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Bartholomew I

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople

Excellency Mr President of the Republic of Italy,
Eminencies, Excellencies,
Distinguished representatives of the great world faiths,
Brothers and Sisters,

We are given once again the possibility to meet in this difficult period for the whole of humanity, but at the same time a moment which is propitious to question ourselves, meditate, pray and act to build a better society. A society that is capable of accepting the great challenges of the moment, which do not only concern some peoples or nations, but the whole of our life on this wonderful home, the world. World that is gift of God's mercy.

In order to build the fraternity that leads to peace and justice, respect and understanding, to feel familiar as in a home, we must begin by caring for our common home, within which we all find ourselves, children of this humanity and of everything created by God. The time of ecological fashion, of its idealisation or worse of its ideologisation is over. We need a time for action that has begun.

Certainly numerous nations, movements, currents of thought, scientists or simple citizens of the world have long worked and are working to cure our sick planet. Our Ecumenical Patriarchate has identified for over thirty years the spiritual roots of the ecological crisis. We have had conferences, meetings, seminars, Ecological Charters, but all this has been quickly supplanted by the world health and economic crisis, caused by the current pandemic, which in turn has raised new questions.

The action for the common home therefore must take a new path, it must develop in a different light.  We must subvert a centuries old socio-cultural order and feel the divine fragment within it. 

In the 6th century B.C. the Greek philosopher Anassimène of Miletus introduced the theory of the four elements. A theory that has traversed our entire history and has come down to us. Since the origins philosophers, mathematicians and alchemists have investigated and studied the four natural elements: air, water, fire and earth. All important in the same way, they constantly alternate allowing the harmonious development of life and the regular becoming of the world. The time has come to understand that their relationship with life is such, only if it contains within itself the paradigm of the common home. Without the preservation of the natural environment, without the common home, the four elements belong to cosmic space, but they do not belong to the life created by God. It follows that the common house must be placed on an equal footing with the four elements, since only with it the salvation of the human race and of all creation is possible.

At the same time, the great religions of the world and their sacred texts offer us a very similar picture of God's creative action, at the centre of which there is humanity. Humanity is part of creation with all it contains. In the Christian tradition, man is created in the image and likeness of God and many times this has been interpreted by a certain theology as a kind of supremacy of human beings over the rest of creation. Not a sharing of that "living soul" that is present in the entire creative action of God, but an absolute dominion of the human being over the entire universe. We must also subvert this anthropological order and we must understand that the common house is like a house of mirrors. It is a mirror in which we see our image reflected, like that of each of our brothers and sisters and with us we see every element of creation. Created in the image and likeness of God, we see in us the image of our brothers and sisters  and in every human being we see the divine fragment. Looking at what is around us, we see the divine work contained in it. 

The socio and cultural upheaval that follows therefore, leads us to see ecology as a sign of the presence of the divine in creation. Then we should not speak of ecology as one of the great phenomena or themes of the moment, but as the air we breathe. Humanity can resume its role as a guardian and treasurer of creation: there is no more room for fundamentalism, social and economic injustice, hedonism, selfishness, eager to dominate and the whole of creation will once again participate in the world good. In the Common Home, - εν τῷ οίκῳ, - fraternity and peace are not elements of religious or cultural integrism, but true freedom that makes us understand in this dark hour of the earth that "No one is saved alone".

Thank you