Message By His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew On the Occasion of Earth Day

April 2015

Once again, we have a special day instituted in our civil and political world – just as, in the church, we have established September 1st of every year – to recall our responsibility to maintain and sustain the beauty and diversity of the natural creation.

Today, we are well aware of the data and the facts. Unless we choose not to acknowledge and accept scientific reality, then we are called – indeed, we are obliged – to embrace our role to preserve the earth as a gift and resource offered to humanity by a loving Creator.

This planet is a life-giving organism, which is more than plentiful for those who know and practice moderation. In the words of Psalm 103, we address God and pray: “You water the mountains from your chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your miracles. You make grass grow for the cat¬tle, and vegetation for the service of humans that you may bring bread out of the earth, and wine that gladdens people’s hearts, oil to make their face cheerful, and bread which strengthens their heart.”  The earth and humanity are created and intended to exist in a relationship of respect and harmony.

Yet, this is not the reality we experience today. As greed overcomes our communities, consumption increases beyond what the earth can possibly sustain. In other words, the greedy ravage more resources than the earth can ever renew. Possessing the earth in such a selfish way deprives it of its life-giving properties and poses a great threat to the rest of creation. As the earth is controlled by the few, the many are invariably displaced, driven to migration and forced to confront debilitating income inequality, poverty and hunger.

So why do we persist on our self-destructive path? Are we so stubborn that we choose not to understand? Are we so complacent that we ignore the consequences of our lifestyle? Are we so oblivious that we remain indifferent?

This year is crucial as we approach the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris. May we all stand together – in solidarity, determination and decision-making – to steer our world toward a more caring worldview and a more compassionate humanity.