Monday, December 3, 2012

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople

Patriarch Bartholomew's encyclical of September 1st, 2012 and commitment to environmental activism is the subject of a recent article in the New York Times.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the encyclical:

Beloved brothers and children in the Lord,
         Our God, who created the universe and formed the earth as a perfect dwelling place for humanity, granted us the commandment and possibility to increase, multiply and fulfill creation, with dominion over all animals and plants.
         The world that surrounds us was thus offered to us as a gift by our Creator as an arena of social activity but also of spiritual sanctification in order that we might inherit the creation to be renewed in the future age. Such has always been the theological position of the Holy Great Church of Christ, which is the reason why we have pioneered an ecological effort on behalf of the sacred Ecumenical Throne for the protection of our planet, which has long suffered from us both knowingly and unknowingly.
         Of course, biodiversity is the work of divine wisdom and was not granted to humanity for its unruly control. By the same token, dominion over the earth and its environs implies rational use and enjoyment of its benefits, and not destructive acquisition of its resources out of a sense of greed. Nevertheless, especially in our times, we observe an excessive abuse of natural resources, resulting in the destruction of the environmental balance of the planet’s ecosystems and generally of ecological conditions, so that the divinely-ordained regulations of human existence on earth are increasingly transgressed. For instance, all of us – scientists, as well as religious and political leaders, indeed all people – are witnessing a rise in the atmosphere’s temperature, extreme weather conditions, the pollution of ecosystems both on land and in the sea, and an overall disturbance – sometimes to the point of utter destruction – of the potential for life in some regions of the world.