Patriarch Bartholomew Urges Leaders to Act Now on Climate Change

Calls For Religious and Political Leaders to Join Together in Protecting Earth’s Resources

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Patriarch Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, sent a message to representatives attending the 19th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw, Poland. The COP is the decision making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Given the recent events in the aftermath of the typhoon that struck the Philippines, the Patriarch expressed his hope that “for prompt practical results” to address the growing escalation of climate change.

“Scientists talk of “tipping points” and “abrupt climate change.” Political leaders talk of the “challenges” that lie ahead. Scripture speaks of human crisis and God’s forgiving grace,” Patriarch Bartholomew said. “All three make it clear that the time will come when we must face consequences; the time will come when it is simply too late.”

Referring to the relevance that a religious leader has on a subject usually left for politicians and scientists to debate, Bartholomew stated that “there are no two ways of looking at either the world or God.” Both the concern for the preservation of the environment and the common good are at equal standing.

“The sensitivity with which we handle the natural environment clearly mirrors the sacredness that we reserve for the divine,” the Patriarch stated.

Citing the Gospel of Matthew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople stated that at the Final Judgement, we will be taken to task not for our “religious observance but on whether we fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, comforted the sick, and cared for captives.” The reckless consumption of world’s resources, he continued, contributes to environmental changes that ultimately affect those who are most vulnerable.

A Spiritual Worldview

Patriarch Bartholomew expressed the need for “a spiritual worldview” on the subject of climate that will assist in making aware the impact on all creation. The focus should be directed to the planet’s needs rather than the wants of the world.

“In our efforts, to contain global warming, we are ultimately admitting just how prepared we are to sacrifice some of our selfish and greedy lifestyles. When will we learn to say: “Enough!” he stated.

“When will we understand how important it is to leave as light a footprint as possible on this planet for the sake of future generations?”

Concluding his message, Patriarch Bartholomew stated that while there may be disagreements in social and political ideology, it is essential that both sides agree and work together protect the earth’s natural resources for the good of future generations.

“It is not too late to respond – as a people and as a planet. We could steer the earth toward our children’s future. Yet we can no longer afford to wait; we can no longer afford to be idle. The world has clearly expressed its opinion; our political leaders must accordingly act with urgency. Deadlines can no longer be postponed; indecision and inaction are not options. We have a choice to make. The time to choose is now,” he wrote. (J.A.E.)

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