The 7th ECOTHEE conference was under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and it was organized with the contribution of the Council of European Churches and a dozen academic and religious institutions from all over the world.
About 20 scientists and theologians participated, reflecting on the specific theme of “Reconciliation and solidarity to avert ecological crisis.”
At the opening, the message of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stressed: “To tackle the ecological disaster requires immediate multi-faceted mobilization and a common global effort. It requires binding political decisions, scientific knowledge, the activation of civil society, ecological education and the mobilization of all the forces of the spirit. The Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is the first spiritual institution to emphatically highlight the seriousness of the ecological problem and ecological sins, reveal their religious and moral roots.”
In the message, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the effort to create an "ecofriendly civilization" to address the great challenge of the climate crisis, that "reflects the ambivalence of human's freedom and the contradictions of his civilization,” underlining that, despite the fact that humans face a multitude of problems due to the climate crisis, people continue to destroy its natural environment or commit “geocide."
Dr Louk Andrianos, WCC consultant for the care for creation, sustainability and climate justice, noted that the ECOTHEE-22 is part of a series of biennial conferences that started in 2008 to promote the interfaith and interdisciplinary search of solutions to important environmental problems of modern times.
Nowadays, we are all experiencing the destructive effects of the climate crisis so “the effective collaboration with interfaith institutions and multidisciplinary approaches including natural and social sciences, psychology, philosophy and religious studies are indispensable to develop life changing eco-theology and environmental ethics,” said Andrianos, who also coordinated the event.
Various presentations on Orthodox and Eastern Christian theology focused on the deepening of the concept of ecological sin and metanoia in the search for a new lifestyle that respects the limits of the earth and the dignity of all creation. Interfaith dialogue on environmental ethics brought new insights to the concept of life existence and earth rights with respect to the threats from the fourth industrial revolution in the pursuit of sustainable development.
The search for new technology, and alternative socio-economic structure requires new philosophical and spiritualities based on the concept of a life changing urgent eco-conversion, added Andrianos.
“All believers and people of good should recognize that they have failed to respect the earth and they need to repent and adopt new environmental ethics that contain human greed within its limits for global justice,” he said. “The practice of environmental ethics and eco-conversion should be at the center of theological discourses and in the development of contemporary sustainability policies in order to limit greed and prevent any form of irreversible destruction of creation.”
Such approaches must be prioritized and implemented, Andrianos urged. “Furthermore, it is imperative that we transform our ‘ordinary’ lifestyle into an ‘emergency’ lifestyle for the survival of all creation,” he said.
Antonios Kalogerakis, head of the Institute of Theology and Ecology, stressed the importance of environmental education and sharing of best practices such as the “green parishes project” in the orthodox churches while giving the participants the opportunity to contemplate the outstanding natural beauty in the region of Crete.