The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, has called on humanity to fight for the protection of the natural environment in the face of an ecological crisis spurred by financial growth and technological development.
He delivered a message for Sept. 1, observed as the "Day for the Protection of Creation" calling upon "all people of good will to undertake the good struggle for the protection of the natural environment and the establishment of solidarity."
Often referred to as the "Green Patriarch," Bartholomew is the Istanbul-based Patriarch of Constantinople and is considered to be "the first among equals" of all the Christian Orthodox leaders.
In his message he reminded that 28 years have passed since the synodic decree of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to establish the Feast of the Indiction as the "Day of Protection for the Environment."
That is when prayers are offered at the sacred Center of Orthodoxy "for all creation."
A historical patriarchal encyclical from 1 September 1989 invited all Orthodox and other Christian faithful "to lift up prayers of thanksgiving to the Creator of all for "the great gift of Creation" along with petitions for its preservation", reads the text.
Bartholomew emphasized the role the Holy and Great Council, that took place in June 2016.
This "championed and continues to champion the eco-friendly dynamic of our Orthodox faith, emphasizing the Eucharistic purpose of creation, the response of the faithful as 'priest' of creation in an effort to offer it unceasingly to the Creator of all, as well as the principle of asceticism as the response to the modern sense of gratification.
"Indeed, respect for creation belongs to the very core of our Orthodox tradition", he wrote.
Reflecting on the current threats to God's creation, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said, "while it is clear that the ecological crisis is constantly escalating, in the name of financial growth and technological development, humanity has become oblivious to the global appeals for radical change in our attitude toward creation."
He noted that, "The short-term benefits dictated by the rise of living standards in some parts of the world simply camouflage the irrationality of abuse and conquest of creation.
"Corporate business that does not respect the planet as our common home cannot be sanctioned as business at all."
The patriarch noted that people know that nature is not restored and renewed endlessly.
"Yet we ignore the negative implications of 'trading' in the environment," he rued. "This explosive combination of unrestrained commerce and science – that is to say, the limitless confidence in the power of science and technology – merely increases the risks threatening the integrity of creation and humankind."