Message of His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW on the day of the Protection of the Environment (September 1, 2002)
|Protocol No. 756|
+ B A R T H O L O M A I O S
BY THE MERCY OF GOD ARCHBISHOP
OF CONSTANTINOPLE, NEW ROME AND
TO THE ENTIRE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH
GRACE AND PEACE FROM THE CREATOR
OF THE WHOLE OF CREATION
OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
Our beloved brothers and sons and daughters in the Lord,
When in the year 1990 we declared from the Mother Church the First of September of each year as a day of prayer for the environment, it was not envisioned how soon natural conditions would deteriorate on account of harmful human interference and how horrific the losses and damages on human lives resulting from them would be. The recent floods in Europe, India and Russia, as well as those proceeding during the current year and the previous ones in various other parts of the earth, bear witness to the disturbance of the climatic conditions caused by the overheating of the atmosphere of our planet. These disasters have persuaded even the most incredulous persons that the problem is real, that the cost of repairing its damages is comparable to the cost of preventing them, and that there is no margin left anymore for continuing to remain quiet.
The Orthodox Church, being a pioneer in her love and interest for humanity and its living conditions, on the one hand, recommends to us to live virtuous lives, looking for eternal life in the world beyond, heaven, but on the other hand, she does not forget that according to the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, our virtue will not be assessed on the basis of individualistic criteria, but on the basis of applied solidarity, as this is so characteristically described in the parable of the future Judgment. According to this parable, the criterion for accepting one among those saved who inherit the Eternal Kingdom, is the supply of food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, aid to the sick, sympathy to the prisoners and generally the offering to our fellow human beings the possibility to live in our planet under normal conditions and to come to know God so that they too may enter into His Kingdom. This means that the protection of our fellow human beings from destructive floods, fires, storms, tempests and other such disasters is our bounding duty; and consequently, that failure to take appropriate measures for avoiding such phenomena is chargeable to us as an unpaid debt and constitutes a crime of negligence, which incurs a plethora of other crimes, such as the death of innocent people, the destruction of cultural monuments and property as well as regressive progress.
We pray to God to remove natural destructions, which we cannot avert by our own care and foresight, but at the same time, it is our bounding duty to engage in the labor of study and the expense of taking necessary measures for avoiding those disasters that are derived from bad human action.
It is true that a great part of these measures and expenditures cannot be taken from isolated individuals because they go beyond their capabilities. Sometimes, they even go beyond the capabilities of individual states and require inter-state collaboration and even cooperation of the entirety of the human community. Thus, we heartily salute the international consultations on this matter which are taking place or will take place and wish them to conclude their deliberations with unanimous decisions on the measures that should be taken and on their implementation.
Nevertheless, the greatest part of the contributions to the creation of this crises is due to the excessive waste of energy by isolated individuals. Thus, the restriction of this wasteful consumption will blunt the acuteness of the problem, while the constant increase in the use of renewable sources of energy will intermittently contribute to its alleviation. However insignificant the contribution of every individual to the averting of new catastrophic natural phenomena may appear, we are all obliged to do as individuals whatever we can, because only then we shall be able to pray to God boldly to supply what is lacking in our own efforts and possibilities.
Hence, we paternally urge everyone to come to the realization of their personal responsibility and do whatever they can to avert the increase of the temperature on the earth and the aggravation of environmental conditions. We pray fervently to God that He should look favorably on the common effort of all and prevent other threatening disasters on our natural environment, within which He ordered us to live and to fight the good fight in order that we enter the Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.
September 1st, 2002 A.D.