Protecting children from any kind of violence has always been and should remain an essential message of Christianity, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has told a gathering at the World Council of Churches (WCC) for World Children’s Day.
The patriarch was the keynote speaker at an event involving the WCC and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on 21 November for World Children’s Day at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, a gathering in which young people had a key input.
“It is important to bear in mind that children do not only represent our future but that they are in fact the present upon which the future is being built,” said Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople said his church was one of the founding members of the WCC and the council’s general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, welcoming Bartholomew, noted that in his 2016 Christmas message, he appealed to all the faithful around the word “to respect the identity and sacredness of childhood”.
The patriarch called for inter-generational justice and support to children on the move as spiritual responsibility in his message from the Orthodox Church noting a “surrender of culture to technology” in the world.
“Christians are called to protect children both in society and within their own communities,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and that he was “particularly pleased” with the collaboration established between UNICEF and the WCC on the Churches’ Commitments to Children.
He urged the churches to “undertake initiatives that promote the protection of the environment and subsequently, our children”.
Growth and development
Patriarch Bartholomew said, “The ecological crisis is constantly escalating in the name of growth and development.” He said, “Humanity remains oblivious to the global appeals for radical change in our attitudes toward creation.”
Tveit said that Patriarch Bartholomew is known worldwide as the “Green Patriarch”.
“Today we recognize you, too, as a pioneer in another urgent field: our responsibility to protect and support children, to defend their rights and care for their well-being,” said the WCC general secretary.
“Today, together with UNICEF, we make an important step in trying to open up new avenues and possibilities for Churches’ Commitments to Children,” said Tveit.
Both the Ecumenical Patriarch and the WCC general secretary signed a petition for renewed commitments to child rights.