Climate change action needs both science and faith, says Ecumenical Patriarch

Pope Benedict XVI (R), who is no longer pontiff, sits beside the then Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (L) and Ecumenical Patriarch of Orthodox Church Bartolomeo I at Santa Maria degli Angeli Basilica in Assisi October 27, 2011.  Photo: REUTERS / Giampiero Sposito

Science can inform people about the world but it along cannot reach them to change their commitment and actions to save the planet, says the Ecumenical Patriarch, who leads Orthodox Christians globally.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, considered to be "the first among equals" among Orthodox patriarchs, met this week with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

At Lambeth Palace they prayed and talked privately on issues such as the refugee crisis and persecution of Christians in the Middle East and later joined Anglican and other faith leaders in addressing climate change.

Bartholomew said that protecting the planet for Christians is a "sacred task and a common vocation," when he spoke on Nov. 3 at Lambeth Palace in London. "Global warming is a moral crisis and a moral challenge."

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"Basic human rights such as access to water, clean air and sufficient food should be available to everyone without distinction or discrimination.

"We are convinced that we cannot separate our concern for human dignity, human rights or social justice from the concern for ecological preservation and sustainability."

He noted, "Science will inform us about the world but it cannot reach the depths of our soul and mind."

The Church of England has exhorted its faithful set aside one day each month to fast and pray for the planet in its commitment to creating environmental awareness.

It is also sending a delegation on a 250-mile (400 kilometer) walking "pilgrimage" to Paris in the run-up to the international conference on climate that starts at the end of November, The Daily Telegraph reported.

From Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, France will host the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

COP21 is viewed by many as a crucial conference, as it will seek to forge a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

Checking global warming is seen as essential for humanity's survival.

Patriarch Bartholomew was one of the first world religious leader's to highlight climate change and has done so for many years often using the World Council of Churches as platform and has earned the moniker, "the green patriarch."

The Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of Canterbury, as spiritual leader of the 80-million strong Anglican Communion made a joint statement between Anglican and Orthodox Churches on the theology of the human person.

In a joint communiqué, the two leaders said that the agreement "celebrates what Anglicans and Orthodox affirm together about the human person, created in 'the Image and Likeness of God.'"

They said it, "will form the theological foundation for forthcoming discussions on the practical consequences of these theological presuppositions for addressing the key themes, including the protection of the environment, medical interventions, and questions around family life and ethics."

The statement concluded six years of study on "what Anglicans and Orthodox can say together about the meaning of human personhood in the divine image," the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue said when they agreed on the final text in September.

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