Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke for the protection of the environment this morning at an event of the Zografeion Lyceum entitled “Environment, School, Society”.
In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch congratulated the contributors of this event, such as the Environmental Education Office of the Directorate, and thanked them for their interest in the new generation, mainly the Greek community, and especially their interest in the environmental issue, which is inseparable linked with society.
He also spoke about the importance of education for cultivating ecological sensitivity, raising the awareness of the size of the problem and assuming the responsibility to take resolute action in response before the ecological crisis turns into an ecological disaster.
He clarified that he did not reject digital communication but urged not to let substitute the machines for the interpersonal relationships, the joy of gathering and dialogue. As has rightly been said: “The machine can not be the regulator of our lives.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch said: “Thirty years have now passed since the Mother Church sent the very first Patriarchal Encyclical establishing the ‘Day of Protection of the Environment’. The Church of Constantinople is at the forefront of raising ecological awareness by organizing, inter alia, seminars and workshops on environmental issues.”
He also stated that the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s concern for the natural environment did not arise from the modern ecological crisis. On the contrary, this crisis was the opportunity for the promotion of the ecological principles and values of Orthodoxy.
He stated that the environmental initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate promoted the global dialogue on the environment, and inspired parliaments and organizations to deal with the ecological problem. He added that it was not only addressed to Orthodox believers, to Christians or believers of other religions, but to every human being of goodwill.
“It is typical that for the impasse and the division of modern man, many fellow human beings dream of the “paradise” of consumer welfare instead of struggling for the creation of a social and ecological culture,” the Ecumenical Patriarch said.
The root of the problem is common, the Ecumenical Patriarch said. It is the alienation, self-admiration, self-centeredness, possessiveness, what in Theology is called “sin,” he said.
He also spoke of the need to support the religious lesson in public schools and to cultivate ecological responsibility and respect for creation.
He stressed that in order to deal with complex and multidimensional modern problems it was required a multifaceted action, political initiatives and administrative measures, and in particular a change in mentality.
The protection of the natural environment is humanity’s shared responsibility. “Orthodox Christians must play a crucial role in this mission, because they are heirs of a tradition where high values have been born, developed and preserved, belonging to what is most valuable to the world’s spiritual culture,” noted the Ecumenical Patriarch.