Environment and Communication
July 1, 1996
We do not pretend that we have sufficiently cultivated the ground upon which Churches, religious communities, environmental organizations and scientists can communicate with each other and to the four corners of the earth about the vital issues of environmental protection. On the contrary, we steadfastly believe that, as we discover more and more the truly unbelievable dimensions of the worldwide ecological problem, a long-term programme of complex and concerted studies is required. In the combined, creative synthesis of their conclusions, we may be able to face more effectively the global threats, caused by the irresponsible, if not criminal, behaviour of rational human beings towards the non-rational and immaterial creation. In this creation, God has placed humanity from the beginning “in a paradise of delight,” not only as sovereign, but also as healer and steward. Our destructive management of creation, besides having a practical impact on the quality of life, assumes a critical, moral dimension that constitutes a profound disrespect toward the Creator.
Moreover, the subject of the environment in general, which is being addressed here today, together with the much discussed issue of communication, is certain to open up very important perspectives for the tasks of this present seminar – for which we rejoice personally and most warmly in the name of the Mother Church.
It is clear, that through these words of greeting for the opening of your deliberations, in no way do we intend to prejudice or even to influence substantially the work that has been planned, since indeed we are not speaking here as one of the experts on the subject. It is rather our desire to express a few general prefatory statements regarding the authoritative position of the Church on the whole subject of environment, especially in relation to the development of increased communication, which is of eminently vital significance for us, for the benefit of the whole of humankind and, ultimately, for the glory of God.
In short, it is sufficient to state that, just as it is important for the various systems of the human body (such as the nervous, digestive, and circulatory systems) to communicate with each other in order to maintain good health, the free operation of communication has the same value and purpose. Hence, the entire physical network of varying biotopes and specific geographical ecosystems will be better served not only through the mutual exchange of information but also by the coordination of activities among all those responsible.
Communion and Communication
Let us express this same truth in its most spiritual form, and in a manner greatly pleasing to God. Communion with God in prayer, and solidarity and interaction with one’s fellow human beings in every real situation, render truly blessed the distribution of all the good things of this present world. In the same way, unhindered communication among all those concerned with the management of the ecological realities of the present time is equivalent to the indispensability and the sanctity of prayer. Ultimately, all things created may be connected eucharistically for the praise of the one creator and Father God.
With all our soul, and in the true spirit of prayer and service for the whole of humanity along with the whole of creation, we wish that the blessed efforts and tasks of Summer Seminar on Halki ’96 may bear fruit. We profoundly thank first our respected governmental authorities for the assistance which they have provided. Then, we must thank his Royal Highness, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who, once more, was well pleased to allow us to place this seminar under our joint aegis. Moreover, we thank all those who sent messages of goodwill for this seminar – in particular His Excellency, the Hon. Bill Clinton, President of the United States, who donated on behalf of the American Nation the young tree that we shall plant in a short while as a token of his esteem for the ecological endeavors of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The expressions of support by these esteemed people demonstrate their strong interest in global environmental problems, and indicate humankind’s increasing awareness of looming environmental threats. In this, too, communication has played a vital role.
This support also encourages the Ecumenical Patriarchate to continue in its undiminished and persistent initiatives to mobilize the moral and spiritual forces of the Orthodox Church in order to realize once more the harmony that existed between humanity and nature, to the glory of the Creator. This is because the Ecumenical Patriarchate continues to observe the rapid deterioration of environmental conditions globally, which frequently results in irreversible changes. However, the Ecumenical Patriarchate sees two hopeful phenomena. On the one hand, it recognizes the adoption by the international community of the principles of sustainability in the management of natural resources and a wiser conception of the development process; on the other hand, it appreciates the growing mobilization of people, and especially of the younger generation, in combating threats and managing the planet in a more sensible way.