By Sarah Mac Donald - 02 September, 2014
On Sunday, following the Angelus, the Pope addressed pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square and called on “everyone – institutions, associations and citizens” to “strengthen their efforts so as to safeguard the life and health of people by respecting the environment and nature.”
His comments coincided with Italian Bishops’ Day for the Safeguarding of Creation initiative which this year is focused on the promotion of education in the care for creation.
Separately, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, who holds a primacy among Eastern Orthodox churches, issued an encyclical on the environment on Monday.
In the encyclical, the Patriarch announced that he “is organising an environmental summit next June on the theme of ‘Theology, Ecology, and the Word: a conversation on environment, literature and the arts.’”
He said the aim of the conference is “to awaken the global conscience to the particular and specific importance of the ethical and spiritual dimension of the ecological crisis.”
The encyclical marks the beginning of the Orthodox liturgical year.
Writing that the Church always remains concerned for its children and all that relates to and influences their lives, he stated, “This is why it does not remain unmoved or indifferent by the ongoing and daily destruction of the natural environment resulting from human greed and vain profit.”
Patriarch Bartholomew warned that such turning away from the Lord resulted in turbulence in nature and fracture in its crown, namely human existence, whose very survival is threatened.”