Wednesday, September 8, 2021

An Orthodox + Catholic + Anglican agreed statement

A Joint Message for the Protection of Creation 

(EP) - For more than a year, we have all experienced the devastating effects of a global pandemic—all of us, whether poor or wealthy, weak or strong. Some were more protected or vulnerable than others, but the rapidly-spreading infection meant that we have depended on each other in our efforts to stay safe. We realised that, in facing this worldwide calamity, no one is safe until everyone is safe, that our actions really do affect one another, and that what we do today affects what happens tomorrow.

These are not new lessons, but we have had to face them anew. May we not waste this moment. We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations. God mandates: ‘Choose life, so that you and your children might live’ (Dt 30:19). We must choose to live differently; we must choose life.

September is celebrated by many Christians as the Season of Creation, an opportunity to pray and care for God’s creation. As world leaders prepare to meet in November at Glasgow to deliberate on the future of our planet, we pray for them and consider what the choices we must all make. Accordingly, as leaders of our Churches, we call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.

The Importance of Sustainability

In our common Christian tradition, the Scriptures and the Saints provide illuminating perspectives for comprehending both the realities of the present and the promise of something larger than what we see in the moment. The concept of stewardship—of individual and collective responsibility for our God-given endowment—presents a vital starting-point for social, economic and environmental sustainability. In the New Testament, we read of the rich and foolish man who stores great wealth of grain while forgetting about his finite end (Lk 12.13–21). We learn of the prodigal son who takes his inheritance early, only to squander it and end up hungry (Lk 15.11–32). We are cautioned against adopting short term and seemingly inexpensive options of building on sand, instead of building on rock for our common home to withstand storms (Mt 7.24–27). These stories invite us to adopt a broader outlook and recognise our place in the extended story of humanity.

But we have taken the opposite direction. We have maximised our own interest at the expense of future generations. By concentrating on our wealth, we find that long-term assets, including the bounty of nature, are depleted for short-term advantage. Technology has unfolded new possibilities for progress but also for accumulating unrestrained wealth, and many of us behave in ways which demonstrate little concern for other people or the limits of the planet. Nature is resilient, yet delicate. We are already witnessing the consequences of our refusal to protect and preserve it (Gn 2.15). Now, in this moment, we have an opportunity to repent, to turn around in resolve, to head in the opposite direction. We must pursue generosity and fairness in the ways that we live, work and use money, instead of selfish gain.

The Impact on People Living with Poverty

The current climate crisis speaks volumes about who we are and how we view and treat God’s creation. We stand before a harsh justice: biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and climate change are the inevitable consequences of our actions, since we have greedily consumed more of the earth’s resources than the planet can endure. But we also face a profound injustice: the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them. We serve a God of justice, who delights in creation and creates every person in God’s image, but also hears the cry of people who are poor. Accordingly, there is an innate call within us to respond with anguish when we see such devastating injustice.

Today, we are paying the price. The extreme weather and natural disasters of recent months reveal afresh to us with great force and at great human cost that climate change is not only a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent matter of survival. Widespread floods, fires and droughts threaten entire continents. Sea levels rise, forcing whole communities to relocate; cyclones devastate entire regions, ruining lives and livelihoods. Water has become scarce and food supplies insecure, causing conflict and displacement for millions of people. We have already seen this in places where people rely on small scale agricultural holdings. Today we see it in more industrialised countries where even sophisticated infrastructure cannot completely prevent extraordinary destruction.

Tomorrow could be worse. Today’s children and teenagers will face catastrophic consequences unless we take responsibility now, as ‘fellow workers with God’ (Gn 2.4–7), to sustain our world. We frequently hear from young people who understand that their futures are under threat. For their sake, we must choose to eat, travel, spend, invest and live differently, thinking not only of immediate interest and gains but also of future benefits. We repent of our generation’s sins. We stand alongside our younger sisters and brothers throughout the world in committed prayer and dedicated action for a future which corresponds ever more to the promises of God. 

The Imperative of Cooperation

Over the course of the pandemic, we have learned how vulnerable we are. Our social systems frayed, and we found that we cannot control everything. We must acknowledge that the ways we use money and organize our societies have not benefited everyone. We find ourselves weak and anxious, submersed in a series of crises; health, environmental, food, economic and social, which are all deeply interconnected.

These crises present us with a choice. We are in a unique position either to address them with shortsightedness and profiteering or seize this as an opportunity for conversion and transformation. If we think of humanity as a family and work together towards a future based on the common good, we could find ourselves living in a very different world. Together we can share a vision for life where everyone flourishes. Together we can choose to act with love, justice and mercy. Together we can walk towards a fairer and fulfilling society with those who are most vulnerable at the centre.

But this involves making changes. Each of us, individually, must take responsibility for the ways we use our resources. This path requires an ever-closer collaboration among all churches in their commitment to care for creation. Together, as communities, churches, cities and nations, we must change route and discover new ways of working together to break down the traditional barriers between peoples, to stop competing for resources and start collaborating. 

To those with more far-reaching responsibilities—heading administrations, running companies, employing people or investing funds—we say: choose people-centred profits; make short-term sacrifices to safeguard all our futures; become leaders in the transition to just and sustainable economies. ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ (Lk 12:48)

This is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to address together the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty, and the importance of global cooperation. Together, on behalf of our communities, we appeal to the heart and mind of every Christian, every believer and every person of good will. We pray for our leaders who will gather in Glasgow to decide the future of our planet and its people. Again, we recall Scripture: ‘choose life, so that you and your children may live’ (Dt 30:19). Choosing life means making sacrifices and exercising self-restraint.

All of us—whoever and wherever we are—can play a part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and environmental degradation.

Caring for God’s creation is a spiritual commission requiring a response of commitment. This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.

1st September 2021

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew                   

Pope Francis                    

Archbishop of Canterbury


  1. Wet finger in the air stuff. It's not even from a 'social gospel' protestant perspective (Canterbury), or a Catholic Integrationist perspective (Pope Francis), rather its from an East Coast Greek-American liberal perspective...a GOA inegrationalism that has learned nothing from the Catholic and Protestant failure(s). Greek/American Orthodox apparently does not have the resources (in talent, experience, etc.) to be the least critical of the latest secular "crises", let alone properly frame said concern theologically and ethically. So in the end this is really just a fundraising effort - a hoora! to the choir (well off liberal GOAmericans) that will then send in checks in...

  2. This is a critically important statement from our Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican leaders. I offer in response a prayer I drafted over a year ago, "A Lament in the Season of Coronavirus".
    Perhaps others may find it a way to root our actions in prayer. The Rev. Susan Creighton, Anglican Anchorite.

    1. The statement is too incoherent and sentimental (in the negative sense) to be "critically important" Mrs. Creighton. It is full of "crafting idols by the might of our minds" as you put it in your lament, namely the modern idols of "crises", secular/ungodly "leaders" (i.e. Glasgow), and perhaps most of all that such technocrats can "decide the future of our planet and its people...", as if they had the virtue and wisdom to correct their own ungodly belief and reasoning that has led us and our culture to exactly where we are. The high priests of the ruins of Christendom are in no position to "lead" us back to virtue.

      I see you were ordained an Episcopal priestess in 1981! Surely there were just a handful of you that early, or had it become normative by then? The last Episcopal parish I attended (in the early 1990's just before conversion to Orthodoxy) was in the jurisdiction of one of five (at least that is the # I remember) Episcopal bishops in the USA who still refused to ordain women. Women's ordination as controversial seems so anachronistic and "quaint" given the belief/worship of Episcopalianism now. Amazing how quickly the sexual/anthropological revolution was accomplished *in the church*, or rather the ruins of it...

  3. Hogwash. Every year...the same hogwash statement. Long ago it was another ice age...then it mutated into Global we have the total global destruction of Climate Change. Perhaps these three can form their own religion and call it "The Greenitarians."

  4. More lukewarm swill, more distraction. As Hamlet upbraided his friends, "Why, any thing, but to th' purpose." Anything but the Gospel, anything but support and encouragement to countless Confessors and Martyrs in Africa, China, various Islamic nations, etc. Anything but the myriad of scandals and outrages currently rife under the rule of the signatories.

    1. Hard to believe is it not, how deeply, uncritically (on its own terms - let alone "Christianly") the EP has drunk of the 'climate crises', and how vaguely yet assuredly it is conflated with "stewardship" and Christian ethic...

  5. Global warming does is not supported by scientific and engineering fact. It is the poiticization of natural phenomena. for example we have known for years that although we have banned leaded gasoline, much of the world had not. just last week there was a news itwem that finally leaded gasoline is nolonger being used world wide. in fact, one of the places where the lead content was the highest was puerto rico. if the politicians were serious about the environment they would ensure that china, india, pakistan, africa and south america we all adhereing to the same standards of europe and the usa. we are not the problem, the third world and their associates are. ISO 14000 - the environmental standard - being appied thoughout the world is one positive step. if the country does not comply, we do not do business with it. it is time that we are nolonger penalized while the rest ofthe world goes free. to me it is our religious leaders responsibly to make sure that we live responsibly and that we are thankful for the blessins that God has given us. what they sponsor, especially black bart, are projects that are not true science and are what we call tree hugger science. as an environmental health and safety professional for over 55 years, i and my associates plied our trades by learning how to function smarter. wind and solar and electic cars that are heavily supported by our tax dollar subsidies are not the answer nor are they a smarter alernative. they are all kiddy science at this point. their environmental life cycle foot prints are greater than those of the socalled "bad" alternatives they seek to replace. we are being fed a politicied phony science, which the general populus soaks up. and it a tragedy when our religious leaders do so also. they are niave and not scientifically literate, as such their oar shouldnt be in an ocean that they cannot safely and sanely maneuver in.

  6. As if any of these hierarchs would call for an end to fossil fuel-intensive globalism in favor of localism and just de-scaling society in general.

    They can call for nuclear power while they're at it but I don't expect that either.

    1. Your right in that they are in no way critiquing modern, globalistic, industrial, technocratic, secularist, and capitalistic society/economy. As you say, they are not suggesting an *alternative* to this way of life, say a "de-scaled" agrarianism or any other such thing.

      Every thought they have, from the nature and understanding of the alleged "crises" to a technocratic solution in the form of (Glasgow) "leadership" comes from *within* this understanding of the world and how to live in it.

      These hierarchs simply take this modern worldview and life and try to sanctify it with theological vague talk of "stewardship". They add nothing to the substance of, well anything - they just bless the status quo and attempt to serve as unwanted chaplains in the sense that modern secular leadership ignores them in any case.

      For their Christian flock, they just point to the world and say "look, help! follow the worlds understanding of itself and way of life in prayer...".

    2. And science and engineering support the fact that nuclear power is the ultimate solution,,,,but the politicians do not support the science because of huge payoffs from the anecdotal community,,,,for example what would the real cost of solar and wind be, if the subsidies were removed? It is time to stop politicizing science and engineering