Your Excellences and Graces,
Distinguished Ecumenical Leaders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a privilege and an honor to be among you this morning, not only because you represent a variety of Christian Churches and Communities in London and beyond, but also because you symbolize hope, peace, and reconciliation wherever the Lord has called you to minister. We greet you in the name of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, our heart being filled with joy and gratitude for your presence.
As we stand in your company among this distinguished group of Christian leaders and representatives, we cannot help but think of how crucial ecumenical dialogue is in today’s world. The recent 11th general Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held this past September in Germany, has proven once again the importance of our joint quest for Christian unity as the most visible expression of our common witness to the Christian faith. This ecumenical journey is certainly a blessing and an opportunity for reconciliation, healing our wounded memories, opposing the temptation of self-isolation, and discussing our theological differences.
As you all know, the commitment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Christian unity has always been unwavering and paramount, from the early years of the Ecumenical movement. If we do not place the issue of unity and communion at the center of our commitment, we will lose the authenticity of our relationships and the common goal that brings us together. For that purpose, we have excellent and very talented theologians working on various aspects of our doctrine. Today, we would like to especially commend the members of the International Commission for Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue who have worked so tirelessly, under the co-chairmanship of the Most Reverend Dr Richard Clarke of Armagh, and His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, on many theological issues, and most recently on questions surrounding the environment and ecology. Allow us to make a special mention of one of the pillars of this dialogue, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, who passed away very recently. May his memory be eternal! The 2020 Statement “Stewards of Creation: A Hope-Filled Ecology” is not merely an ecumenical exercise towards theological consensus, it is the manifestation of the conviction that our quest for Christian unity should become a catalyst for social and environmental justice. The Statement closes with these wonderful words: “Therefore Anglicans and Orthodox ask their Churches, all Christians, members of other faith communities, and all people of good will to adopt attitudes of Wonder, Gratitude, and Restraint in order individually and corporately to be filled with wonder at the beauty of God’s creation so that we might be motivated to protect and conserve diverse land, air, and sea ecosystems…” (par.35)
The determination of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in its approach to the ecological crisis is grounded in the principle that we cannot have two ways of looking at the world: one religious and the other worldly. We cannot separate our concerns for human dignity, human rights, or social justice from our concerns for ecological preservation and sustainability. These concerns are closely linked. If we value each individual made in the image of God, and if we value every particle of God’s creation, then we must also care for each other and our world. This vision also inspired the join Statement for the protection of the environment issued together with our two brothers His Holiness Pope Francis and the Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury in September 2021, in which we declared with one voice and one heart: “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.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Friends,
In closing, we would like to thank His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain for hosting this breakfast. We would like to express our gratitude for your presence today. We pray wholeheartedly that the ethos of ecumenical dialogue and reconciliation may continue to be cultivated within all our different Churches by the contemplation of Christ’s presence everywhere, a presence that shines forth in all places, and especially when we come together in His Holy Name in a spirit of love and unity.
Thank you for your kind attention.
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