Statement on the Global Wildfires

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 

In recent weeks, our planet has witnessed extreme heatwaves and expansive wildfires throughout the world—from the rain forests of the Amazon and desert regions of Africa, normally snow-covered regions such as the Arctic and Alaska to far away countries from Spain to Siberia. Month after month, we have experienced record temperatures and unprecedented heatwaves, resulting in the destruction of millions of acres and the disruption of millions of people. And the intensity of these fires and storms is progressively increasing and intensifying, mandating critical and commensurate changes on our part.  

Scientists warn us about the threat of such fires to the world’s ecosystems, which are becoming increasingly jeopardized and vulnerable. The impact of these fires could reverberate for generations, affecting soil, infrastructure, and human beings. Trees are vital for the soil, for our survival and for our soul. Trees are not simply valuable for their aesthetic beauty or commercial benefit, but essentially for our defense against climate change. Planting more trees is certainly commendable, but cutting down less trees is perhaps the most compelling response to global warming. 

While this global wildfire crisis may not entirely or exclusively be a consequence or cause of climate change, the calamitous events that the world is now experiencing undoubtedly and undeniably sound the alarm about the urgent and dire repercussions of a rising level of carbon emissions. Therefore, if nothing else, such extreme phenomena compel us to consider the fundamental fragility of nature, the limited resources of our planet, and the unique sacredness of creation.

In our Encyclical that will appear on September 1st, we outline the diverse initiatives and activities pioneered by the Ecumenical Patriarchate over the last thirty years, while observing the fundamental principles and precepts proposed by the Orthodox Church over the last twenty centuries with regard to preserving God’s creation.

We pray for all those threatened or afflicted by the fires in all corners of our world. We call all faithful and all people of good will to consider carefully how we live, what we consume, and where our priorities lie, using the words of the Divine Liturgy: “Let us pay attention! Let us stand with awe!”

At the Phanar, Saturday August 24th, 2019

Μήνυμα τῆς Α. Θ. Παναγιότητος τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριάρχου κ. κ. Βαρθολομαίου κατά τήν τελετήν Ἀναγορεύσεως τοῦ Μακ. Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἀθηνῶν καί πάσης Ἑλλάδος κ. Ἱερωνύμου εἰς Ἐπίτιμον Διδάκτορα τῆς Θεολογικῆς Σχολῆς τοῦ Ἀριστοτελείου Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλονίκης (10 Νοεμβρίου 2016).

Τῷ Ἐντιμολογιωτάτῳ κυρίῳ Μιλτιάδῃ Κωνσταντίνου, Ἄρχοντι Διδασκάλῳ τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου τῆς Ἁγίας τοῦ Χριστοῦ Μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας, Κοσμήτορι τῆς Θεολογικῆς Σχολῆς τοῦ Ἀριστοτελείου Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλονίκης, τέκνῳ τῆς ἡμῶν Μετριότητος ἐν Κυρίῳ ἀγαπητῷ, χάριν καὶ εἰρήνην παρὰ Θεοῦ.

Ἐκομισάμεθα τὸ ἀπὸ λα΄ Ὀκτωβρίου ἐ.ἔ. γράμμα τῆς ὑμετέρας ἀγαπητῆς Ἐντιμολογιότητος, ἐξ οὗ ἀσμένως ἐπληροφορήθημεν τὴν ἀπόφασιν τῆς Θεολογικῆς ὑμῶν Σχολῆς ὅπως ἀναγορεύσῃ εἰς ἐπίτιμον διδάκτορα αὐτῆς τὸν Μακαριώτατον Ἀρχιεπίσκοπον Ἀθηνῶν καὶ πάσης Ἑλλάδος κύριον Ἱερώνυμον, εἰς ἀναγνώρισιν «τῆς πολυετοῦς προσφορᾶς του στὴν Ἐκκλησία, στὴ Θεολογία καὶ στὴν κοινωνία», ὡς καὶ τὴν προγραμματιζομένην διὰ τὴν ι’ τρέχοντος μηνὸς τελετὴν ἀπονομῆς αὐτῷ τοῦ τίτλου τούτου, δι᾿ οὗ ὑμετέρου γράμματος ἐξαιτεῖσθε καὶ τὴν ἐκπροσώπησιν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὴν ἐκδήλωσιν ταύτην.

Περιχαρείᾳ πολλῇ ἀνταποκρινόμενοι εἰς τὴν παράκλησιν ταύτην τῆς ὑμετέρας Ἐντιμολογιότητος, διὰ τῶνδε τῶν Πατριαρχικῶν ἡμῶν Γραμμάτων πρωτίστως συγχαίρομεν τὸν τιμώμενον προσφιλέστατον Ἀδελφὸν ἐπὶ τῇ προσγιγνομένῃ αὐτῷ ἀκαδημαϊκῇ τιμῇ ταύτῃ, τῇ ἀποτελούσῃ δικαίαν ἐπιβράβευσιν τῆς μακρᾶς, εὐόρκου καὶ παγκοίνως ἀναγνωριζομένης προσφορᾶς αὐτοῦ πέριξ τῶν τριῶν ἀξόνων τοὺς ὁποίους ἐπισημαίνει ἡ ἀπόφασις τῆς καθ᾿ ὑμᾶς Θεολογικῆς Σχολῆς, δηλαδὴ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, τῆς Θεολογίας καὶ τῆς Κοινωνίας. Ἄλλωστε, ἡ ἀποστολὴ παντὸς κληρικοῦ, πολλῷ δὲ μᾶλλον ἑνὸς Ἱεράρχου καὶ δὴ τοῦ Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Ἀθηνῶν καὶ πάσης Ἑλλάδος, ἀποτελεῖ ἀπάρνησιν ἑαυτοῦ καὶ παράδοσιν εἰς τὸ Θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ εἰς τὴν πραγμάτωσιν αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ. Τοῦτο ἔπραξεν ἐπαξίως ἀπὸ ὅλων τῶν βαθμίδων τῆς ἐκκλησιαστικῆς εὐθύνης καὶ συνεχίζει νὰ ἐκπληροῖ ὁ ἀδελφὸς ἅγιος Ἀθηνῶν κύριος Ἱερώνυμος, καταξιῶν τὸν τίτλον τοῦ ἐπιτίμου διδάκτορος ὡς ἐργάτης τίμιος, καὶ δὴ κατὰ τοὺς συγχρόνους καιροὺς ποικίλων κρίσεων καὶ ἀποκαλυπτικῶν καθ᾿ ἡμέραν πειρασμῶν καὶ θλίψεως μεγάλης τοῦ ποιμνίου. Ὁ Μακαριώτατος ἅγιος ἀδελφὸς κύριος Ἱερώνυμος διακονῶν ἀπὸ τῆς ὑψηλῆς Λυχνίας τῆς πόλεως τοῦ Ἁγίου Διονυσίου τοῦ Ἀρεοπαγίτου καὶ τῆς Ἁγίας Φιλοθέης προσφέρει πίστιν καὶ ἐλπίδα σωτηρίας εἰς τὸν λαόν, ἀνακουφίζων καὶ παραμυθῶν αὐτόν, διαπιστοῦντα ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς μεριμνᾷ δι᾿ αὐτόν, διὰ τῆς Κιβωτοῦ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας καὶ διὰ τῶν ἀγρυπνούντων ποιμένων αὐτοῦ, οἱ ὁποῖοι ἐξαγγέλλουν ἔργοις καὶ λόγοις, πολλάκις δὲ καὶ γραφίδι, «ἀναστάσεως ἐλπίδα, ἐπαγγελίας ἐκπλήρωσιν, μυστηρίων ἀποκάλυψιν».

Οὕτως ἀποτιμῶντες ἀπὸ τῆς Μητρὸς Ἐκκλησίας τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως καὶ προσωπικῶς τὴν ἀπονεμομένην τῇ Αὐτοῦ Μακαριότητι τιμήν, συγχαίρομεν ἀδελφικῶς καὶ ἀπὸ καρδίας πρωτίστως μὲν Αὐτόν, εἶτα δὲ τὴν ὑμετέραν Θεολογικὴν Σχολήν, γνωρίζοντες ὅτι κατὰ τὴν ἐκδήλωσιν ταύτην τὸν καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς Ἁγιώτατον Ἀποστολικὸν καὶ Πατριαρχικὸν Οἰκουμενικὸν Θρόνον καὶ τὸν ἐλέῳ Θεοῦ Προκαθήμενον αὐτοῦ ὡρίσθη ἵνα ἐκπροσωπήσῃ ὁ Ἱερώτατος Μητροπολίτης Θεσσαλονίκης κύριος Ἄνθιμος, καὶ καταστέφοντες τὴν ὑμετέραν Ἐντιμολογιότητα καὶ τοὺς ἐλλογίμους Καθηγητὰς τῆς καθ᾿ ὑμᾶς Σχολῆς διὰ τῶν ἡμετέρων πατρικῶν καὶ Πατριαρχικῶν εὐχῶν, ἐπικαλούμεθα ἐφ᾿ ὑμᾶς πάντας τὴν Χάριν, τὸν Φωτισμὸν καὶ τὸ ἄπειρον Ἔλεος τοῦ Πατρὸς τῶν Φώτων Κυρίου καὶ Θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

,βις΄ Νοεμβρίου ζ΄