‘The care of creation, seen as a shared gift and not as a private possession, always entails the recognition and the respect of the rights of every person and every people.’
Pope Francis stressed this in a message he sent to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and to the participant in the International Symposium titled ‘Toward a Greener Attica: Preserving the Planet and Protecting its People,’ taking place June 5-8, 2018, in Athens.
“The ecological crisis now affecting all of humanity is ultimately rooted in the human heart, that aspires to control and exploit the limited resources of our planet, while ignoring the vulnerable members of the human family.
Moreover, the Pope stressed, we cannot ignore the ubiquitous and pervasive evil in today’s situation, “where sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature” (Laudato Si’, 66).
For this reason, in our Joint Message on the World Day of Prayer for Creation on 1 September last, we stated that “the urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.”
“The duty to care for Creation,” the Pope said, “challenges all people of good will, and calls upon Christians to acknowledge the spiritual roots of the ecological crisis, and cooperate in offering an unequivocal response.”
The annual World Day of Prayer for Creation, the Pope stated, is a step in this direction, since it demonstrates their shared concern and aspiration to work together in facing this delicate issue.
“It is my firm intention that the Catholic Church continue to journey together with Your Holiness and the Ecumenical Patriarchate along this path. It is likewise,” the Pope continued, “my hope that Catholics and Orthodox, together with the faithful of other Christian Communities and all people of goodwill, may actively work together in local contexts for the care of creation and for a sustainable and integral development.”
The Holy Father expressed his profound gratitude to the Ecumenical Patriarch for involving religious leaders, scientists, politicians, and business leaders in creating an important network to effectively respond to current challenges.
“In assuring you of my remembrance in prayer, I exchange with Your Holiness a fraternal embrace of peace,” Pope Francis concluded.
The Pope also recalled his April 16, 2016 visit to Lesbos, Greece, with Patriarch Bartholomew and His Beatitude Hieronymos II, to express their common concern for the plight of the migrants and refugees there.
“While enchanted by the scenery of the blue sky and sea, I was struck by the thought that such a beautiful sea had become a tomb for men, women and children who had for the most part sought only to escape inhumane conditions in their own homelands,” he said.
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