.

The right, where there is a dispute in relation to the accuracy or processing of your personal data, to request a restriction is placed on further processing;

The right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioners Office.

7. Further processing

If we wish to use your personal data for a new purpose, not covered by this Data Protection Notice, then we will provide you with a new notice explaining this new use prior to commencing the processing and setting out the relevant purposes and processing conditions. Where and whenever necessary, we will seek your prior consent to the new processing.

8. Contact Details

To exercise all relevant rights, queries of complaints please in the first instance contact the Parish Secretary / Parish Administrator at

secretary@bristol-orthodox-church.org.uk or


You can contact the Information Commissioners Office on 0303 123 1113 or via email https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/email/

or at the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House,

Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF.

9. Consent Form

The following is the Consent form we are using.  If you want to register with us, either copy this form and paste it into and email, or just email us and we will send you one: info@bristol-orthodox-church.co.uk

Please fill this in. Keep a copy for yourself. Send the completed form back to us.


Your privacy is important to us, and we want to communicate with church members in a way which has their consent, and which is in line with UK law on data protection. As a result of a change in UK Regulation (GDPR, 25/5/18), we now need your consent to how we contact you. Please fill in the contact details you want us to use to communicate with you:

Name _____________________________________________________

Address: ___________________________________________________


Email Address: ________________________________________________

Phone Number: ________________________________________________

By signing this form (by email please type yes/no and your name and date as appropriate) you are confirming that you are consenting to the Parish Priest and the Parish Council of the Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol, to hold and process your personal data for the following purposes (please tick the boxes where you grant consent ):

I consent to the church contacting me by post (……) phone (……) email (……)

I consent to the church’s keeping me informed about news, events, activities and services (……..) (Note: you can unsubscribe from the church e-bulletin at any time as per info at the end of this form or on the Newsletter.)

I consent to the church’s keeping my data as required for processing financial processing and Gift Aid (…..)

I consent to the church’s keeping my data in a spreadsheet as part of a record of parish members, including: my name (….. ) postal address (…..) phone numbers (….. ) email addresses (…..) and relevant data (i.e. Orthodox Christian/date of marriage, baptism etc.) (…..)

I consent to allowing photographs and videos of me (…….) and which include me (…….) to appear in Parish Publications (…..) and online platforms (…..)


NOTE: This means children under 13 years old. Separate regulation covers children of 13 and over and we will give a copy of the appropriate form to children and parents.

I give permission for the relevant data above to be kept and processed for my children:

Please List your children’s names and date of birth that you wish to be included:

1……………… 3………………………..

2……………… 4………………………..

PLEASE DO TELL US when your data (e.g. address, phone number, personal status) changes. We will then notify you that we have updated it.

We will update your records no later than every five years and will contact you then for this purpose.

Signed: ______________________________ Dated: _______________________________

You can grant consent to all the purposes; one of the purposes or none of the purposes. Where you do not grant consent we will not be able to use your personal data; (so for example we may not be able to let you know about forthcoming services and events); except in certain limited situations, such as where required to do so by law or to protect members of the public from serious harm. You can find out more about how we use your data from our “Privacy Notice” which is available from our website or from the Parish Secretary.

You can withdraw or change your consent at any time by contacting the The Parish Secretary, Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God, University Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1SP or by emailing : info@bristol-orthodox-church.co.uk. Please note that all processing of your personal data will cease once you have withdrawn consent, other than where this is required by law, but this will not affect any personal data that has already been processed prior to this point.

The Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol, is a Registered Charity, No. 290747



+ 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
May the Grace and Peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Together with our Prayer, Blessing and Forgiveness be with You
* * *

We offer a hymn of thanksgiving to the Triune God, who has rendered us worthy once more to reach Holy and Great Fast (Lent) in order to fight the good fight of ascesis and turn towards the “one thing that is needful” (Luke 10:42).

In a world averse to asceticism, in the presence of contemporary de-sanctification of life and domination of self-centred and self-indulgent ideals, the Orthodox Church insists on a Lenten period of spiritual struggle and “venerable abstinence” for its children in preparation for Holy Week, the Passion and Cross of Christ, so that we may become witnesses and partakers of His glorious Resurrection.

During the Great Fast (Lent) we are called to experience the creative and salvific economy of the Trinitarian God more deeply and to partake in the eschatological inclination, direction and progression of ecclesiastical and spiritual life more tangibly. We become conscious of the tragic impasse of the self-serving arrogance of the Pharisee, the hard-heartedness of the elder son in the Parable of the Prodigal, the callous disregard for hunger, thirst, nakedness, sickness and abandonment of our neighbour, according to the gospel account of the future judgement. We are encouraged to imitate the repentance and humility of the Publican, the return of the Prodigal to the household of the Father, in whose Grace he trusts, as well as those who show mercy to the needy, (Gregory Palamas’ life of prayer, John the Sinaite’s and Mary of Egypt’s life of ascesis), so that strengthened through the veneration of the holy icons and the precious Cross we may arrive at a personal encounter with Christ the life-giver who arose from the tomb.

During this blessed period, the communal and social character of spiritual life is revealed with particular emphasis. We are not alone; we do not stand alone before God. We are not a sum of individuals but a community of persons, for whom “existence” means “coexistence”. Ascesis is not individualistic but an ecclesiastical event and achievement—our participation as believers in the mystery and sacraments of the Church, a struggle against selfishness, a practice of philanthropy, a Eucharistic use of creation and a contribution to the transfiguration of the world. It is common freedom, common virtue, common good and common adherence to the rule of the Church. We fast as defined by the Church and not as we individually please. Our ascetic effort functions within the framework of our relations with other members of the ecclesial body, as participation in events, initiatives and actions, which constitute the Church as a community of life and of “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Orthodox spirituality is inextricably bound to participation in the entire life of the Church, which culminates in the Divine Eucharist; it is a piety that is nurtured by the Church and expressed as Church.

The period of the Great Fast (Lent) is not a period to highlight religious or emotional extremes or superficial sentimentalities. From an Orthodox perspective, spirituality does not mean turning towards the spirit and the soul, which fosters a dualistic reduction of matter and body. Spirituality is the permeation of our entire existence—spirit, mind and will, soul and body, our entire life—by the Holy Spirit, which is a spirit of communion. Accordingly, then, spirituality means transforming our lives into church, a life inspired and guided by the Comforter, a genuine bearing of spiritual gifts, which presupposes our own free cooperation and participation in the sacramental life of the Church, a godly way of life.

Venerable Brothers and beloved faithful in the Lord,

When spirituality is authentic, it cannot also be fruitless. Whoever truly loves God also loves their neighbour everywhere as well as creation in its entirety. This sacrificial love that “never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8) is a Eucharistic act, the fullness of life on earth, the foretaste and truth of the last times. Our Orthodox faith is an inexhaustible source of empowerment, enabling us in spiritual struggle, God-loving and philanthropic action, and generous bearing of fruit in the world for the benefit of all. Faith and love constitute a uniform and uninterrupted experience of life in the Church. The practice of ascesis, fasting and philanthropy in the Holy Spirit and communion of the Church comprises a barrier preventing ecclesial piety from becoming a religious idol and barren introversion or individualistic feat.

The Spirit of God blows unceasingly in the Church, where God is forever “with us”. In these holy days of the Great fast (Lent), we are called to intensify our ascetic struggle against selfish attitudes, to be in “constantly waiting in prayer” (Romans 12:12), “living in humility and practising acts of mercy” (Abba Poemen), living virtuously and mercifully, forgiving others and exercising love toward one another, glorifying God as the Giver of all that is good, and thanking Him for His abundant gifts. “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Therefore, we invoke on all of you the strength from above so that we may all, with a burning and cheerful desire, welcome this Holy and Great Lent. We wish you “a smooth journey through the fast” and bestow our Patriarchal blessing to our venerable brother hierarchs in Christ, as well as the beloved spiritual children of the Holy and Great Church of Christ throughout the world.

Holy and Great Lent 2018
† Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God

Patriarchal Encyclical on Holy & Great Lent 2018

Christmas Encyclical Letter 2017 from Patriarch Bartholomew

Patriarchal Encyclical for Christmas 2017
Prot. No. 1123



+ Bartholomew

By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Mercy and Peace from the Savior Christ Born in Bethlehem

* * *

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, dear children,


By the grace of God, we are once again deemed worthy to reach the great feast of the birth of the divine Word in the flesh, who came into the world to grant us “well-being,”[1] remission of sin, of captivity to the works of the law and death, in order to grant us true life and great joy, which “no one can take from us.”[2]

We welcome the “all-perfect God,”[3] who “brought love into the world,”[4] who becomes “closer to us than we to ourselves.”[5] Through kenosis, the divine Word condescends to the created beings in “a condescension inexplicable and incomprehensible.”[6] He “whom nothing can contain” is contained in the womb of the Virgin; the greatest exists in the least. This great chapter of our faith, of how the transcendent God “became human for humankind,”[7] while remaining an “inexpressible” mystery. “The great mystery of divine Incarnation ever remains a mystery.”[8]

This strange and paradoxical event, “which was hidden for ages and generations,”[9] is the foundation of the gift of human deification. “There is no salvation in anyone else; for there is no other human name beneath heaven through which we must be saved.”[10]

This is the supreme truth about salvation. That we belong to Christ. That everything is united in Christ. That our corruptible nature is refashioned in Christ, the image is restored and the road toward likeness is opened for all people. By assuming human nature, the divine Word establishes the unity of humanity through a common divine predestination and salvation. And it is not only humanity that is saved, but all of creation. Just as the fall of Adam and Eve impacts all of creation, so too the Incarnation of the Son and Word of God affects all of creation. “Creation is recognized as free when those who were once in darkness become children of light.”[11] Basil the Great calls us to celebrate the holy Nativity of Christ as the “common feast of all creation,” as “the salvation of the world—humanity’s day of birth.”[12]

Once again, the words that “Christ is born” are unfortunately heard in a world filled with violence, perilous conflict, social inequality and contempt of foundational human rights. 2018 marks the completion of seventy years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which, after the terrible experience and destruction of World War II, manifested the common and noble ideals that all peoples and countries must unwaveringly respect. However, the disregard of this Declaration continues, while various abuses and intentional misinterpretations of human rights undermine their respect and realization. We continue either not to learn from history or not to want to learn. Neither the tragic experience of violence and reduction of the human person, nor the proclamation of noble ideals have prevented the continuation of aggression and war, the exaltation of power and the exploitation of one another. Nor again have the domination of technology, the extraordinary achievements of science, and economic progress brought social justice and the peace that we so desire. Instead, in our time, the indulgence of the affluent has increased and globalization is destroying the conditions of social cohesion and harmony.

The Church cannot ignore these threats against the human person. “There is nothing as sacred as a human being, whose nature God Himself has shared.”[13] We struggle for human dignity, for the protection of human freedom and justice, knowing full well that “true peace comes from God,”[14] that the transcendent mystery of the Incarnation of divine Word and the gift of human deification reveals the truth about freedom and humanity’s divine destiny.

In the Church, we experience freedom through Christ, in Christ and with Christ. And the very summit of this freedom is the place of love, which “does not seek its own”[15] but “derives from a pure heart.”[16] Whoever depends on himself, seeks his own will, and is self-sufficient—whoever pursues deification by himself and congratulates himself—only revolves around himself and his individual self-love and self-gratification; such a person only sees others as a suppression of individual freedom. Whereas freedom in Christ is always oriented to one’s neighbor, always directed toward the other, always speaks the truth in love. The aim of the believer is not to assert his or her rights, but rather “to follow and fulfill the rights of Christ”[17] in a spirit of humility and thanksgiving.

This truth about the life in Christ, about freedom as love and love as freedom, is the cornerstone and assurance for the future of humankind. When we build on this inspired ethos, we are able to confront the great challenges of our world, which threaten not only our well-being but our very survival.

The truth about the “God-man” is the response to the contemporary “man-god” and proof of our eternal destination proclaimed by the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church (Crete, 2016): “The Orthodox Church sets against the ‘man-god’ of the contemporary world the ‘God-man’ as the ultimate measure of all things. “We do not speak of a man who has been deified, but of God who has become man.” The Church reveals the saving truth of the God-man and His body, the Church, as the locus and mode of life in freedom, “speaking the truth in love,” and as participation even now on earth in the life of the resurrected Christ.”

The Incarnation of the divine Word is the affirmation and conviction that Christ personally guides history as a journey toward the heavenly kingdom. Of course, the journey of the Church toward the kingdom, which is not realized remotely or independently of historical reality—or its contradictions and adventures—has never been without difficulties. Nevertheless, it is in the midst of these difficulties that the Church witnesses to the truth and performs its sanctifying, pastoral and transfiguring mission. “Truth is the pillar and ground of the Church … The pillar of the universe is the Church … and this is a great mystery, a mystery of godliness.”[18]


Brothers and sisters, children in the Lord,


Let us celebrate together—with the grace of the divine Word, who dwelt in us, as well as with delight and fullness of joy—the feasts of the Twelve Days of Christmas. From the Phanar we pray that our Lord and Savior—who was incarnate out of condescension for all people—may in this coming new year grant everyone physical and spiritual health, along with peace and love for one another. May He protect His holy Church and bless the works of its ministry for the glory of His most-holy and most-praised Name.

Christmas 2017

+ Bartholomew of Constantinople

Your fervent supplicant before God


To be read in church during the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of Christmas, following the Holy Gospel.

[1] Gregory the Theologian, Oration XXXVIII, on Theophany, namely the Nativity of the Savior, iii, PG 36, 313.

[2] John 10:18.

[3] Doxastikon of the Aposticha from the Great Vespers of Christmas.

[4] Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ, vi, PG 150, 657.

[5] Ibid. vi PG 150, 660.

[6] John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, iii, 1, PG 94, 984.

[7] Maximus the Confessor, Various chapters on Theology and Economy concerning virtue and vice, First Century, 12, PG 90, 1184.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Col. 1:26.

[10] Acts 4:12.

[11] Iambic Katavasia on the Feast of Theophany, Ode VIII.

[12] Basil the Great, Homily on the Nativity of Christ, PG 31, 1472-73.

[13] Nicholas Cabasilas, The Life in Christ, vi, PG 150, 649.

[14] John Chrysostom, On Corinthians 1, Homily I, 1, PG 61, 14.

[15] 1 Cor. 13:5.

[16] 1 Tim. 1:5.

[17] Theotokion, Aposticha of the Ainoi, October 12.

[18] John Chrysostom, On Timothy I, Homily XI, PG 62, 554.



Christmas Letter from Archbishop Gregorios 2017

Encyclical for the Nativity of Christ 2017 PDF Print
Dear beloved in Christ,


The feast of Christmas is in sight once again to remind us of the love and philanthropy of the worshipped in Trinity God. The Only-begotten Word of God takes on flesh ‘through the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary’ and is born in Bethlehem of Judea. The Magi from the East are led by the Star and visit the holy manger, in which the divine Child was wrapped in swaddling clothes, ‘because there was no guest room available for them’ (Luke 2.7). The Angels in heaven chant the hymn of joy, peace and that blessed Hope with which the God-man Christ enriched the world: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and goodwill to all men.’ (Luke 2.14).


We thus celebrate this divine chronicle and commemorate the Event that changed the course of human history. God’s peace was brought to divided humanity, and opposites were reconciled. Both Jews and Gentiles were given the opportunity to reunite with Christ, who united earth with heaven through His humility and sacrifice on the Cross. For this reason, the Apostle Paul writes: ‘For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near’ (Ephesians 2.14–17). The hymnographers of Christmas interpret in a prophetic insight the Mystery of Christ’s incarnation, which the Church treats as its high treasure in prayer, worship and theology. The Church celebrates joyfully these days and chants, ‘comprehending in awe the mystery O’ Lord, the angelic powers were astonished, as You condescended to become a child, You that adorned the stars with the pole and sat in the manger…’ as well as, ‘let us be exalted in Christ, narrating this great mystery’ (hymns of Christmas). The hymnographer thus expresses poetically those secretive occurrences, which took place inconspicuously, far from the eyes of the rulers of this world. Therefore, brothers in Christ, with sacred silence and grace, let us celebrate this year the Mystery of our salvation, for thus shall we experience those mysteries that the Prophets of Israel and the Sages of the ancient world saw ‘through the glass darkly’, while the faithful Christians have been experiencing them divinely for the last two millennia.


May the Ruler of peace, Christ our true God, bring His peace ‘to those far and near.’ May He reconcile the people of all nations, and enlighten all of us to embody the letter and the spirit behind His teaching, He who ‘opened the heavens and descended on earth’ in order to introduce His Gospels to the world; for He ‘made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men’ (Philippians 2.7). The hymnographer of Christmas also writes: ‘Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, shined the light of knowledge upon the world’ (dismissal hymn). Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, being faithful to the orthodox Christian tradition, let us go to the Church these sacred and unique days and partake of Holy Communion. Let us forgive ourselves and one another, let us be charitable to the poor and the sick, let us pray in deep faith and humility, so that the God-man Christ may be formed and rekindled in us and around us. Let us beseech the Divine Child to remain with us ‘all the days of our transitional life’ and grant us His peace and the blessed hope of the Saints and of all those who, throughout the centuries, have experienced the Mystery of the Divine Economy. Praying and partaking in your joy of Christmas, of the New Year as well as of Theophany, I wish you health and the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ upon your pursuits in the New Year 2018, and I remain with warm wishes and with love in the Lord and honour.


London, Christmas 2017

Archbishop Gregorios

of Thyateira and Great Britain