One such consultation was held in Patmos, Greece , to mark the th anniversary of the historic Monastery of St John the Theologian.
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The then Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios assigned Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon as Patriarchal representative to this conference entitled 'Revelation and the Future of Humanity' and organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the support of the Greek Ministry of Cultural Affairs and in cooperation with the local civil authorities.
One of the primary recommendations of this conference was that the Ecumenical Patriarchate should designate one day each year for the protection of the natural environment.
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In , the same Patriarch Demetrios published the first encyclical letter on the environment. This encyclical, proclaimed on the occasion of the first day of the new ecclesiastical calendar, formally established 1 September as a day for all Orthodox Christians within the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to offer prayers for the preservation of the natural creation. A similar encyclical is published annually on the first day of September. In , the foremost hymnographer on Mount Athos, Monk Gerasimos Mikrayiannanites, was commissioned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to compose a service of supplication for the environment.
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Whereas in the past Orthodox faithful prayed to be delivered from natural calamities, they were now called to pray that the planet may be delivered from the abusive and destructive acts of human beings. A month after his election in , Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew convened an ecological gathering in Crete entitled 'Living in the Creation of the Lord'. In the following year, Patriarch Bartholomew called an unprecedented meeting of all Orthodox Patriarchs and Primates at the Phanar, submitting an historical expression of unity and inviting all Orthodox leaders to inform their churches about the critical significance of this issue for our times.
The Primates endorsed 1 September as a day of pan-Orthodox prayer for the environment. In the summer of , the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Phanar for an environmental convocation at the Theological School of Halki. In November , the Ecumenical Patriarch returned the visit, meeting with the Duke at Buckingham Palace where they sealed a friendship of common purpose and active cooperation for the preservation of the environment.
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In June , an ecological seminar was convened at the historic Theological School of Halki, the first of five successive annual summer seminars on diverse aspects of the environment: Religious Education , Ethics , Communications , Justice , and Poverty These seminars, the first held at such a level in any Orthodox Church context, were designed to promote environmental awareness and action, engaging leading theologians, environmentalists, scientists, civil servants and especially students.
In October , the University of the Aegean conferred an honorary doctoral degree on Patriarch Bartholomew, the first of a series of awards and honorary degrees presented to the Patriarch in recognition of his efforts and initiatives for the environment. In , Patriarch Bartholomew was the recipient of the Sophie Prize in Norway and the Binding Environmental Prize in Liechtenstein, each presented to an individual or organization that has pioneered environmental awareness and action.
Convinced that any appreciation of the environmental concerns of our times must occur in dialogue with other Christian confessions, other religious faiths, as well as scientific disciplines, in Patriarch Bartholomew established the Religious and Scientific Committee. Chaired by Metropolitan John of Pergamon, its extraordinary events are coordinated by Ms.
Maria Becket. To date, the Religious and Scientific Committee has hosted seven international, interdisciplinary and inter-religious symposia to reflect on the fate of the rivers and seas, and to force the pace of religious debate on the natural environment. In his opening address, Patriarch Bartholomew noted: 'The earth has been hurt Rev.
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This symposium undertook a concrete case study, visiting the countries that surround the Black Sea and engaging in conversation with local religious leaders and environmental activists, as well as regional scientists and politicians. A direct result of this symposium, the Halki Ecological Institute was organized in June to promote wider regional collaboration and education among 75 clergy and theologians, educators and students, as well as scientists and journalists. This initiative marked a new direction in inter-disciplinary vision and dialogue, implementing the ecological theory of the Religious and Scientific Committee into practice.
Participants traveled the length of the Danube River, from Germany to the Ukraine in the aftermath of the military and ethnic conflict in the Former Yugoslavia. The 'Venice Declaration' is the first joint text of the two leaders on ecological issues. The end of the Cold War has permitted the renewal of political, economic, social, cultural and religious ties between this region and countries comprising the European Union, and the wider world.
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