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“Demonstrate personal sacrifice” to care for creation, urges Ecumenical Patriarch

“Demonstrate personal sacrifice” to care for creation, urges Ecumenical Patriarch

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during an event at the WCC headquarters in Geneva, November 2018. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

06 June 2019

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, speaking at the Halki Summit III in Istanbul, reflected that all of us are called to serve as priests of God’s creation.

The theme of the summit, being held 31 May-4 June, is "Theological Formation and Ecological Awareness.” The summit is named for the island of Halki, or Heybeliada, on which the first such gathering was originally convened. The summit assembles focused groups from diverse religious and social, as well as civil and corporate sectors, including eminent theologians and speakers from across the ecumenical spectrum.

In a keynote address on 1 June, the Ecumenical Patriarch said that, in light of the ecological crisis, the gathering provides a platform for conversation and promotes an atmosphere of dialogue to discern and foster changes in attitudes and lifestyles.

“Even recently, United Nations scientists once again warned the world about the unparalleled deterioration of our ecosystems, the unprecedented degradation of our rainforests, and the unalterable destruction of our coral reefs,” said the head of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. “Moreover, all of these predicaments are unquestionably and irreversibly generated by human growth and greed.”

Tied to our children’s future

The Ecumenical Patriarch pointed out that, as early as 1989, people were first becoming aware of the challenge of climate change and pollution. “Permit us to propose that the reason for such hesitation and hindrance may lie in the fact that we are unwilling to accept personal responsibility and demonstrate personal sacrifice,” he said. “We have failed to grasp how integrally we are interconnected with the rest of God’s creation, how responsible we are for the protection of our planet, and how critical our choices and actions are for the sustainability of our children’s future.

Theological schools and religious seminaries are the appropriate setting and venue for sowing the necessary seeds to educate and motivate aspiring parish clergy and community leaders, continued the Ecumenical Patriarch.

“We may all agree that churches and religions have a fundamental responsibility and role to play in advancing ecological learning and advocating climate justice,” he said. “Therefore, theological schools and seminaries should be at the forefront of this effort as well.”

We are called to receive the diversity of God’s gifts in a spirit of thanksgiving and offer them back to God, he concluded. “And if all believers are members of a chosen race and the royal priesthood in Christ, then all of us are called to serve as priests of God’s creation,” he said. “In this respect, we must acknowledge the importance of our schools and seminaries in the sacred process of molding ministers and producing pastors, who are sensitive and attuned to the presence of God in every detail of the universe.”

Read the full text of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

The Halki Summit III website

Learn more about the WCC work on Care for Creation and Climate Justice