The Patriarch, the Environment and the Enlightenment

(Here is my response to the recent editorial on the environment by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.  You can read the first part here and the rest at the American Orthodox Institute Blog.)

His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew recently published an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal (“Our Indivisible Environment,” 26 October 2009) in which he argues that “just as God is indivisible, so too is our global environment.”  He asserts that as the “molecules of water that comprise the great North Atlantic are neither European nor American” so too the “particles of atmosphere above the United Kingdom are neither Labour nor Tory.”

On the surface, his words reflect a cultural and intellectual tradition with deep roots in classical, pre-Christian Greek thought (especially Aristotle) as well as Holy Scripture and the teachings of the fathers of the Church (East and West).

His observations also owe much to Scholasticism, those Medieval Catholic scholars wrestled who the relationship between Greek philosophy and Christian faith, as well as the relationship of Christian faith to Judaism and Islam.  To his credit, the Patriarch is also in a discussion with scholars of different faith and intellectual traditions.

There is a difference here worth noting, however, and it is the difference between Christian scholars and scholars of other faith and ideological traditions. At the core of biblical faith lies the “scandal of particularity,” the notion of God’s election of a particular people, the Jews. This notion also lies at the heart of the Christian Gospel.

Read the rest here.

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  • George Patsourakos

    While I agree that a clean environment is important for the world as created by God, I believe that Patriarch Bartholomew may be spending too much of his time overemphasizing the need for a clean environment, and as a result, not spending the time necessary to resolve the problems that prevail in the Orthodox Christian Church. Yes, there are problems confronting the Orthodox Church, although most Orthodox Christians would rather pretend that they do not exist.

    For example, there is a critical need to unify the nine American Orthodox jurisdictions into one united American Orthodox Church. This problem has been existing for decades, and it has reached the point where the American Orthodox jurisdictions have become so frustrated that they are on the verge of establishing a united American Orthodox Church without the approval of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Yet, the Patriarch of Constantinople has done nothing to help this unity become a reality.

    Another problem is that the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to recognize the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), despite the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate allowed the OCA to be independent as far back as 1970.

    Another problem is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been seeking recognition from the Patriarchate of Constantinople for several years, but the Patriarch of Constantinople has refused to recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

    These are just a few of the problems that the Patriarch of Constantinople needs to address. Perhaps he should spend less of his time trying to improve the environment — a feat that should really be achieved by professionally-qualified environmentalists and ecologists — and more time on enhancing the Orthodox Church, so that it may become the loving and harmonious Christian Church desired by Christ.

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  • George Patsourakos

    While I agree that a clean environment is important for the world as created by God, I believe that Patriarch Bartholomew may be spending too much of his time overemphasizing the need for a clean environment, and as a result, not spending the time necessary to resolve the problems that prevail in the Orthodox Christian Church. Yes, there are problems confronting the Orthodox Church, although most Orthodox Christians would rather pretend that they do not exist.

    For example, there is a critical need to unify the nine American Orthodox jurisdictions into one united American Orthodox Church. This problem has been existing for decades, and it has reached the point where the American Orthodox jurisdictions have become so frustrated that they are on the verge of establishing a united American Orthodox Church without the approval of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Yet, the Patriarch of Constantinople has done nothing to help this unity become a reality.

    Another problem is that the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to recognize the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), despite the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate allowed the OCA to be independent as far back as 1970.

    Another problem is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been seeking recognition from the Patriarchate of Constantinople for several years, but the Patriarch of Constantinople has refused to recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

    These are just a few of the problems that the Patriarch of Constantinople needs to address. Perhaps he should spend less of his time trying to improve the environment — a feat that should really be achieved by professionally-qualified environmentalists and ecologists — and more time on enhancing the Orthodox Church, so that it may become the loving and harmonious Christian Church desired by Christ.

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  • http://ThePatriarch,theEnvironmentandtheEnlightenment George Patsourakos

    While I agree that a clean environment is important for the world as created by God, I believe that Patriarch Bartholomew may be spending too much of his time overemphasizing the need for a clean environment, and as a result, not spending the time necessary to resolve the problems that prevail in the Orthodox Christian Church. Yes, there are problems confronting the Orthodox Church, although most Orthodox Christians would rather pretend that they do not exist.

    For example, there is a critical need to unify the nine American Orthodox jurisdictions into one united American Orthodox Church. This problem has been existing for decades, and it has reached the point where the American Orthodox jurisdictions have become so frustrated that they are on the verge of establishing a united American Orthodox Church without the approval of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Yet, the Patriarch of Constantinople has done nothing to help this unity become a reality.

    Another problem is that the Patriarchate of Constantinople refuses to recognize the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), despite the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate allowed the OCA to be independent as far back as 1970.

    Another problem is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been seeking recognition from the Patriarchate of Constantinople for several years, but the Patriarch of Constantinople has refused to recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

    These are just a few of the problems that the Patriarch of Constantinople needs to address. Perhaps he should spend less of his time trying to improve the environment — a feat that should really be achieved by professionally-qualified environmentalists and ecologists — and more time on enhancing the Orthodox Church, so that it may become the loving and harmonious Christian Church desired by Christ.

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