John Paul II and Bartholomew I Sign Document on Environment

TV Linkup Between Venice and Rome

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VENICE, Italy, JUNE 11, 2002 ( John Paul II and Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople signed a historic joint document on the environment, an event filled with ecumenical overtunes.

The declaration Monday brought to an end the symposium held during a cruise on the Adriatic Sea from June 5-10. The symposium was organized by the Religion, Science and Environment Commission, created by Bartholomew I, who holds the place of honor among the Orthodox Churches.

In the Hall of Inspection of Venice´s Ducal Palace, where the patriarch and other symposium participants (religious leaders, experts, scientists, U.N. representatives) were gathered, the white figure of the Pope appeared on a large television screen. Via an electronic linkup, John Paul II greeted the participants from his private study in the Vatican.

«Our meeting, even if it is at a distance, allows us to express the common will to preserve the environment,» the Holy Father said.

He referred to the religious leaders´ Day of Prayer for Peace that was held Jan. 24 in Assisi. On that occasion, the Pontiff said, addressing the patriarch directly, «Your Holiness responded to my appeal. Today, instead, it is I who have the pleasure of joining you to sign this joint declaration.»

«I am convinced that these exchanges are the Lord´s own true gifts, a way of giving continuity and concreteness to the witness that the world expects from us,» the Pope added.

For his part, Bartholomew I referred to the Bishop of Rome as his «elder brother» in Christ.

The ceremony was moderated by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In his response, the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople concentrated on the dimension of sacrifice, obscured today by a culture that often harms the protection of the environment.

Even on the matter of ecology, «there can be no salvation without sacrifices,» he said. «The cross must be the foundation of any environmental ethic.»

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