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Message of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on World Environment Day
(5 June 2008)

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Today’s celebration of World Environment day is a unique opportunity for all of humanity to contemplate the incomprehensible dimensions of the environmental crisis.  This opportunity extends not only personally to each citizen of the world, but to the world community at large, the business community, and of course to religious and political leaders.  The moment has come to remove our current way of thinking from its pedestal and to reconsider the means by which we interact with this unique world, which the Almighty God left to us with the command “Work and protect”.

Henceforth, it cannot satisfy humanity to remove that which is necessary and profitable from the natural world.  But humanity must maintain to its full potential the renewal of the natural ecosystem through the enrichment of our natural resources.  Humanity unfortunately has transgressed the Divine command for the protection of creation.  We experience the results of this neglectful and avaricious behavior today, as weak-willed spectators of the repercussions of catastrophic climactic changes.  We observe the pollution of fresh and ocean waters, overfishing, the loss of biodiversity, the desertification of soil, the catastrophes occurring in forests from deadly fires, and many more expressions of this unprecedented environmental crisis.

Our Patriarchate, which symbolically celebrates September 1st, the beginning of the Ecclesiastical year, as the Day of Creation, today unites its voice with the environmentally sensitive and active people and institutions throughout this earth, regardless of religious or political beliefs.

Let us understand, beloved brothers, sisters, and children in the Lord, that each of us from our own position must make every effort to confront the environmental crisis.  Let us leave behind whatever differences and problems may have separated peoples and nations throughout the course of history.  Especially let the developed world acknowledge this catastrophe and let it give every available economic and educational assistance unsparingly and unselfishly to those nations which daily confront hunger and are torn apart by civil war.  Let us remember that the pejoratively titled “Third World,” that is to say, those countries which fall short of economic development, do not maintain just cultural riches, but also natural ones, which are critical for the salvation of our entire planet.