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Church

Patriarchal Message for Beginning of Ecclesiastical Year and Prayers for the Environment

CONSTANTINOPLE – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in an encyclical issued for the beginning of New Ecclesiastical Year and the Protection of Environment, sated among other things that “we rejoice in the repercussions of the ecological initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate not only in the Christian world, but also in other religions, in parliaments and among politicians, in the field of civil society, science, the ecological movements and the youth. After all, the ecological crisis as a global challenge can only be addressed through international sensitization and mobilization.”

The Patriarch added, “we further express our satisfaction that people have definitively understood the immediate connection between ecological and social issues, and especially the fact that the destruction of the natural environment primarily affects the poor among us. The combination of ecological and social activities constitutes the hope for our future because we can only have sustainable development and progress when we are simultaneously concerned about the integrity of creation and the protection of human dignity and human rights.”

He also wrote that, “it is characteristic that today there is an emphasis on “ecological expansion” of human rights. Indeed, people speak of a ‘fourth generation’ of rights -along with individual and political, social, cultural, as well as solidarity rights – which refers to the securing of their environmental preconditions. The struggle for human rights cannot ignore the fact that these rights are threatened by climate change, by the shortage of potable water, fertile soil, and clean air, but also by ‘environmental degradation’ in general. The consequences of the ecological crisis must be confronted above all on the level of human rights. It is self-evident that these rights, in all their aspects and dimensions, comprise an undivided unity and that their protection is inseparable.”

Turning to the war in Ukraine, he also noted that, “it is in this context that we must also include and appreciate the terrible effects created by the invasion of Russia in Ukraine, which is associated with horrible ecological devastation. Every act of war is also a war against creation inasmuch as it is a grievous threat against the natural environment. The pollution of the atmosphere, of water, and earth by bombings, the risk of nuclear holocaust, the emission of dangerous radiation from nuclear plants producing electrical energy, the carcinogenic dust from exploding buildings, the destruction of forests and depletion of arable agricultural property – all these bear witness to the fact that the people and ecosystem of Ukraine have undergone and continue to undergo incalculable losses. We repeat emphatically: The war should cease at once and sincere dialogue should commence.”

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