Stavros Papagermanos
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Date:  September 1, 2019


With great splendor, according to centuries-old ecclesiastical order and tradition, on Sunday, September 1, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, was celebrated the Indiction -- the ecclesiastical new year -- and the Synaxis in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos of Pammakaristos, the venerable icon of which is kept in the venerable Patriarchal Church. This day has been dedicated since 1989 to prayer for the protection of the natural environment.

The Message of the Ecumenical Patriarch

In his message, the Ecumenical Patriarch made a special reference to it being the 30th anniversary since the Holy Church of Christ the Great established the Feast of the Indication as “the day of environmental protection.” He recalled that in the framework of his initiative, the Ecumenical Patriarchate addressed not only the Orthodox faithful, but all Christians and representatives of other religions, political leaders, environmentalists and other scholars, intellectuals and all human beings.

“The ecological activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate served as the inspiration for theology to advance prominently the truth of Christian anthropology and cosmology, the Eucharistic worldview and treatment of creation, along with the spirit of Orthodox asceticism as the basis for understanding the reason for and response to the ecological crisis,” His All-Holiness pointed out in his message, and elsewhere he noted:

“The interest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the protection of creation did not arise as a reaction to or as a result of the contemporary ecological crisis. The latter was simply the motivation and occasion for the Church to express, develop, proclaim and promote its environmentally-friendly principles. The foundation of the Church’s undiminished concern for the natural environment lies in its ecclesiological identity and theology. Respect and care for creation are a dimension of our faith, the content of our life in the Church and as the Church. The very life of the Church is ‘an experienced ecology,’ an applied respect and care for creation, and the source of its environmental activities. In essence, the interest of the Church for the protection of the environment is the extension of the Holy Eucharist in all dimensions of its relationship to the world. The liturgical life of the Church, the ascetic ethos, pastoral service and experience of the cross and resurrection by the faithful, the unquenchable desire for eternity: all of these comprise a communion of persons for which the natural reality cannot be reduced to an object or useful matter to meet the needs of an individual or humanity; by contrast, this reality is considered as an act, deed the handiwork of a personal God, who calls us to respect and protect it, thereby rendering us His ‘coworkers,’ ‘stewards,’ ‘guardians,’ and ‘priests’ of creation in order to cultivate a Eucharistic relationship with it."

The Ecumenical Patriarch emphasized that the ecological crisis reveals that our world comprises an integral whole, that our problems are global and shared.

“In order to meet these challenges, we require a multilayered mobilization, a common accord, direction and action. It is inconceivable for humankind to recognize the severity of the problem and yet continue to behave in oblivion. While in recent decades the dominant model of economic development in the context of globalization – highlighting the fetishism of financial markers and magnification of financial profit – has exacerbated ecological and economic problems, the notion still prevails widely that ‘there is no other alternative’ and that not conforming to the rigid validity logic of the world’s economy will lead to unbridled social and financial situations. Thus, any alternative forms of development, along with the power of social solidarity and justice, are overlooked and undermined. 

“For our part, however, we are obliged to assume greater measures for the application of the ecological and social consequences of our faith. It is extremely vital that our archdioceses and metropolises, as well as many of our parishes and sacred monasteries, have fostered initiatives and activities for the protection of the environment, but also various programs of ecological education. We should pay special attention to the Christian formation of our youth, so that it may function as an area of cultivation and development of an ecological ethos and solidarity. Childhood and adolescence are particularly susceptible life phases for ecological and social responsiveness. Aware of the urgency of environmental education, the Ecumenical Patriarchate devoted the Third in its series of international Halki Summits to the subject of ‘Theological Education and Ecological Awareness’ (Istanbul, May 31st to June 4th, 2019) with a view to incorporating ecology and environmental awareness into programs and curricula of theological schools and seminaries. The solution to the great challenges of our world is unattainable without spiritual orientation."

The celebration of the Indiction

This morning the Ecumenical Patriarch celebrated the Divine Liturgy, held at the Patriarchal Church, and concelebrated by a large number of Hierarchs.

Accompanied by Hierarchs of Throne, the Archbishop Anthidonos Nektarios, “Epitropos” of the Holy Sepulcher in Istanbul, clergy, monks and nuns, Archons of the Holy Great Church of Christ, the Ambassador of Greece to Ankara, Mr. Petros Mavroidis, the Consul General of Ukraine in Istanbul,Oleksandr Gaman, and faithful from Istanbul, Greece and other countries.

At the end the established rite of the Indiction was held, in which the Ecumenical Patriarch read the prayer of the blessing of the new Indiction. He then signed the relevant text in the “Codex” of the Great Church, and it was subsequently signed by all the concelebrating Hierarchs.

The Ecumenical Patriarch then blessed the faithful with holy water and gave them his good wishes for the new ecclesiastical year.

-- Read the full message of the Ecumenical Patriarch on the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s website, as well as on the Ecumenical Patriarchate page on FB


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