My post on an Orthodox Christian witness to the environmental movement has generated an interesting (if at times disturbing) conversation in the comment section on AOI. I’d encourage people to go over to take a look and maybe,if so moved, to offer their own thoughts on the matters under discussion. You can read my post and the comments here.
Especially reading some of the comments there, I become more convinced that it part of the pastoral work of the priest is to be a zealous advocate and supporter of the personal vocation of others. As I pointed out in an earlier post here on totalitarianism in the Church, and again in my most recent AOI comment, I fear that there is a growing tendency among some Orthodox Christians to work against the idea that by virtue of our baptism, we all of us have a unique, personal vocation. In its place of the there are some who seem to desire a conformity and a narrow and rigid style of Orthodox witness.
In any event, please do take a look at the conversation on AOI and at the part of my own offering that I have quoted below my signature.
Where I must strongly disagree, however, is with those who argue that Orthodox Christians ought not to participate in the environmental movement. Certainly there are risks in such participation, but what in life is without risk?
More substantially though, it is simply inappropriate and unacceptable for anyone to say that Orthodox Christians ought not to participate in the environmental movement. As I said earlier (#6.1) such participation is a matter of the personal vocation of the particular Orthodox Christians involved. Again as I said above, Christ has not call me to be His witness to those in the environmental movement. But it does seem that He has called others to this witness and as a priest I am obligated by Christ and my ordination to support and sustain them to the best of my ability in their work.
Publicly, I have been critical of how this witness has been expressed but this is a different matter than saying, for example, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew ought not to bear this witness. Yes, I don’t think it is a good use of HAH’s time or the resources of the Ecumenical Throne. And in all candor I don’t think that there will be much good fruit from his work in this area. But unless HAH is preaching heresy, it isn’t my place to tell him–or any one else–what it is that Christ has called him to do for His sake and the sake of the Kingdom. And this brings me to my last point.
I stand by what I said, there is a growing tendency among some Orthodox Christians–mostly but by no means exclusively converts–to pass judgment on what is, and more to the point is not, an appropriate venue for an Orthodox Christian witness. Such comments are inappropriate and fly in the face of the Gospel and the witness of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
In the Gospels, we see Jesus criticized for His willingness to talk with those who are rejected by the religious authorities of His time. Worse in the eyes of these authorities, He not only talks with sinners, He eats with them and, in so doing, identifies Himself with them and with the joys and hopes, their fears and struggles, sinners though they be.
The willingness of some to limit the witness of the Church to some and to exclude others is sectarianism pure and simple. Worse, it is the sin of pride and reflects a corrupt and corrupting view of the Church and the Gospel.
Again, I have my criticisms of the EP’s participation in the environmental movement as well as Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement, especially the WCC and NCC. I don’t always agree with how the witness is offered but it isn’t my place to say that my brothers and sisters in Christ should not make the effort to bear witness to Christ in these, and other, arenas. That we come to a place where some see it as their place to do so is a sad reflection on our lack of charity.