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Message of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW on the day designated for the Protection of the Environment (September 1, 1995)


[Official translation from the Greek original]

Brothers, sisters and children in the Lord,

We are called once again to celebrate this year, God willing, the beginning of the ecclesiastical year by making special reference, as was established several years ago, to our responsibilities toward creation as it relates to the environment in and around us in general and more specifically toward what is referred to as the inanimate natural environment.

Within the context of the continuous and ever developing ecological concern over the years, the Holy Great Church of Christ, the Mother Church, was blessed again this past year of 1995, in convening an international seminar on the environment which was held on the fragrantly-scented island of Halki in the venerable theological school and monastery of the Holy Trinity.  This year's seminar had as its main theme "Environment and Ethics".  We took advantage of the opportunity to make some appropriate introductory remarks--from the Mother Church's perspective-- regarding the sanctity of creation in general and the lofty responsibility of the human being created in God's image within the whole scheme of creation.

We take this occasion today as well to remind you of what in the seminar we referred to as a temporal sequence in the production of the various species of creation.  This temporal sequence etches in stone our responsibility as temporal administrators of God's creation in the world.

The Fathers of the Church in a manner fitting to God and appreciating the temporal sequence mentioned above taught that every species was created before humankind in order for humankind to enter into a full kingdom and take action as king, priest, and teacher.

We see, therefore, that what might be referred to as the three-fold office of the Theanthropos, the God-man, about which theology speaks at great length, has been given to humankind since inception and by definition from our primval relationships with natural creation.

But what does it mean for us to reign, minister and teach in the vast expanse of creation?  It means that we must constantly study, serve and pray to transform what is corruptible into what is incorruptible to the extent that this can be accomplished throughout our lifetime.

The Church of the Incarnate Word of God continues His redemptive work in a world which is confused and constantly in a state of ambivalence.  Therefore, the Church will never cease to remind the world of these fundamental truths regarding the position and orientation of the human person;  rather, by word and deed the Church teaches the way to life.

We, too,  from the Holy Great Church of Christ, are striving to fulfill this mission with all our strength.  In the context of the celebrations of the 1900th anniversary since the recording of the Apocalypse by St. John on the island of Patmos, we have decided along with our fellow bishops to convoke an International Ecological Symposium which will sail from Istanbul to the sanctified land of Patmos -- where civilizations from the East, West, North and South have crossed for centuries.  The Symposium will attempt to reveal more extensively to the eyes of the modern world the magnitude of creation in general as it was envisioned through God's inspiration by the Evangelist of love, St. John the Theologian.

Thus, invoking enlightenment from above upon all women and men to live and act toward all creation in a God-loving way, having common salvation as our final aim, we pray for peace and undisturbed goodwill over all the earth.

  September 1, 1995

Your beloved brother in the Lord
and fervent supplicant before God,
+ Bartholomew