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

MESSAGE by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada (Saskatoon, August 9-12, 2018)

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 collectively, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of your communities on Canadian soil. The Ukrainian immigrants to Canada, as faithful sons and daughters of the pious Ukrainian people, always sought to organise themselves around the Church, which they rightly considered as the spiritual life-giving source of their existence. Their spiritual life, as well as their social and cultural being, had as its beginning and end the life of their ecclesial communities.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the Mother Church, has always shown its pastoral care throughout the centuries for the Ukrainian people, who were baptized and enlightened directly through the providence and missionary activity of our Ecumenical Throne, in their homeland as well as in the diaspora. It is with deep respect and gratitude that we commemorate as an esteemed hierarch Metropolitan Wasyly Fedak of blessed memory for having brought your communities in Canada under our pastoral omophorion, and we rejoice with you today that they are now enjoying their fitting place within our Ecumenical Patriarchate. We also wish to honor His Eminence Metropolitan Emeritus John, whom we mention in our prayers and praise for his long and devoted ministry, as well as for his exemplary and faithful archpastoral service.

Today, we are particularly involved and preoccupied by settling the current Ukrainian ecclesiastical problem. We desire with all our heart the restoration of unity for the divided ecclesiastical body in Ukraine. As in the past, the Church of Constantinople—while exercising its canonical rights and pastoral care—worked to successfully resolve difficult and complicated ecclesiastical problems, always guided by what is beneficial for the people of God and the preservation of the unity of the Orthodox Church as a whole.

On this day of celebration, we share in your joy and paternally encourage all of you from the Mother Church: the shepherds, to continue their pastoral ministry; the priests, their priestly vocation in the preaching of the divine word; and the laity in the diakonia, to remain faithful to our Life-Giving and Charitable Lord Jesus Christ and to the Mother Church of Constantinople. Rest assured always that we, your Patriarch, love you, keep you close to our heart and pray continuously for your illumination, wellbeing, success and salvation.

While we may not be present physically, we join you in spirit and prayer, and thus offer to you our blessing through our representatives, His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios of Toronto and His Excellency Archbishop Job of Telmessos, for your jubilee celebration, praying that our Lord guide you by his Light and Grace for the continuation of your diakonia to the Holy Church.

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit—together with our paternal love and wholehearted Patriarchal blessings—be with all of you, our dearly beloved brothers and chosen children of the Holy and Great Church of Christ.