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MESSAGE By His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew To the Inter-Orthodox Conference held in Crete For the Protection of the Natural Environment (November 5, 1991)

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It is with much joy and deep satisfaction that we greet the inauguration of this Inter?Orthodox Conference on the protection of the natural environment. The convocation of this conference was a particular desire and hope of our late predecessor, Patriarch Dimitrios of blessed memory, who convened it on the decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod, by means of official Patriarchal Letters inviting their Beatitudes the leaders of the Orthodox Churches to send representatives.

The gathering of such representatives at the Orthodox Academy of Crete for this purpose surely already fills the blessed soul of the late Patriarch with joy. However, it also moves us to offer praise to the Lord and express our warmest thanks to all of you, who have gathered from near and afar either as delegates of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches or else as observers from other Churches and confessions and international organizations. We greatly appreciate your favorable response to this initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The importance of your conference hardly needs to be stressed. In his message of September 1st, 1989, the late Patriarch Dimitrios expressed the deep anxiety of the whole of the Orthodox world and of every responsible thinking person concerning the environmental disaster so rapidly overtaking us, for which our thoughtless abuse of God's material creation is entirely to blame. Already “creation groans in travail together,” in the expression of the Apostle Paul (Rom. 8.22), under the boot of human greed. The responsibility of spiritual and political leaders as well as of all people is enormous. Orthodoxy, too, must give her testimony. Your conference is invited to contribute in this respect.

We are present in spirit in your deliberations. Furthermore, we bestow on these deliberations our Paternal blessing, praying from our heart that the Holy Spirit will guide your work to full success so that through this means the holy name of the Triune God may be glorified, the bonds uniting the Holy Orthodox Church may be tied more firmly, and the salvation of humanity, and the whole of creation may also be furthered.

May the grace and infinite mercy of the Maker of every creature be with you all.