His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, has persistently proclaimed the primacy of ethical values in determining environmental action. His endeavours have earned him the title ‘Green Patriarch.’ In 2005, the United Nations’ Environmental Program proclaimed him ‘champion of the earth.’ In 2008, he was one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People for ‘defining environmentalism as a spiritual responsibility.’ Pope Francis begins his encyclical Laudato Si’ (2015) with valuing the pioneering role of Patriarch Bartholomew.
For Patriarch Bartholomew, responding to global warming is a matter of truthfulness to God, humanity, and creation. The Patriarch believes that the environment is not a political or a technological problem; it is primarily a religious and spiritual issue. He recognizes that ecological issues are intimately connected to other social issues of our times, including peace, justice and human rights, stressing the effects of climate change on people, especially the poor.
Initiatives Green Patriarch
Over the last thirty years diverse initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate represent the conviction of Patriarch Bartholomew that environmental challenges must be resolved in dialogue and partnership with other religious faiths and scientific disciplines.
The initiatives include the establishment of the Religious and Scientific Committee (1995) and the organization of several international, inter-religious and interdisciplinary symposia. In 1997 a symposium on the topic of the Black Sea was held under the joint auspices of the Patriarch and the President of the European Commission. In 2006 a symposium about the Amazon was convened under the patronage of the Patriarch and Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations. In 2007 a symposium about the Arctic Sea took place under the joint auspices of José Barroso (President of the European Commission) and Kofi Annan. In 2012 Halki Summit I had as its theme ‘A conversation on environment, ethics and innovation’. In 2015 there was Halki Summit II ‘A conversation on the environment, literature and the arts’. In June 2018 a symposium called ‘Toward a greener Attica’ was held in Athens. These many initiatives represent the conviction that environmental challenges must be resolved in dialogue and partnership with all people of good will.
Door Dio van Maaren