In celebration of the 2021 visit to the University of Notre Dame by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as the thirtieth anniversary of his election, this groundbreaking volume gathers together and introduces eleven important joint statements from the patriarch, addressing diverse topics from climate change to ecumenical dialogue.
As the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, has long been a beacon for strengthening interreligious and interfaith dialogues on the world stage. This volume assembles eleven joint statements initiated by the ecumenical patriarch with prominent global Christian leaders, including Pope Francis, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and Archbishop Ieronymos II. It also includes Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s address at Notre Dame upon receiving an honorary doctorate.
The statements address a wide array of pressing issues, including human rights, the environment, support of migrants, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the relationship between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, frequently referred to as “sister churches.” The book contains a foreword by John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, and an introduction by John Chryssavgis, which provides an overview of the ecumenical patriarch’s long ministry and powerful vision, illustrating his significance both within the Orthodox world as well as on the world stage. Beyond its testimony to the patriarch’s longstanding commitment to interreligious and inter-Christian dialogue, this collection of joint statements has the added benefit of gathering these all-important texts into one convenient place for the first time.
Climate Change: An Ecumenical Imperative
1. On the Importance of Dialogue with Pope John Paul II in Rome (1995)
2. A Code of Environmental Ethics with Pope John Paul II in Venice and Rome (2002)
3. Dialogue of Charity with Pope John Paul II in Rome (2004)
4. Dialogue of Truth with Pope Benedict XVI in Istanbul (2006)
5. Anniversary of a Milestone with Pope Francis in Jerusalem (2014)
6. Confirmation of Common Witness with Pope Francis in Istanbul (2014)
7. Climate Change and Human Health with Archbishop Welby in Istanbul and Canterbury (2015)
8. Responding to the Refugee Crisis with Pope Francis and Archbishop Ieornymos in Lesvos (2016)
9. Standing up to Modern Slavery with Archbishop Welby in Istanbul (2017)
10. World Day of Prayer for Creation with Pope Francis in Rome and Istanbul (2017)
11. A Universal Appeal for a Global Challenge with Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby in Rome, Istanbul, and Canterbury (2021)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is the 270th archbishop of Constantinople. He is the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide.
John Chryssavgis is the author of numerous books and a theologian serving as archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and advisor to the ecumenical patriarch on theological and environmental issues. He is the author of Bartholomew: Apostle and Visionary, the official biography of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and, most recently, Creation as Sacrament: Reflections on Ecology and Spirituality.
John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., has served as the University of Notre Dame’s seventeenth president since 2005. In this role, Father Jenkins has devoted himself to fostering the university’s distinct place in academia, the church, our nation, and the world.
Pope Francis is the leader of the Catholic Church. He was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Argentina and was elected the 266th pope of the Catholic Church in 2013.
Pope Benedict XVI (1927–2022) served as pope of the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013. He was widely recognized as a brilliant theologian and spiritual leader.
Pope John Paul II (1920–2005) was the leader of the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005. He was the second longest-serving pope in modern history and was canonized as Pope Saint John Paul II in 2014.
Archbishop Welby is the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, the principal leader of the Church of England and the ceremonial head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Ieronymos II is the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and the primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece.
“This important collection reveals Patriarch Bartholomew’s consistent and unrelenting concern to connect the Christian faith and Christian moral values with the moral questions that lie behind political choices and challenge governments, churches, and individuals.” —Brian Daley, S.J., author of God Visible
“Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is widely recognized as one of the most significant and influential religious leaders in our time. Those familiar with his writings and addresses will welcome this volume to the library of Patriarch Bartholomew’s wisdom, while those new to his thinking and ministry will find this book an excellent introduction to his work.” —Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M., author of All God’s Creatures
"This important book is both a gift and a challenge to Christians of all traditions and backgrounds, as well as to others who share with us the stewardship of this planet Earth, 'our island home.' In these pages there is much of value for anyone who would dare to follow Jesus and his Way of Love for all of God's children and all of creation." —The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and author of Love is the Way
"It is such a gracious filial duty to celebrate, with this publication, the stalwart figure and the eminently moral voice that His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew is in ecumenical relations, in international policy formulation, and in thinking about care for the earth, our common home. So beautifully do the words of Ben Sirach apply to him: 'a counsellor in his prudence, a seer of all things in prophecy, and a resolute prince of God's flock'! (Sirach44:3–4)." —Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences
"Archdeacon Chryssavgis has had a front-row seat to the remarkable leadership and ministry of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. In publishing this compilation of Bartholomew’s prophetic and courageous statements, Chryssavgis has done a great service for those who stand in awe of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s witness to the power of the gospel and his hope for Christian friendship and unity." —Rev. Austin I. Collins, C.S.C., vice president for mission engagement and church affairs, University of Notre Dame
"Global Initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is an invaluable resource for understanding the life and ministry of a most remarkable hierarch. Therefore, in a very real way, Chryssavgis prepares us for an informed reading of the joint (and hence truly ecumenical) groundbreaking documents that follow." —Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president emeritus of Fordham University
"This book holds considerable, perhaps even immeasurable, riches. These are our prophets—prophets of unity, peace, freedom, sustainability, climate justice, and ultimately, prophets of hope—who refuse capitulation either to a false irenicism or to despair. An essential volume!" —Jennifer Newsome Martin, author of Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Critical Appropriation of Russian Religious Thought
"There is much wisdom in this book for Christians of all traditions." —Christian Century Review
The story of creation presents us with a panoramic view of the world. Scripture reveals that, “in the beginning”, God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment. At first, as we read in Genesis, “no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (Gn 2.5). The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, “in the end”, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph 1.10). Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.
However, “in the meantime”, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behavior towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets—all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs.
The consequences of this alternative worldview are tragic and lasting. The human environment and the natural environment are deteriorating together, and this deterioration of the planet weighs upon the most vulnerable of its people. The impact of climate change affects, first and foremost, those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe. Our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly implies the recognition of and respect for all people and all living creatures. The urgent call and challenge to care for creation are an invitation for all of humanity to work towards sustainable and integral development.
Therefore, united by the same concern for God’s creation and acknowledging the earth as a shared good, we fervently invite all people of goodwill to dedicate a time of prayer for the environment on 1st September. On this occasion, we wish to offer thanks to the loving Creator for the noble gift of creation and to pledge commitment to its care and preservation for the sake of future generations. After all, we know that we labor in vain if the Lord is not by our side (cf. Ps 126–127), if prayer is not at the center of our reflection and celebration. Indeed, an objective of our prayer is to change the way we perceive the world in order to change the way we relate to the world. The goal of our promise is to be courageous in embracing greater simplicity and solidarity in our lives.
We urgently appeal to those in positions of social and economic, as well as political and cultural, responsibility to hear the cry of the earth and to attend to the needs of the marginalized, but above all to respond to the plea of millions and support the consensus of the world for the healing of our wounded creation. We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.