In a speech delivered at the Greek Teachers’ Conference, held at the Zografeion Lyceum in Istanbul, His All Holiness spoke of the initiatives of the Holy Church of Christ to sensitize the world community to the need to protect creation and, in particular, The natural environment.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew underlined the importance of everyone’s cooperation for the protection of the natural environment in a speech he delivered on Friday February 22, 2019 at the launch of the Conference âEnvironment, School, Society – 10 Years of environmental actions â, held at the Zografeion Lyceum in Istanbul, in the presence of more than two hundred Greek teachers. The conference was organized by the Environmental Education Office of the Secondary Education Directorate of Western Thessaloniki, with the collaboration of Istanbul High School and many educational and church institutions in Greece.
âWe are proud because the Holy Great Church of Christ will continue at this time to be the first Church, which has brought to light the spiritual and moral dimension of the ecological problem and the ecological potential of the Christian faith. It is important to stress that the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s concern for the natural environment did not stem from the contemporary ecological crisis. This crisis was the occasion and the opportunity to promote the ecological principles and values ââof Orthodoxy. The very life of the Church is an applied ecology, a real respect for the environment. The ecumenical and ascetic ethos, the simplification of life, the civilization of the person and of love dominate here â, underlined the ecumenical patriarch, referring to the countless initiatives taken by the first Orthodoxy Church to raise the question. environmental after a monumental encyclical published 30 years ago, the day of the ecclesiastical year, September 1, was proclaimed “Day of the protection of the environment”.
âThe environmental initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have sparked a global dialogue on the environment and have inspired parliaments, organizations and researchers from the wider scientific world to tackle ecological problems. We addressed ourselves not only to Orthodox believers, not only to Christians or believers of other religions, but to anyone of good will, expressing our confidence in the responsibility of every human being and having high hopes for the possible contribution of all. We consider it particularly important that the new generation responds to our invitations. Young people fight fiercely to protect planet Earth in its function as a true “home” of the human species and of life in general, in order to live the hope of an ecological future for all creation.
âFrom the start, I emphasized the relevance of environmental and social issues. We have demonstrated the social dimensions and the consequences of the ecological crisis for humanity, and especially for the poor and needy. The predominant model of economic growth, which serves profit and delivers short-term benefits, now exacerbates environmental problems and runs counter to social cohesion and the real interests of humanity. And the tremendous advances in science and technology go hand in hand with Titanism and humanity’s sense of superiority over nature, and with faith in the omnipotence of science. The mixture of economics and science becomes more explosive as it is also associated with the spread of individual and social prosperity, and the unnecessary needs of the consumer man.
“It is characteristic of the stalemate and division of modern man that even in this global economic and social crisis, many of our fellow human beings dream of the ‘paradise’ of consumer welfare instead of striving for the establishment. of a social and ecological culture. .
âFor us, protecting the natural environment and respecting our fellow human beings are two sides of the same coin. It is inconceivable that one could take a sincere interest in the man and destroy his house, and vice versa. The way of the future can only be ecological and social. The future belongs to the respect and protection of creation and to the vision of life as a society and solidarity. It is not possible to speak of progress when the environment is destroyed and human nature is altered.
In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch underlined the important role of the educational community and the importance of the ecological orientation that education as a whole should have.
âEducation refers to human freedom, its development and its movement towards good. In addressing the members of the educational community, we do not consider it necessary to say much about education and pedagogy, about the crucial importance of education in dealing with major contemporary problems. It is obvious that education must have an ecophilic orientation and instill ecological sensitivity, responsibility and concern for the natural environment in the souls of children and young people. The destruction of nature begins in the mind of man, and there must be a cure for it.
âIf the ecological perspective is a fundamental dimension of education, and if concern for the natural environment is, as has already been said, at the center of the Orthodox ethos, religious education in schools can and must function as a space for the cultivation of ecology. responsibility and respect for creation. We call on you all to support the teaching of religion and this important function. You, educators, manage childhood and adolescence, during which the work of education is rich, and you lay the bases of the character and the merit of the orientation of the man. You, dear educators and teachers, have a great responsibility for the education of the new generation, for the development of the sense of the sanctity of creation. In this holy mission, you must capitalize on the value and ecological potential of our Orthodox tradition. “
To face the various contemporary problems and protect the natural environment, the Ecumenical Patriarch stressed that it is not enough to cooperate and mobilize all social forces, but in particular, a radical change of attitude and the development of new moral responsibility are needed. .
âModern ecological problems are a dimension of the crisis of an economically-centered, technocratic, individualistic and arrogant culture, a culture of quantitative criteria and numbers, of profit and consumption, of hedonism and of unlimited freedom. The destruction of the environment is the result of a specific choice of economic, technological and social development, which ignores both the human person and nature. For the first time in history, man can destroy life on earth. Nuclear weapons are the paradigm of the pretentious Titanism of modern humans. In view of the fact that today we are going to overstep natural limits, the idea of ââ”measure” – the “best measure” of the ancients – acquires unprecedented timeliness and value. As science penetrates into the depths of the mystery of life and as we manipulate this mystery, the greater will be our responsibility for its protection.
âObviously, dealing with complex and multifaceted contemporary problems requires multifaceted action, political decisions and administrative measures, the mobilization of civil society and, above all, a radical change in our mentalities and the development of a new moral responsibility. . The protection of the natural environment, this common good, is a shared responsibility of all the inhabitants of the earth. Orthodox Christians are the heirs of a great and honorable tradition, which has created, developed and preserved high values ââwhich are among the most precious elements of the spiritual culture of the world. At the top of this scale of values ââis the protection of the human person and his world, the âgood creationâ of God.
His Most Holiness congratulated the organizers of the Conference and earlier expressed his particular pleasure that the purpose of these efforts was âto work with teachers and students in our Greek schools on environmental education, sustainability and sustainable development. , as well as promoting the importance of information, exchange of views and awareness of the social impact of the environmental crisis, as well as the value of ecological orientation for modern man .
âWe particularly appreciate the dialogue, face-to-face meetings, the exchange of views, the taking of concrete common initiatives, mutual understanding and mutual trust. Vivid personal communication is vital in the age of information and the Internet and the exhaustion of the person in the vast cyberspace. We do not reject digital communication, but we call on you not to let machines take the place of personal relationships, the joy of meeting up and talking, the closeness and inspiration created by living society. Technology facilitates communication, but it does not promote human relationships or society. It has been rightly said that âthe machine cannot be our legislatorâ.
Watch a video of His All Holiness’s speech in Greek on the Ecumenical Patriarchate Facebook page.