and Sisters and beloved children in the Lord,
Paul the Apostle to the Nations advised the Thessalonians
to "give thanks 'm all circumstances" (1 These.
5:18), he also counselled them to "always rejoice,
and pray without ceasing" (1 These. 5:16-17), thus
demonstrating that thanksgiving as prayer and everlasting
JOY 90 together and coexist inseparably. Truly, the
one who gives thanks experiences the joy that comes
from the appreciation of that for which he or she is
thankful, and from the overabundance of joy they turn
toward the giver and provider of the good things received
in grateful thanksgiving. Conversely, the person who
does not feel the internal need to thank the Creator
and Fashioner of all the good things of this very good
world, but ungratefully and egocentrically receives
them -when the person is indifferent toward the one
who provided these good things and thus worships the
impersonal creation rather than the Creator (Romans
1:25) -- that person does not feel the deep joy of receiving
the gifts of God, but only sullen and animalistic satisfaction.
Such a person is given over to irrational desires, to
covetousness, and to "robberies from injustice"
Isaiah 61:8) that are despised by God. As a result,
that person will undergo the breaking "of the pride
of his power" (Leviticus 26:19), and will be deprived
of the sublime, pure, and heavenly joy of the one who
gives thanks gratefully.
The belief that every creature of God created for communion
with human beings is good when it is received with thanksgiving
(1 Timothy 4:3-4), leads to respect for creation out
of respect for its Creator; it does not fashion an idol
out of creation itself The person who loves the Creator
of a given work cannot be disrespectful toward it nor
maliciously harm it; but certainly neither does a person
worship it while disregarding the Creator (Romans 1:21).
Rather, by honoring it, one honors its Creator.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate, having ascertained that
natural creation commonly referred to as "the environment,"
which in recent times has to a great extent been maliciously
harmed, has undertaken an effort that strives to sensitize
every person -- especially Christians -- to the gravity
of this problem for humanity and particularly to its
ethical and theological dimension. For this reason,
the Patriarchate has established the first day of September
each year, which is the natural landmark of the yearly
cycle, as a day of prayer for the environment. This
prayer, however, is not merely a supplication and petition
to God for the protection of the natural environment
from the impending catastrophe that is being wrought
by humankind, but it is also in thanksgiving for everything
that God 'm His beneficent providence offers through
creation to both the good and the wicked, the just and
The saints of the Christian Church and other sensitive
souls, illumined by the divine light that enlightens
everyone who comes into the world John 1:9), providing
that he or she sincerely and unselfishly desires to
receive this light John 1:11-12), have acquired great
sensitivity to all evil that harms any creature of God,
and consequently to every element that makes up our
The saints are models for every. faithful Christian
to imitate, and their sensitive character is the ideal
character toward which we all are obliged to strive.
However, because not everyone has this same refinement,
those who are responsible for the education of the people
must continually teach them what must be done. In light
of this, we applaud with great satisfaction the proposal
of the Committee on the Environment of the World-wide
Federation of Organizations of Engineers, which met
in Thessalonike during the Third International Exhibition
and Conference on Technology of the Environment, that
a binding "Global Code of Ethics" for the
environment be drafted.
For its part, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in addition
to proclaiming September 1 as the annual day of prayer
for the environment, successfully organized "Symposium
M the Black Sea in Crisis," in collaboration with
other interested parties. In continuation of this effort,
the Patriarchate established the Halki Ecological Institute,
which was held successfully this year, and which aims
at preparing capable people 'm the countries and churches
surrounding the Black Sea to strive 'm their respective
regions to rouse their leaders and people concerning
the danger of the impending death of the Black Sea and
the general threat of irreparable and harmful damage
to the environment. For this reason, the Patriarchate
is currently preparing a Third International Ecological
Symposium, this time on tile Danube, which is a significant
source of the pollution for Black Sea, and which has
also undergone enormous ecological alterations and disasters
because of the recent dramatic bombings.
In addition to the ecological and environmental disasters
effected by humankind, natural ones have also occurred,
such as the recent earthquakes that have struck Turkey.
Despite the fact that often times the consequences of
these natural occurrences are determined by factors
for which humans are responsible, the Church fervently
beseeches God to show mercy and compassion on human
responsibility, and to show His righteousness and goodness
both to those responsible and those not responsible.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate is fully aware that the
end of the second Christian millenium has been sealed
by sad and exceptionally destructive occurrences which
transpired mainly 'm Yugoslavia and Turkey, but which
also continue to occur in varying degrees in other parts
of our planet. This is principally due to the fact that
the internal spiritual environment of the conscience
of each person has not become good, nor has it changed
for the better by the grace of God, due to the human
ego opposing the beneficent influence of this grace.
For this reason, along with the invitation to all that
they respect the natural environment each for his or
her own benefit since it is a gift from God to all humankind,
the Ecumenical Patriarchate appeals to all that they
amend their feelings toward their fellow human beings.
Only in this way will the eternal, unchangeable, all-compassionate
and merciful God be able to positively influence the
free will of the human person and avert the disastrous
man-made activities upsetting the balance of the environment.
We recognize that heaven and earth pass away, but the
laws of God are eternal and unchangeable as is God Himself.
But we also know that the law of God is found in the
authority of man to determine, to a great extent, the
path his life takes.
For this reason, we summon both ourselves and each other
to work toward the good in all areas, and especially
in the area of the environment, which in the final analysis
is that realm which refers first of all to our fellow
human beings, and then to natural creation.
In closing. we invoke the grace and blessing of God
upon everyone who works toward the good, and upon those
who out of ignorance or human weakness do evil, we invoke
divine illumination and the great mercy of God, so that
they might come to full knowledge and be converted.
September 1, 1999
Your beloved brother in Christ and fervent supplicant
before God, Bartholomew