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

VIDEO MESSAGE by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America (South Bound Brook/Somerset, July 28, 2018)

Your Eminence Metropolitan Antony,
Your Excellency Archbishop Daniel,
Christ-loving clergy and devout faithful of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America, 
Our dearly beloved spiritual children in the Lord,

It is with heartfelt joy that we communicate with you in order to convey our warmest congratulations, as well as those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, on the occasion of the one-hundredth anniversary of the establishment of your communities in the United States of America. The centennial of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America is a testament to the deep faith of the Ukrainian people who have always desired to make the Church of Christ the center and source of their life. This ethos can be traced all the way back to your pious and Christ-loving ancestors who received illumination and regeneration of spirit through the baptismal waters of the Dnipro River. It was truly divine providence which manifested itself in the missionary activity of our Ecumenical Throne. The Mother Church of Constantinople has always remained close to the Ukrainian people and has done so through the centuries by demonstrating particular pastoral care and concern.

During these festive days, which we pridefully concelebrate with you, we especially commemorate in our prayers, as well as honor the legacy of two esteemed brother hierarchs—Metropolitan Constantine and Archbishop Vsevolod of blessed memory. With gratitude we remember and praise their selfless and dynamic ministries in the United States of America. Thanks to their wise pastoral activity, visionary leadership and concern for the spiritual wellbeing of the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in the United States, your communities enjoy the pastoral care, the canonical protection and the deep affection of our Ecumenical Patriarchate. Our sincere desire—while exercising the canonical rights and responsibilities of the Ecumenical Throne—is to heal the ecclesiastical problem in Ukraine and to restore unity to the divided ecclesiastical body there. For ultimately, it is the preservation of the unity of the Orthodox Church as a whole that we unceasingly work and pray for.

On this joyous occasion of the celebration of your centennial, we congratulate you and assure you of our paternal love and commendation. We wholeheartedly encourage you to continue on the journey that began a century ago, keeping in the center of your hearts your love for Christ and for His righteousness, which made this marvellous anniversary possible. May you always remember the words of Saint Paul the Apostle, “rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

May the grace of the Almighty and Benevolent God be with you all.