We have many ways of talking about climate change–the language of chemistry and physics, the language of politics, of economics, of engineering. And also the language of faith. Across the religious spectrum–from animist, indigenous, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian traditions, and among many other faiths and spiritual traditions–leaders and laypeople have joined the 350 movment with ceremonies and commitments of every kind.

Very few who have joined in have worked as long and hard in the environmental cause as His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has often been called the ‘Green Patriarch’ for his forthright declaration that environmental desecration is a sin. the spiritual leader of the wold’s 300 million Orthodox Christians, and 207th successor of St. Andrew the Apostle, who founded the Church of Constantinople, Bartholomew has been named one of the world’s most 100 influential people; he has just finished a trip to the United States where he met with President Obama, and also presided over a conference on restoring the Mississippi River to ecological health. So it was a wonderful piece of news when he sent us this message today:

"Breaking the vicious circle of ecological degradation is a choice with which we are uniquely endowed, at this crucial moment in the history of our planet. We have traditionally regarded sin as being merely what people do to other people. Yet, for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by contributing to climate change, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, land and air – all of these are sins. 350 is repentance in action."

To read more about Bartholomew and his views, here’s the text of a recent speech he gave on ecological issues.

And here is a link to a film on the same subject. 

This is precisely the kind of support that helps all of us as we prepare for Copenhagen, and for the round of candlelight vigils on the weekend of Dec. 12. Our deep thanks to the Patriarch.


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