2 NEW BOOKS ON CLIMATE CRISIS AND CREATION CARE.

Available for pre-order today, two books on the greatest challenge of our time – Climate Change and Creation Care. Originally intended as one volume, the response was such that two large volumes were required to accommodate the academic/expert response.

Over 40 authors from 14 countries and 6 continents, write on diverse aspects of Climate Change. These include, though not limited to, academics and experts from the fields of theology; law; ethics; philosophy; science; medicine; business; animal protection, and from multiple faiths, inter-faith and secular perspectives. The result is a powerful collective voice that recognizes the interconnectedness of ‘all things’ in the natural world and the need for urgent action by governments and individuals alike.

Both books are published together, to be read together. They have the same Foreword by Fr John Chryssavgis, renowned theologian and advisor to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew 1st and the same Introduction by the editor, Dr Christina Nellist.

With COP 26 just around the corner, please circulate the information widely.

ISBN 978-1-5275-7420-5. Order from orders@cambridgescholars.com. Hardback 457pp. For a 25% discount code use PROMO25

ISBN 978-1-5275-7421-2 Order from orders@cambridgescholars.com hardback 440pp. For a 25% discount code use PROMO25

Joint statement on climate change by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch

Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Archbishop of Canterbury join together for the first time in urgent appeal for the future of the planet

For the first time, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion have jointly warned of the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on poverty, and the importance of global cooperation.

Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Justin Welby urge everyone to play their part in ‘choosing life’ for the future of the planet.  

In a joint statement, the Christian leaders have called on people to pray, in this Christian season of Creation, for world leaders ahead of COP26 this November. The statement reads: ‘We call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.’

The joint declaration strikes a clear warning – ‘Today, we are paying the price…Tomorrow could be worse’ and concludes that: ‘This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.’

The three Christian leaders spoke against injustice and inequality, saying: ‘We stand before a harsh justice: biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and climate change are the inevitable consequences of our actions, since we have greedily consumed more of the earth’s resources than the planet can endure. But we also face a profound injustice: the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them.’

The statement calls on people to:

Pray for world leaders ahead of COP26

For individuals: To make meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the planet, working together and taking responsibility for how we use our resources

For those with far-reaching responsibilities: To choose people-centred profits and lead the transition to just and sustainable economies

Read the full statement here.

ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW – “OPEN LETTER TO COP26: ASCETICISM, JUSTICE AND ENERGY” (SEPTEMBER 13TH, 2021)

Your Eminences,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


We are honored to be with you and to participate in the G20 Interfaith Forum to urge G20 members to step up and respond effectively to the most pressing challenges of our time. We are grateful to the organizers for their kind invitation to address this Forum here today. It is the minute before midnight for humanity to go forward together towards a sustainable and resilient future that promises to heal people and our planet. For that, we need to enhance the abundance of our best ideas and through faith to succeed in the decisive race to global net zero and to a culture of solidarity.Do we all have the capacity to hold the global rise in temperature below 1.5 degrees Centigrade by the middle of this century? Will we all be able to mitigate the risks of climate change? Will we all be able to preserve the wealth of nature that nurtures current and future generations? Will we all be able to prevent the ongoing extinction of species and abate the loss of precious biodiversity? Will we all be able to stop violence amongst ourselves and against God’s creation? Will we succeed in ending wars and in eliminating social injustice and the marginalization of our fellow human beings?The answers to these questions are multifaceted.
We are gathered here today, in community, to stand firmly united in the faith that we are capable of succeeding in this essential global task. If we apply pious moderation and utilize respect and humility as spiritual guides to responsible and sustainable production and consumption, we will succeed. Only through such self-restrain, simplicity and μετάνοια, which in Greek literally means, a change of mind, not only internally, within ourselves, but also in praxis and concrete application, in a form of a modern asceticism, ἄσκησις, that is practice, the act of exercising, can we hope to heal ourselves and our world.  
The climate emergency, with all its disruption of our lives and livelihoods on this beautiful but damaged planet, is caused by the conspicuous increase of consumption in various parts of the world. We must free our lifestyles from temptations and the deadening forgetfulness of the conditions for living together justly and well in God’s given solidarity and harmony. Practicing selflessness toward others and caring for the well-being of the community restore peace of mind and soul.  
This is the way to heal our societies. This is the way to heal this beautiful planet which is God’s creation entrusted to us for faithful preservation. When God first created male and female, he honored them as prudent stewards of our natural environment. Such an important responsibility, to care for God’s earthly creation, demands that every single and collective deed is deeply contemplated and considered.
An important part of this journey is already underway. It lies in the direction of commitment to green recovery and twin green and digital transformations. It started at COP 21 in 2015, when prudence prevailed. There we assumed the obligation to work together on limiting global warming to 2 degrees and keeping it as close as possible to 1.5 degrees, as promised in the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Hopefully, the upcoming COP 26 in Glasgow, led by the UK/Italy partnership-presidency and joined by all the participating states will result in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and climate and energy adaptation plans that can move the global environment to the level necessary for the world to reach net zero. In less than 30 years, it is possible to achieve the regeneration of our planet. Imagine living free from fossil fuels. Imagine a world in which we take care of one another. If realized, the attainment of intra- and inter-generational justice and the elimination of abhorrent poverty become possibilities.
We must realize this today because, paradoxically, the Covid-19 pandemic leaves us with a historic opportunity to “build back better.” As we stated just a few days ago in our Encyclical Message on the occasion of the beginning of the new ecclesiastical year for the Eastern Orthodox Church, on September 1st, day, which is also dedicated to prayers for the protection of the natural environment: “We pray for the swift overcoming of the consequences of the ongoing health crisis and for the illumination from above of governments throughout the world, so that they do not return to or persist upon economism, to those principles of organization of the economic life, of production and consumption, of exhaustive exploitation of natural resources, principles that prevailed prior to the pandemic. Further, it is our genuine desire that the dissemination of pseudoscientific opinions concerning the purported dangers of the Covid-19 vaccines, the slander aimed toward specialists of the medical field, and the unfounded degradation of the seriousness of the disease, be terminated. Unfortunately, similar opinions are propagated in regard to climate change as well, its cause and its disastrous effects. The reality is entirely different, and must be faced with responsibility, collaboration, joint actions, and common vision.”
To seize this momentum and take real action, we must realize the seriousness of the problem: unsustainable production and consumption damages the planet and all living species. Our generation has not, until today, sufficiently contemplated the consequences of its eudemonistic drives to experience the sensations of progress and the pleasures of life for some and not for all. As a consequence, the heaviest burden was placed on the lives and livelihoods of people on the frontlines of climate change, who not only are increasingly being forced to leave their homes, but also, especially women and children, become the main targets and victims of human trafficking and exploitation.
The enormous sufferings of climate refugees to save themselves and their progeny from the perils of climate change must be immediately addressed. As our Lord Jesus Christ says in the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40). Displaced victims of the climate emergency endure these tribulations alone and unjustly.
And yet in recent months, many nations have experienced, for the first time, the devastating effects of climate degradation. Floods in France, Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg; burning forests in Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Australia and California; disastrous storms and prolonged droughts throughout Africa—each of these are undeniable results of harms we have inflicted upon our earth. These extreme weather events are our foreseeable destiny, if we insist upon our enmity toward the natural environment.
In this regard, it is crucial for COP 26, which is taking place from 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow, to unify and bind us together in our dedication to heal the climate and protect our planet. Success in this matter requires freeing the future from slavery to wastefulness and unfortunate habits that kill the very prerequisites for the good life for all on of us on earth.
In every Orthodox Liturgy, we ceaselessly pray: “For favorable weather, for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times.” Every time we pray, we are reminding ourselves what needs to be done. We are longing for the moment in which governments globally will shape policies and create plans to safeguard the lives of people and communities threatened and affected by the consequences of the great ecological crisis. New policies must venture beyond the usual, by producing only what is needed in sustainable and non-wasteful ways. In the Orthodox Christian tradition, monastics have modeled sustainable living for generations. Now we are faced with the opportunity to follow their example to live in dignity and joy of a newly found common cause. It is not coincidental that a recently published book, entitled The Monk who became CEO – 1000 Years Athonian Management (Thessaloniki, 2017) became best-seller, by “revealing” the secret of success of the ascetic management implemented by the monastic community of Mount Athos and how it can present a prototype for new strategy and different value orientation in the philosophy of a modern company.

New technologies
In this spirit of modern asceticism, we call the major economies of the world to provide leadership in all these transitions to a green economy. Green economy refers to the well-being resulting from non-wasteful production and from responsible consumption. Green is the color symbolizing the life that God has given to all. Thus, innovative technologies for green transformations can, should, and must be technologies for life.
These technologies must drive the healing of our planet. By enhancing waste elimination, the depollution of water, air and soil, and nurturing our forests and oceans, we are making the major turn towards an ecological economy for the well contemplated communal and global thriving prosperity of all.
Through our contemplations, we can see a world in which coal, oil and gas are left in the bosom of our planet, while we are powering our mobility, production of electricity, heating, cooling, construction, and all our activities on green and clean energy. Such contemplations are not mere day dreamings. There are already well-devised technology solutions for the pressing energy problem. These need to be supported not only by pioneering governments, business enterprises and investments, but they should also be empowered by everyone engaged in the movement for de-investing from fossil fuels and the modes of production/consumption that waste our future. We must now share these new technologies justly and equally throughout the world and invest in them from the South to the North in order to be responsible, accountable global citizens.


Education and Youth
To foster human talents, cultivate the faith of inventiveness, and encourage spirited engagement, it is vital to promote quality education for all, male and female, without discrimination.
Throughout the whole of our lifetimes, we must learn anew and acquire the skills needed to achieve all transformational agendas, from the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development to the UN Agenda for Humanity. Education for such new realities is essential to the dream and the reality of transforming our world to the one world of well-being, sustainability, resilience, responsibility, and justice for all.   
We need to assure that intergenerational gaps do not widen and that the green and digital transformations leave no one behind. Our youth took to the streets, the public squares, and every corner of the earth to ignite collective action aiming for the highest of climate-neutral targets. Bonded and networked by inspiration passed to us from our engaged youth, we are obliged to raise this demand of young men and women to reach global net zero. Our faith and ingenuity, our common devotion and inventiveness, must be brought forth for us all to achieve in community these tall objectives. We need to join in the efforts of young people to accelerate our progress along transformational paths with full involvement of all those left furthest behind. We urge G20 nations to first recognize and then pursue the demands of our young men and women for a sustainable and resilient future.
Thus we must open our hearts and minds to the ambitions voiced by young generations. They are driving present efforts from the expedited achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to reversing harmful climate changes and enhancing general conditions of life. Our younger generation, the largest ever in the history of humankind, will certainly make valuable recommendations at the Youth for Climate Summit to be held from 28 to 30 September in Milan. With truthfulness and sincerity, we plead that the ministers in Milan at the preparatory meeting for COP 26 embrace the visions and proposals of the youth as envoys of the future.

Conclusion
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Unprecedented determination and human energy are required to free us all from enslavement to wasteful living. By devoting the power of our faith and the ingenuity of our minds to the contemplation of solutions, we can escape this bondage. As we are able to heal in community, so we are able as well to mend in community the wrong ways by accepting the goal of the protection of dignity and human rights of all people.  
Therefore, we urge the leaders of the world’s largest economies to be the first to work together and coordinate their actions in support of a sustainable environment and of the common effort for global healing of the climate and for founding a just global society.
Here and now, individual and communal actions, brave and wise steps taken by women and men, by young and old, will empower us to make significant common decisions. We are inspired by a vision of a world united in well-being, sustainability, resilience, responsibility, justice and peace for all. Truly, our shared commitments can heal humanity and its home, its οἶκος, our planet Planet.




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Forthcoming Conference in France – Pt 2 – What Salvation for Animals ?

Samedi 9 octobre 2021, 9h- 17h30 Centre Sèvres, Paris

Scientific research into the sensitivity and intelligence of animals and actions to promote animal welfare raise many questions and emotions. What place should animals have in our Western societies? While the philosophical and legal debate is well under way, religions seem to be far removed from these concerns. Three days of colloquium scheduled for Saturday 29 May, Saturday 9 October and Saturday 27 November 2021 will seek to advance Christian theological reflection concerning the animal question.

Morning

8.45: Welcome/registration

9:15 – 9:30: Presentation of the conference

9:30 – 10:30 am :

Animal subjectivity in the light of neuroscience and ethology

P. Eric Charmetant SJ

Professor of philosophy (Centre Sèvres – Jesuit Faculties of Paris)

10:30 am – 11:30 am

The animal unconscious. Towards a psychology of depths

Florence Burgat

Philosopher, research director at INRAE, assigned to the Husserl Archives (ENS-CNRS-PSL)

11:30-11:45 break

11.45 a.m. – 12.45 p.m.

“We will all go to heaven… all the sheep and all the bandits… and even the dogs and even the sharks. Does the Bible confirm Michel Polnareff’s words?

Didier Luciani

Professor Emeritus (Faculty of Theology and RSCS Institute, Catholic University of Louvain)

12h45-1400

Break – lunch

Afternoon

14:00-14:45

Saving the Animal: Nonhumans in Catholic Theology, Past and Future.

Dr Carmody Grey

Assistant Professor of Catholic Theology, Department of Theology and Religion, (University of Durham, UK)

14:45- 15:30

Animal Salvation in Modern Protestant Theology (*)

David Clough

Professor of Theological Ethics (University of Chester, UK)

15:30- 15:45 -Pause

15:45 -16:30

Man, animals and their possible salvation in an orthodox approach

Pietro Chiaranz

Librarian (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice), Doctor of Theology (Antonianum, Rome) and specialist in Orthodox theology of creation

16h30 – 17h15 Animals: what salvation, what resurrection?

Round table with Jean Gaillard (NDTP) and the afternoon speakers

17.15 – 17.30 Conclusion/synthesis colloquium 2 -Benoît Calmels

(* ) Simultaneous translation available in in person and remote sessions

Traditionally, Christian theology has made little room for animals, often reduced to their usefulness to human beings. Although Christian figures have testified to other relationships with animals, their voices have been little heard. For the past 50 years, animal rights activists, ethologists, philosophers, and even some theologians have taken a different view of animals. This conference will present the state of this research.

The morning will be devoted to research on animal subjectivity and even its unconscious, from a perspective linking ethology and philosophy. Then, we will see how biblical studies allow or not a new view of animals, based on texts that are often unknown.

In the afternoon, European Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox theologians will review research in animal theology over the past 50 years to develop a different conception of the place of animals in God’s plan and the economy of salvation.

Why should we care and rescue animals from harm in human disasters such as the present withdrawal from Afghanistan?

This is a topical question that requires comment from theologians. I focus on the disaster in Afghanistan and the criticism of Pen Farthing. I speak from personal experience of having lived and worked in the region with wonderful people who deal with the daily cruelty to women and children.
To give context, corruption in this region is endemic and cascades from the top down. There is no ‘society’ as we know it, in the world of the poor. Their lives are cheap and women have little if any freedom, as we understand it. The treatment of animals – also the innocents in these situations – is very similar to that found in many other countries. They are not generally treated with care or compassion. Dogs are categorized as unclean. Unfortunately, we in the West also have this idea, especially in religious quarters as many priests will not let dogs into church or church grounds. Cats are tolerated more than dogs who are in the main, kept chained as guard dogs or fighting dogs, whilst strays have stones hurled at them by children/adults if they come close or used as target practise by the local police. That said, there is a small percentage who do care and some of these are criticised in the same way that animal protectionists are in our societies. This then is the brutal backdrop that envelopes this commentary on the question of why we ought to care and rescue animals in situations like Afghanistan.
I can state with authority that there are both Christian and other sacred texts to support the proposition of caring and rescuing animals in such situations. As a Christian, one of our deepest beliefs is that we are made in the Image of God. We believe that our God is good, loving and compassionate. As such this defines, or should define, our beliefs and actions. St Basil states that as God has left nothing, including the little sea urchin, outside of His providence, it naturally follows that we too should be good, loving and compassionate to all of His creatures. Whilst we cannot fully achieve that Image we are, nonetheless, to strive towards achieving a good likeness of it. We know this can be achieved in good part in this earthly realm because the Saints are our exemplars. Many had good and compassionate relationships with animals, be that in the deserts of Egypt or the forests of Sarov in more modern times.
We also find support in our Scriptures such as Isaias 11:6 and Psalm 35:6 (36) where men and animals will be saved. It is however, in the New Testament that we have our most important text for this discussion. In Luke 14:5 (in the original Greek) Christ, in his teachings on the Sabbath, states that we must be above the law in virtue even if that means at times, disagreeing with those in authority who have lost their spiritual acuity. This teaching clearly indicates his expectations of care and compassionate action when the situation arises:
“Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well [pit], will not immediately pull him out on a sabbath day? And they could not reply to this.”
Christ adds the human to His previous teachings in Matthew and Luke and in so doing, evidences his expectation of an equality of care, compassion and most importantly for this discussion, of immediate action to save animals and humans – regardless of the religious teachings or social norms of the day. Christ’s audience not only understood the parable but also the wider context. I use it here to the same effect. Which of you if you see a stray or injured animal will not immediately try to help in some way? Here one could expand the discussion by including the parable of the Good Samaritan, which challenges us to ask who qualifies as our neighbour? All that God actualizes as created beings fall into the category of His neighbour – the ‘other’. Thus, as Image, all created beings should become our neighbours; those of whom we are called/taught to care, nurture and rescue from harm in order for them to flourish and achieve their God-determined telos. This is part of our role as ‘priest of creation’, a phrase so frequently used by Orthodox Christians yet rarely achieved in practice.
That one man, among the many thousands of men and women who fought in Afghanistan, stayed to care for the animals and train the good ordinary people of Afghanistan – many of whom are women – in order to better the lives of both people and animals in that country, is extraordinary. That he tried to save both humans and animals and failed is surely worthy of our respect rather than our condemnation. He stands as a type of ‘kenotic saviour’- something that can be achieved by ordinary people if they are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the good of others – no matter who that other may be. That he is criticized should not surprise us. Why? The fathers are clear – we are in the main, selfish, arrogant creatures who are way short of where we ought to be in terms of caring for others and way short of where we ought to be spiritually, if we are to love as God loves us.
Not everyone can do as this man has done. God has perhaps given them other skills or other burdens but let those of us who have a faith remember some basic truths. We as Image, are to be good, kind and compassionate to all and when we can – when God creates the conditions for us to act for the benefit of others – and this may well entail some form of sacrifice-of-self in order to do so, then we are to act immediately in love for all, rather than criticizing those who try to help others – no matter who that other may be.
Dr Christina

IPCC: Climate change widespread, rapid, and intensifying – Birdlife Cyprus article

In July, during an intense heatwave, Cyprus suffered a deadly forest fire that was the worst to hit the island in decades, killing four people and burning an area of around 55 sq km. Cyprus was not alone in suffering from extreme weather events this summer. In fact, the summer of 2021 was one of the most catastrophic seasons of extreme weather events in memory, with wildfires raging in the Mediterranean, the US West Coast, in Canada and in Russia, devastating floods in Western Europe, Africa, India and China, and severe heatwaves and crippling drought affecting countries across the globe.

Against this backdrop, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published on August 9th the first in a series of documents that will be released in the coming months as part of the IPCC’s sixth Assessment Report. This report, which is the result of a collaboration of 234 scientific authors and has been signed off by 195 countries, brings together the cutting edge of climate science, sets out how humans are affecting the planet, and explores scenarios of what may lie in the future.

According to the IPCC, many of the changes observed in the current climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, while some of the changes already set in motion, such as sea level rise, are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. Crucially, the scientific evidence presented in the report attributes extreme weather events on human activity and human-caused climate change with more confidence than ever before. It makes for an exceptionally worrying read.

Within the next 20 years, the planet is expected to reach or exceed the 1.5°C warming limit set by the the 2015 Paris Agreement, regardless of how radically greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. The findings of this latest report are clear: if humanity is to avoid the worst of the consequences of a warming world, governments across the world must take drastic action. This latest IPCC report is a wake-up call that brings the issue of climate change back to the top of the agenda for governments preoccupied by the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic concerns.

In Cyprus, we can expect that the changing climate will continue to make extreme weather events more frequent, with hotter and drier weather, reduced rainfall, disastrous forest fires, and flooding especially in coastal areas. Climate change is an extremely urgent issue, as the latest IPCC report shows, and it should be made a priority across all government policies. Stricter policies and measures must urgently be put in place to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Crucially, these need to take an ecosystem approach and operate synergistically with policies for the protection of biodiversity. Such nature-based solutions, like the restoration of wetlands, sustainable agricultural solutions and protection of forests, provide multiple benefits for people, biodiversity and the climate.

AIA Replies to the UK Government’s Response to Peter Egan’s Petition to Include Lab Animals in the Animal Welfare Act

This is a new post from the AIA which we belong to and are heavily engaged with as part of our mission to educate Christians and the general public on animal suffering issues, particularly those that are deeply flawed such as the animal testing model.

The UK Government has responded to Peter Egan’s petition – “Change the law to include laboratory animals in the Animal Welfare Act”.

AIA Director Dr Andre Menache has responded to the Government’s comments. (These are shown below in bold type).

Government Response:

The Government believes animal use for research remains important and The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) provides specific protection for these animals..

There is an explicit exclusion under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (AWA), to provide for the legitimate conduct of procedures on ‘protected animals’ for scientific or educational purposes that may cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm. The use of animals in scientific research remains a vital tool in improving our understanding of how biological systems work both in health and disease. Such use is crucial for the development of new medicines and cutting-edge medical technologies for both humans and animals, and for the protection of our environment.

The 1986 Act effectively enshrines animal suffering by means of legal definitions, whereby an animal experiment becomes a ‘regulated procedure’ licensed to potentially cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm to a ‘protected animal’, which encompasses all living vertebrates other than humans, under the responsibility of humans.

Thus, identical acts of deliberate animal cruelty potentially punishable by custodial sentencing under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 are essentially immune from prosecution under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) is the specific piece of legislation which provides protection for these animals:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/consolidated-version-of-aspa-1986

No animals may be used under ASPA if there is a validated non-animal alternative that would achieve the scientific outcomes sought. The protections for animals under ASPA include the need for three levels of licence for such procedures to occur, welfare standards which need to be met, and activities including inspection which assure compliance with ASPA. The Home Office is the department responsible for regulating the use of animals under ASPA. If any activity is found to be in breach of what is permitted under ASPA, then the AWA will apply.

The above statement represents a catch-22 situation : “No animals may be used under ASPA if there is a validated non-animal alternative that would achieve the scientific outcomes sought.”

If the scientific outcome sought is to study the effect of a chemical on a rat, then it is difficult to envisage how a non-animal alternative could replace the rat experiment. However, the use of rats is justified on the unscientific premise that animal models somehow are able to predict human outcome.

Validated non-animal alternatives do exist but are ignored by industry with impunity. Take the example of the human cell based method to replace the rabbit pyrogen test, developed by NIBSC researchers in 1988 (1). This non animal method (the Monocyte Activation Test) was validated in 2006 and yet is still ignored by certain sectors of industry (2). Please could you indicate the legal mechanism within the context of the ASPA that would oblige industry to use an existing validated non-animal method, including the imposition of fines and penalties. If you cannot find this information, it is probably due to the fact that it does not exist.  

Details of how these regulations are administered and operationalised are set out in the Guidance on the operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (ASPA) available at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-on-the-operation-of-the-animals-scientific-procedures-act-1986.

Details of the code of practice for housing and accommodation of animals regulated under ASPA approved by Parliament which form a core pillar of compliance assurance activities under ASPA are available at:
Code of practice for the housing and care of animals bred, supplied or used for scientific purposes – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Animal testing is required by all global medicines regulators, including the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), to protect human health and safety.

The regulatory requirement that all medicines be tested on animals to protect human health and safety is based on outdated laws, dating back to 1946 at the time of the Doctors’ Trial at Nuremberg. Science has moved forward since then by 75 years but the laws have not yet caught up with the science (3). To continue to ignore current science is tantamount to medical negligence (4). 

Without the testing of potential medicines on animals the development, registration and marketing of new, safe, and effective medicines would not be possible. The animal species for animal testing of potential medicines are specifically chosen to give as much human relevant information as possible and to avoid species specific reactions which would not predict human effects. Many products which would not be safe or effective in humans are detected through animal testing thus avoiding harm to humans. Potential medicines fail in development for many reasons but the fact that medicines are stopped in development for reasons other than unsatisfactory animal testing does not mean that the testing is not essential.

Extraordinary claims (those above) require extraordinary evidence. Yet you have not provided a single peer reviewed scientific reference to support your claims. In contrast, there is a vast body of evidence-based science to demonstrate that no animal species can predict human response with respect to drug development or human diseases (5, 6, 7, 8).

The Government has a policy to limit the number of animals used in science through replacement, reduction, and refinement of research design – the ‘3Rs’. Applicants for licences must demonstrate that they have considered using non-animal alternatives as far as possible. Meanwhile the Government actively supports and funds the development and dissemination of  techniques that replace, reduce and refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs).  This is achieved primarily through funding for the National Centre for the 3Rs (NC3Rs), which works nationally and internationally to drive the uptake of 3Rs technologies and ensure that advances in the 3Rs are reflected in animal research policy, practice and regulations.  NC3Rs has committed £100 million. This includes almost £27 million in contracts through its CRACK IT Challenges scheme to UK and EU-based institutions, mainly focusing on new approaches for the safety assessment of pharmaceuticals and chemicals that reduce the use of animals. 

From the 22 completed CRACK IT Challenges, 12 new products and services have been delivered for industrial and academic end-users. These include miniature wireless devices for recording neural activity in mice; novel human-relevant microphysiological systems and organ on-a-chip platforms for kidney, cardiac and neuronal toxicity assessment; and AI/ in silico modelling platforms for infection, welfare monitoring and toxicology studies. The MHRA work closely with the NC3Rs, bringing together stakeholders in academia, industry, government and animal welfare organisations to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas, and the translation of research findings into practice that benefits animals and science.

The 3Rs concept was indeed innovative when it was proposed in 1959. Today, the 3Rs concept is out of step with current science and technology

The NC3Rs was launched in 2004 with an annual budget of £696k from the Department of Trade and Industry, the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)) and the Home Office (hence taxpayer money). Since then the budget has grown considerably, totalling five million pounds in research grants in 2017.

The stated mission of the NC3Rs is to “drive scientific and technological developments that replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in research (the 3Rs); ensure animal experiments are as robust and reproducible as possible; and provide the best welfare for laboratory animals”.

According to official Home Office statistics, a total of 2,778,692 animals were used in scientific procedures in 2004 (the year the NC3Rs was launched). This figure has risen by almost one million animals to reach 3,721,744 in 2017. Clearly, the NC3Rs mission to “replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in research” has been a huge disappointment.

Equally alarming is the fact that in 2017, the annual report of the NC3Rs acknowledged the “ongoing reproducibility crisis and concerns about the reliability of animal research”.

The fact that 85% of animal study results cannot be reproduced by other research teams (and sometimes even by the same research team) is a huge embarrassment to the animal research community (9). Could it get any worse ? Yes, because even if the methodology used to conduct the animal experiments was carried out to the letter, the results obtained would still not be predictive of human outcome, due to species differences between animals and humans (10).

Fortunately for the researchers, the public is unaware of this state of affairs, otherwise taxpayer funding and support for animal experiments would dry up very quickly.

It should be noted that the emphasis at the NC3Rs is not the replacement of animals as can be seen in their 2012 report, in which grants for replacement accounted for 33% of total funding. 

In other words, two-thirds of their budget is allocated to reduction and refinement of animal experiments, rather than actual replacement. Following are some examples of the research projects funded by the NC3Rs in the fields of reduction and refinement:

  • Researchers at Newcastle University were awarded £247,800 to study the assessment of pain using facial expressions in laboratory mice, rats, rabbits and macaques. The same University received £484,656 to assess pain in macaque monkeys used in neuroscience experiments and again (£380,748) to study the welfare of mice used in cancer research.
  • Researchers at Imperial College, London, received £270,784 to study bacterial infections in mice.
  • A researcher at Aston University received £152,048 to develop a less painful model of epilepsy in rats.
  • The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was awarded £317,995 to study malaria in mice. Researchers at the University of Sheffield received £353,324 to study the relationship between nerve activity and blood flow in the brain of zebra fish.

We do not need three Rs, the only R required for human medical advancement is that of full replacement of a broken system by one that is relevant and predictive for human medicine. The sooner this message is understood and acted upon by society and government, the better for all concerned – human and animal.

To conclude the Government has no plans to amend the Animal Welfare Act (2006). We consider enabling the properly regulated use of animals in science is essential to improving the health and lives of humans and animals and to the safety and sustainability of our environment. Underpinning this is a strong commitment to a rigorous regulatory framework that fully implements the 3Rs and the continued development of non-animal alternatives.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The debate surrounding animal experiments will not go away until it is dealt with in a responsible and transparent manner. The main reason that animal researchers have managed to pursue their careers for so long is because of a lack of any scientific audit of their work. The general public and most members of parliament do not have the science background necessary to challenge the validity of the claims made by animal researchers. When faced with the mantra that animal research is a “necessary evil” the public has no choice but to accept the promises of future cures for human diseases.

One way forward is EDM 175, which calls on the UK Government to mandate a rigorous public scientific hearing, judged by independent experts from the relevant science fields, to stop the funding of the now proven failed practice of animal experimentation and increase funding for state-of-the-art human-based research, such as human-on-a-chip and gene-based medicine, to prioritise treatments and cures for human patients and stop the suffering of laboratory dogs and other animals (11).

Click this link to view the response online:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/591775?reveal_response=yes

The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.

The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee: https://petition.parliament.uk/help#petitions-committee

Thanks,
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament

References for AIA Response:

  1. https://www.nibsc.org/science_and_research/biotherapeutics/cellular_immunology/pyrogenic_pro-inflammatory_activities.aspx
  2. https://www.altex.org/index.php/altex/article/view/2234
  3. https://bmcmedethics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6939-13-16
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26364776/
  5. https://peh-med.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1747-5341-4-2
  6. https://www.bmj.com/content/348/bmj.g3387
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14988196/
  8. https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/full/10.2217/pme.11.89
  9. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73503-4
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23372426/
  11. https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/58611/public-scientific-hearing-on-animal-experiments

Ecological repentance (‘metanoia’) from our ecological sins

His Eminence Archbishop Serafim of Zimbabwe
The Patriarchate of Alexandria

English translation of Sermon given on 5 July 2021

In today’s gospel (Matthew 4, 18-23) we read that four of the most important disciples of Christ, they follow him at his call. They abandon everything without hesitation and doubt. They sacrifice everything to become Disciples of Christ.

    In the global crisis we live in, with pandemics and the ecological disasters of our planet, perhaps we should add to today’s Gospel reading the verse of Matthew 4, 17 which the Apostle Matthew very wisely included as an introduction to this day’s Gospel reading. This verse is very important for many reasons. First, it emphasizes the beginning of the preaching of Jesus Christ. And second the first thing that he emphasized is “Repentance (metanoia)” and the Kingdom of Heaven. “From then on, Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the kingdom of heaven is near”. 

    The preaching of repentance (metanoia) leads to a new way of life and a new way of thinking. It is also the first thing that St. John the Forerunner emphasized, who by the Providence of God prepared the way for Jesus Christ. The preaching of repentance is also emphasized by the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost, which is considered the Birthday of the Church (“Repent” Acts 2,38). 

    The life of the first Christian community that lived in repentance is a living example for modern society, to protect the victims of climate change from our ecological sins. “No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had…. There were no needy persons among them” (Acts 4, 32-34). 

    The preaching of repentance is emphasized again on the day of the Ascension of Jesus Christ, (“repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name” (Luke 24, 47). 

    The scientific community of the United Nations in its study of Climate Change emphasizes that human actions are the main cause and humans are responsible for the pollution of the atmosphere and the ecological disasters that threaten the survival of humanity and the destruction of our planet. The only way to change things and  protect Humanity, and ensure hope for the future is to repent of our ecological sins and start living a new way of life with a new way of thinking, in the example of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. 

    We must protect our fellow human beings and the whole Creation of God, as it is a gift for all future generations. St. John the Baptist calls us to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3, 8), with our well-intended decision to share what we have with those who have nothing,  “ he who has two tunics, give one to him who does not have, and he who has food to do the same” (Luke 2,11).
    
    The Book of Genesis, in describing the Creation of the world and the flood of Noah, clearly states that the causes of destruction of our planet come from human corruption;  that is, from all the injustices we commit against our fellow human beings (Genesis 6, 10-13).

    Our Church, in order to carry out its work successfully today, needs people with the same virtues and the same self-sacrifice as the Apostles. But this is only one dimension of the work of our Church towards salvation. The second dimension that should characterize the life of our Church is its character of the global universality of its Gospel message, as we observe today through our Missionary ministry developing across the Universe.

    The second dimension of the salvation ministry of our Church is its continuous effort to convey the Gospel message of repentance and salvation to all people, to all ethnicities, to black and white people, to young and old, to all races on earth, and to help and protect orphans and widows, the persecuted and those oppressed, the poor, the sick, refugees and migrants and the elderly, the disabled and all those innocent children suffering from autism and the spectrum of other conditions that they bear no responsibility over.

    Our lives are common, and we can make our lives beautiful if we leave space in our hearts for the Great figure of Jesus Christ to reign, with our unconditional love and charity and kindness in every direction. Only if we let Christ guide us in our lives do we have hope to live in a better world that will lead us to the eternal Paradise.

    Therefore, at the beginning of the public sermons and preaching of Jesus Christ and at the call of his first Disciples and Apostles, repentance and the Kingdom of Heaven are emphasized, with a living example in our daily life, the ministry of the holy Apostles.

    That is why in today’s apostolic reading (Romans 2, 10-16), the Apostle Paul teaches “glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works toward what is good.” Those who do not live in repentance (metanoia), as did happen with Zacchaeus who showed his repentance by changing his life, by restoring social justice for his injustices, sharing his possessions with those whom he wronged (Luke 19, 1-10).

    The Apostle Paul tells us in today’s Apostolic passage that all people will be judged worthy of the Kingdom of heaven according to three criteria: The Jews, whether they obey the Law of Moses;  the Christians, if they obey the commandments of Jesus Christ, meaning if we protect the sick and the wronged and the whole Creation of God, especially our Planet, from ecological catastrophes and disasters; and all other humans, according to their conscience, in the sense that they can judge good from evil and unjust from just.

    Ultimately, ecological repentance from our ecological sins, leads to a new way of life, to live without polluting our planet and without doing wrong to our fellow human beings with our social injustices. This is the only way to protect humanity and the survival of the Planet, as a gift from God for all generations, even those who have not yet been born, because if we continue to live the way we currently do, they will inherit a living hell on Earth.


Why invertebrates should be included in animal welfare protections

NEW SCIENTIST Magazine issue 3345 , published 31 July 2021

FRANKLIN the cuttlefish considered the juicy prawn meat morsel in front of her. As mouth-watering as it looked, she resisted temptation and waited for her favourite meal to become available – live shrimp. Her self-control is impressive and comparable to what we see in chimpanzees and crows.

Self-control is a vital cognitive skill that underpins decision-making and future planning. In humans, these abilities are linked to sentience because they are thought to involve conscious experience. Imagining future choices is accompanied by an awareness of the projection of self in time – what will my future self want, and how different will it be from what I want now? Some animals possess similar cognitive abilities, but cannot report their experiences, and so whether they are sentient is an ongoing debate.

This topic has recently taken the spotlight in the UK with a new bill currently making its way through parliament that will recognise certain animals as sentient, including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. This will give them greater protections in law, particularly in the context of reducing pain and suffering.

This is a good step forward. However, as it stands, invertebrates like Franklin aren’t being included.

Invertebrates show plenty of behavioural signs of sentience. But because their neurological architecture greatly differs from that of vertebrates, it is often wrongly assumed that they don’t possess the appropriate hardware to experience emotions.

Despite the differences, there are many brain structures across both groups that perform similar functions. Invertebrates such as cephalopods (octopus, cuttlefish, squid) and decapods (crayfish, crabs, lobsters, prawns) possess brain receptors and structures that can process negative emotions, such as the vertical lobe in cephalopods – responsible for learning and memory. They also possess nerve cords that transfer information about the location of an injury from the peripheral nerves to the central brain.

Consequently, groups including Crustacean Compassion, the RSPCA and the Conservative Animal Welfare Group (CAWG) are urging for the inclusion of cephalopods and decapods in the UK’s Animal Sentience Bill. They also argue that the intelligence observed in cephalopods, particularly octopuses, should grant them protection.

It is important to remember animal protections aren’t just about intelligence, as sentience doesn’t necessarily require it – an animal doesn’t need to be able to plan for the future to be capable of suffering. For example, there is no evidence that crabs plan for the future, but, when injured, they attend to their wounds in a self-protective manner, such as hiding declawed arms behind healthy claws to protect their wound. They also appear to shudder when wounds are touched.

Cephalopods also behave in a way that is indicative of being able to experience emotions. For example, cuttlefish learn to avoid the claws of their crab prey after being pinched and instead attack them from behind. Octopuses with injured arms curl their adjacent arms around the wound and after being injured they avoid chambers where an injury was inflicted, preferring to seek refuge in chambers that provide access to a local anaesthetic for pain relief.

Countries such as Norway, Sweden and Austria have already afforded invertebrates legislative protection, and this has resulted in much improved animal welfare standards, such as in the storage and slaughter of decapods within the food industry.

Others now need to catch up. While there are neurological differences, invertebrates are likely to experience pain and show signs of sentience. Animal protection laws should reflect that

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg25133452-200-why-invertebrates-should-be-included-in-animal-welfare-protections/#ixzz72OwyP8GE

Animal Experimentation – Open letter.

Many believe the case for testing pharmaceutical drugs on animals is proven – this is not the case – far from it – there is a 92-96% failure rate. Those of you who have read my book know that Chapter Nine has a large portion devoted to unveiling the truth on this appalling situation.

The Animal Interfaith Alliance (14 faith groups including our own) has taken the following step to widen understanding on this important issue that not only produces unfathomable suffering to millions of innocent animals but also harms the human population in multiple ways.

AIA writes Open Letter to AstraZeneca and Glaxosmithkline urging the use of Non Animal Testing Methods

Animal Interfaith Alliance

On 2 July 2021 the Animal Interfaith Alliance wrote an open letter to the Chief Executive of AstraZeneca urging the use of non animal testing methods instead of relying on outdated animal models. They sent the same letter to the Chief Executive of Glaxosmithkline. The letter is reproduced here:

OPEN LETTER

Dear Pascal Soriot, 

We, the Animal Interfaith Alliance, a group of 17 faith-based animal advocacy organisations (listed below), write to you in your capacity as CEO of AstraZeneca to ask you to engage in a genuine dialogue concerning some of the corporate practices of your company.

We appeal first and foremost to your corporate social responsibility, generally defined as the self-regulation of a business model that helps a company be socially and morally accountable to itself, its stakeholders and the public.  

The specific issue we wish to raise is the use of animals used to develop and test new pharmaceutical products intended for human use. We fully realise that the use of animals is currently a legal requirement, based on national and international regulations. These regulatory requirements can be traced back to the Doctors’ Trial at Nuremberg at the end of the Second World War, 1946 (1).

Science has moved forward since then by 75 years, but the laws have not yet caught up with the science. The result of this legal inertia is a continued reliance on outdated and unreliable animal testing, which can be summed up in the following paragraph:

“In 2004, the FDA estimated that 92 percent of drugs that pass preclinical tests, including “pivotal” animal tests, fail to proceed to the market. More recent analysis suggests that, despite efforts to improve the predictability of animal testing, the failure rate has actually increased and is now closer to 96 percent. The main causes of failure are lack of effectiveness and safety problems that were not predicted by animal tests” (2).

Not only is the continued use of animals responsible for an enormous amount of avoidable animal suffering but it is also responsible for a significant incidence of human adverse drug reactions (3). This is not surprising in view of our current knowledge of inter and even intra-species differences, based on genomics, complexity theory and evolutionary biology (4).

The following paragraph makes the connection between animal testing and shareholder expectations:

“Pharmaceutical firms seek to fulfil their responsibilities to stakeholders by developing drugs that treat diseases. We evaluate the social and financial costs of developing new drugs relative to the realized benefits and find the industry falls short of its potential. This is primarily due to legislation-mandated reliance on animal test results in early stages of the drug development process, leading to a mere 10 percent success rate for new drugs entering human clinical trials. We cite hundreds of biomedical studies from journals including Nature, Science, and the Journal of the American Medical Association to show animal modelling is ineffective, misleading to scientists, unable to prevent the development of dangerous drugs, and prone to prevent the development of useful drugs.” (5).

The pharmaceutical industry is best placed to make the paradigm change needed to replace outdated and unreliable animal tests with human relevant test methods, including human 3D cell culture, organs on chips, pharmacogenomics, and similar 21st century technologies that were previously unavailable.

Only the pharmaceutical industry has the resources to scientifically validate human based test methods and steer them through the regulatory framework.

The development, manufacture and mass marketing of the COVID-19 vaccine was achieved in just 10 months instead of the normal 10 to 15 years. The pharmaceutical industry has already had 75 years in which to replace animal tests. Now is the time to invest some of the profits made from the COVID-19 vaccine and to improve Big Pharma reputations by using the non-animal tests that are currently available, whilst establishing a group of committed scientists dedicated to the creation of new non-animal methodologies. We are sure you will agree that this would represent a win-win situation for your company, for human health and for animal welfare.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Gardner

CE Animal Interfaith Alliance


References:

  1. https://bmcmedethics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6939-13-16
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594046/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9555760/ 
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29783296/
  5. https://philpapers.org/rec/KRAHSA-3

Animal Interfaith Alliance – Member Organisations:

Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals

Bhagvatinandji Education and Health Trust

Catholic Concern for Animals

Christian Vegetarians and Vegans UK

Christian Vegetarian Association US

Dharma Voices for Animals UK

Institute of Jainology

International Ahimsa Organisation

Animals in Islam

Jewish Vegetarian Society UK

Mahavir Trust

Oshwal Association of the UK

Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals

Quaker Concern for Animals

Romeera Foundation

Sadhu Vaswani Centre

Young Jains

Ecological Metanoia from our ecological sins, by His Eminence Metropolitan of Zimbabwe Serafim Kykotis

This is an important statement on ecological metanoia by His Eminence Met. Serafim. The English text is coming soon:

Οικολογική μετάνοια από τις οικολογικές μας αμαρτίες

 

Του Σεβ. Μητροπ.  Ζιμπάμπουε Σεραφείμ

Στη σημερινή Ευαγγελική Περικοπή (Ματθαίου 4, 18 – 23) βλέπουμε πως τέσσερις από τους σημαντικότερους Μαθητές του Χριστού, στην κλήση τους να τον ακολουθήσουν, εγκαταλείπουν τα πάντα χωρίς δισταγμό κι αμφιβολία. Θυσιάζουν τα πάντα για να γίνουν Μαθητές του Χριστού.

Μέσα στη παγκόσμια κρίση που ζούμε με Πανδημίες και οικολογικές καταστροφές του Πλανήτη μας, ίσως πρέπει να προσθέσουμε στην σημερινή ευαγγελική περικοπή και το χωρίο Ματθαίου 4,17 που πολύ σοφά ο Απόστολος Ματθαίος το έχει ως εισαγωγή στην σημερινή ευαγγελική περικοπή, που φαίνεται πριν πολλά χρόνια, αυτοί που καθιέρωσαν το Τυπικό των περικοπών το απέκοψαν. Το χωρίο αυτό είναι πολύ σημαντικό για πολλούς λόγους, πρώτον, τονίζεται ότι αρχίζει η έναρξη του δημόσιου κηρύγματος του  ο Ιησούς και δεύτερο, το πρώτο πράγμα που τονίζεται είναι η «Μετάνοια» και η Βασιλεία των Ουρανών από τότε ήρξατο ο Ιησούς κηρύσσειν και λέγειν, μετανοείτε ήγγικε γαρ η Βασιλεία των ουρανών»). Το κήρυγμα της Μετανοίας, ως νέος τρόπος ζωής και νέος τρόπος σκέψεως, είναι και  το πρώτο πράγμα που τόνιζε κι  ο άγιος Ιωάννης ο Πρόδρομος, που με τη Πρόνοια του Θεού προετοίμασε την οδό του Ιησού Χριστού. Το κήρυγμα της Μετανοίας το τονίζει κι ο Απόστολος Πέτρος την Ημέρα της Πεντηκοστής, που θεωρείται η Γενέθλιος Ημέρα της Εκκλησίας («μετανοήσατε» Πράξεις 2,38). Η ζωή της πρώτης χριστιανικής κοινότητας που άρχισε να ζει εν μετανοία αποτελεί το ζωντανό παράδειγμα και για την σύγχρονη κοινωνία για να προστατευθούν τα θύματα των προβλημάτων της κλιματικής αλλαγής από τις οικολογικές μας αμαρτίες («κανείς δεν έλεγε ότι κάτι από τα υπάρχοντα του είναι δικό του, αλλά ήσαν εις αυτούς κοινά…. και δεν υπήρχε κανένας φτωχός μεταξύ τους» Πράξεις Αποστόλων 4,32 – 34). Το κήρυγμα της Μετανοίας  τονίζεται ξανά την ημέρα της Αναλήψεως του Ιησού εις τους ουρανούς («κηρυχθήναι επί τω ονόματι Αυτού μετάνοιαν» Λουκά 24,47). Η επιστημονική Κοινότητα του Ο.Η.Ε. για τα προβλήματα της Κλιματικής Αλλαγής τονίζει τον ανθρώπινο παράγοντα ως τον κύριο υπεύθυνο για την μόλυνση της ατμόσφαιρας και τις οικολογικές καταστροφές που απειλούν την επιβίωση της Ανθρωπότητας και τη καταστροφή του Πλανήτη μας. Ο μόνος τρόπος να αλλάξουν τα πράγματα για να προστατευθεί η Ανθρωπότητα και η ελπίδα για το μέλλον του Πλανήτη μας είναι να μετανοήσουμε από τις οικολογικές μας αμαρτίες και να αρχίσουμε να ζούμε ένα νέο τρόπο ζωής με ένα νέο τρόπο σκέψεως, όπως τους Αποστόλους του Ιησού Χριστού. Να προστατεύουμε τους συνανθρώπους μας και την όλη Δημιουργία του Θεού ως δώρο για όλες τις γενεές. Ο άγιος Ιωάννης ο Πρόδρομος μας καλεί «να ποιήσουμε καρπό άξιο της μετανοίας», (Ματθαίου 3,8) ,με την καλοδιάθετη απόφαση μας να μοιραζόμαστε αυτά που έχουμε με αυτούς που δεν έχουν τίποτα («εκείνος που έχει δύο χιτώνες να δώσει εις εκείνο που δεν έχει και εκείνος που έχει τρόφιμα να κάνει το ίδιο» (Λουκά 2,11).

Στο βιβλίο της Γένεσης που περιγράφεται η Δημιουργία του κόσμου και ο κατακλυσμός του Νώε, τονίζεται με σαφήνεια ότι τα αίτια της καταστροφής του Πλανήτη μας προέρχονται από τη διαφθορά των ανθρώπων, δηλαδή από τις κάθε είδους αδικίες που διαπράττουμε προς τους συνανθρώπους μας (Γένεση 6,10-13).

Η Εκκλησία μας για να συνεχίσει σήμερα το έργον της με επιτυχία χρειάζεται ανθρώπους με τις ίδιες αρετές και με την ίδια αυτοθυσία όπως τους Αποστόλους μας. Αυτό όμως είναι μόνο η μία διάσταση της επιτυχίας της Εκκλησίας μας στο σωτηριολογικό της έργον. Η δεύτερη πραγματικότητα που πρέπει να χαρακτηρίζει τη ζωή της Εκκλησίας μας είναι η διάσταση της οικουμενικότητας και παγκοσμιότητας του χαρακτήρα του Ευαγγελικού της  έργου, όπως σήμερα βλέπουμε να αναπτύσσεται η Ιεραποστολική μας διακονία εις τα πέρατα της Οικουμένης.

Η δεύτερη λοιπόν διάσταση του σωτηριολογικού έργου της Εκκλησίας μας είναι η συνεχής προσπάθεια της να μεταφέρει το Ευαγγελικό μήνυμα της Μετανοίας και σωτηρίας προς όλους τους ανθρώπους, προς όλες τις Εθνότητες, σε μαύρους και λευκούς, σε μικρούς και μεγάλους, σε όλες τις φυλές της γης και να βοηθούμε και να προστατεύουμε τα ορφανά και τις χήρες, τους καταδιωγμένους και τους αδικημένους, τους φτωχούς, τους ασθενείς, τους πρόσφυγες και τους μετανάστες, τους ασθενείς και τους ηλικιωμένους,  τους ανάπηρους  κι όλα εκείνα τα αθώα παιδάκια που πάσχουν από το φάσμα του αυτισμού ή άλλα συμπτώματα που δεν φέρουν καμία ευθύνη.

Ο βίος μας είναι κοινός και μπορούμε να κάνουμε τη ζωή μας όμορφη αν αφήσουμε χώρο στην καρδιά μας να βασιλέψει η Μεγάλη μορφή του Χριστού  με την άδολη αγάπη μας και τη φιλανθρωπία μας και τη καλοσύνη μας προς κάθε κατεύθυνση. Μόνον αν αφήσουμε στη ζωή μας να μας καθοδηγεί ο Χριστός έχουμε ελπίδες για να ζήσουμε σε ένα καλύτερο κόσμο που θα μας οδηγήσει και στην αιωνιότητα του Παραδείσου.

Στην έναρξη λοιπόν του δημόσιου κηρύγματος του Ιησού και στη κλήση των πρώτων του Μαθητών και Αποστόλων, τονίζεται η Μετάνοια και η Βασιλεία των Ουρανών, με ζωντανό παράδειγμα και της δικής μας καθημερινής ζωής, τη διακονία των αγίων Αποστόλων.

Γι’ αυτό στη σημερινή αποστολική περικοπή (Ρωμαίους 2, 10 – 16) , ο Απόστολος Παύλος τονίζει ότι «είναι δόξα και τιμή για τον κάθε άνθρωπο που κάνει το καλό» . Όσοι δεν ζουν εν μετανοία, όπως συνέβη με το Ζακχαίο που έδειξε την μετάνοια του με την αλλαγή της ζωής του,  με   την αποκατάσταση της κοινωνικής δικαιοσύνης για τις κοινωνικές του αδικίες, μοιράζοντας τα υπάρχοντα του με αυτούς που αδίκησε  Λουκά 19, 1- 10).

Ο Απόστολος Παύλος μας λέει στην σημερινή Αποστολική περικοπή, ότι όλοι οι άνθρωποι του Πλανήτη μας , θα  κριθούν αν είναι άξιοι για τη  Βασιλεία των ουρανών με τρία κριτήρια .  Οι Εβραίοι αν είναι υπάκουοι στον Μωσαϊκό Νόμο, οι Χριστιανοί, στις εντολές του Χριστού, αν προστατεύουμε τους πάσχοντες και τους αδικημένους και την όλη Δημιουργία του Θεού, ιδιαίτερα το Πλανήτη μας,    από οικολογικές καταστροφές, κι   όλοι οι άλλοι με κριτήριο τη συνείδηση τους, με την έννοια ότι μπορούν να κρίνουν το καλό   από το κακό και το άδικο από το δίκαιο.

Τελικά, η οικολογική μας μετάνοια από τις οικολογικές μας αμαρτίες, ως ένας νέος τρόπος ζωής, να ζούμε χωρίς να μολύνουμε το Πλανήτη μας και να αδικούμε τον συνάνθρωπο μας με τις κοινωνικές μας   αδικίες , είναι μονόδρομος για τη προστασία της Ανθρωπότητας  και την επιβίωση του Πλανήτη μας , ως δώρο Θεού για όλες τις γενεές, και μάλιστα γι’ αυτές που ακόμη δεν έχουν γεννηθεί, που αν συνεχίζουμε να ζούμε με τον τρόπο που ζούμε, πάμε να τους κληρονομήσουμε μια ζωντανή κόλαση και στη Γη.   

Interesting article about bio-fabrics as alternatives to leather.

It’s this season’s must-have Hermès bag. And it’s made from fungus

The luxury label is the latest to adopt pioneering technology as designers shift to bio-fabrics. Is this the end of leather?

The autumn/winter 2021 Hermès Victoria bag in leather lookalike Sylvania.
The autumn/winter 2021 Hermès Victoria bag in leather lookalike Sylvania. Photograph: Hermès

Alice Fisher Sat 12 Jun 2021 15.00 BST

It’s fair to say that Hermès knows handbags. The luxury fashion house’s Birkin and Kelly bags are among the most expensive ever sold; demand outstrips supply by so much that you can’t even join a waiting list. Acquiring one is a matter of luck and contacts. So when Hermès announced this season’s handbag would be made from a leather look bio-textile, it marked a new era in designer accessories.

The autumn/winter 2021 Hermès Victoria (prices start from about £3,500 for its previous leather version) will be made from Sylvania, a leathery fabric created from fungus, before being crafted in France into a perfect Hermès handbag.

Mushrooms, pineapples, grapes, cactus and apples are just some of the organisms on the receiving end of billions of dollars of research and development funding to create leather and plastic replacements. Many of the first generation of vegan alternatives used plastic – which also has devastating environmental consequences and can take hundreds of years to decompose. The new materials are made using biotechnology.

The growth of bio-textile lookalikes for leather is driven by the fashion industry’s efforts to improve sustainability, though they’re also used in the car and furniture industries. Fashion creates a high level of pollution – from overproduction of clothing and synthetic fibres, and also from animal leather production.

“Cattle ranching is already the largest driver of deforestation in the Amazon,” says Carry Somers, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, the world’s largest fashion activism organisation. “We urgently need to fix our relationship with fashion to halt unsustainable agricultural practices. We need to look towards circular economy alternatives, including the use of agricultural residues to create bio-leathers.”

Although conventional leather makes use of animal byproducts, production also involves toxic chemicals.

“Even in fully modernised tanneries it’s nearly impossible to reclaim pollutants generated by the tanning process,” says Adrián López Velarde, co-founder of Desserto, a Mexican company that makes leather-look material from cactus. “As a rule of thumb, tanning one tonne of hide results in 20-80 cubic metres of polluted waste water, not to mention the offal effluence from preparation, and pesticides to stop mould growth during transportation.”

There’s also been an attitude shift among consumers. Customer concern about supply chains and methods of production was growing before the pandemic, but has accelerated in the past 18 months.

“There’s a huge drive for transparency,” says Carmen Hijosa, founder of Ananas Anam, a company that makes a leather-style textile from pineapple. “It’s especially important to young people, but we’re all becoming more empathic, we understand that we have to respect nature and be kind to each other.”

Trainers made from Nike’s new Happy Pineapple range made from Pinatex pineapple leather
Trainers made from Nike’s new Happy Pineapple range made from Pinatex pineapple leather Photograph: nike

This change in priorities is the motivation for many of the companies developing so-called bio-leathers. The people behind these new materials come from diverse backgrounds – fashion and art, science and business – and they bring fresh perspective to the world of textiles.

Dan Widmaier, chief executive of the bio-textile company Bolt Threads, says: “This is personal for me. Bolt is based in northern California. I, and our employees, have been massively impacted by climate change and fires. The truth is, the challenges are so great right now, that the demand for innovative solutions far outstrips the supply.”

Bio-textiles are made either from agricultural byproducts or specially grown crops. Mycelium, the root structure of fungus, has become a favourite in the luxury industry.

Hermès worked with the Californian company MycoWorks to make Sylvania, which uses a technology called Fine Mycelium. This produces a strong cellular material that can be processed to give a luxury leather effect. “It’s more than a new material – it’s a manufacturing breakthrough that gives designers new levels of customisation and creative control,” says MycoWorks co-founder Sophia Wang. “Our materials are essentially made to order and there’s complete transparency into what is being made and how. We control each sheet’s size, strength, flexibility, thickness. This customisation creates a range of design possibilities, minimises waste and ensures consistent quality.”

Because these companies have been formed with sustainability in their DNA, good agricultural practice is front and centre. Desserto says its organic cactus plantations in Zacatecas, Mexico, use 164,650% less water compared with animal leather and 190% compared with polyurethane.

An outfit by Stella McCartney made from Mylo. Model wears basque-style top and faux leather trousers
An outfit by Stella McCartney made from Mylo. Photograph: Stella McCartney/Bolt Threads

Bolt Threads developed and produces Mylo, a mycelium faux leather used by designers including Stella McCartney. Widmaier is proud of his product and says: “Mylo’s processing and finishing chemistries are evaluated and selected using green chemistry principles and are free of substances such as chromium and DMFa, two of the most noxious chemicals used in animal and synthetic leather respectively.”

For advocates of the circular economy, bio-textiles using byproducts are of particular interest. Piñatex, made by UK-based Ananas Anam from pineapple leaves, is one of the best established. Hijosa, the company’s founder, had been a consultant for the leather goods business before setting up her company in the 1990s. She dreamt up the idea of a leather lookalike made from pineapple leaf fibres – byproducts from local farms – while working in the Philippines.

Piñatex is said to be made of 95% renewable resources – the fibres are coated in a bio-based polyurethane, rather than a petrochemical-based coating – while selling the leaves gives Filipino farmers another revenue stream.

“I just thought – you’ve got extraordinary natural resources here, great skills. Wouldn’t this be a better business than making animal leather bags with fittings imported from Hong Kong?” Hijosa says.

While mycelium-based bio-textiles are typically created to precise requirements, materials such as Piñatex can be produced on a bigger scale, allowing them to be used for mainstream as well as high-end designs.

Mira Nameth is founder of a London-based bio-textile start-up called Biophilica, which makes Treekind, a faux leather created from green waste gathered from London parks including Hyde Park and the garden at Fulham Palace. “Treekind can be made to scale,” says Nameth. “The beauty is that it’s ‘species agnostic’, so we can source the basic material from gardens, parks, forests, municipalities and the agriculture industry – they all work well, which makes it work locally [but also] on a global scale. Shipping adds significant greenhouse gas emissions to the footprint of materials and products. We can support localised supply chains and greatly reduce negative environmental impacts.”

The boom in bio replacements for leather feels like a perfect match between industry and consumer demand on one hand, and technical innovation and creativity on the other. As Nameth says: “We are in a new era of combining plants with science and design – just like scientists and designers previously have for plastics and leather. It is a thrilling journey and the results will benefit humans, animals and the environment as a whole.” It’s a journey that has to be taken. Though Hermès is unlikely to swap cows for mushrooms altogether in the near future – even the Victoria bag has a calfskin handle – the environmental impact of our current level of consumption is going to force us to change.

“The market for tanned hide last year was $45bn,” says Widmaier. “We envisage a future where consumers and brands can opt for an animal-free material like Mylo without having to compromise ethically or aesthetically. But as disposable incomes rise around the globe, so will the demand for meat and leather goods. This demand cannot be met using the land and water it takes to raise cattle. We need smarter, more sustainable alternatives.”

Drying of pineapple fibres in the Philippines to make Pinatex.
Drying of pineapple fibres in the Philippines to make Piñatex. Photograph: PIñatex

‘Bio-leathers’

V-Textile
Byproducts of the Italian wine industry are used to create this material by Milanese company Vegea, which was founded by architect Gianpiero Tessitore in 2016. Last year Vegea collaborated with French sportswear brand Le Coq Sportif to make trainers. Each was marked with the vintage of the grape used to produce the material.

Fleather
Engineer Ankit Agarwal discovered that the majority of the 8.4m tonnes of waste from flower offerings used in religious festivals in his home city of Kanpur were being dumped into the Ganges. He developed “flowercycling technology” in 2017 to recycle as much as he could. He now uses the plant matter to make numerous products – including fleather.

Desserto
Nopal cactus is the basis for this material made by Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez in Mexico. The two founders of parent company Adriano Di Marti worked in the fashion, furniture and car industries before launching Desserto in 2019 in response to the problem of plastic pollution. They chose the cactus because it needs little water and grows in land that can’t sustain other crops.

Mylo
Kering – the parent company of fashion brands Gucci, Stella McCartney, Adidas and Lululemon – announced investment in this mycelium textile, produced by California-based Bolt Threads, last year. Bolt Threads was founded in 2009 by a biochemist, a biophysicist and a bioengineer.

Piñatex
One of the best established leather look bio-materials, Piñatex was created by Carmen Hijosa. She learned to weave and took a PhD at the Royal College of Art in order to develop this pineapple material, which has been used by Nike, H&M, Paul Smith and Hugo Boss.

AppleSkin
Hannes Parth founded Frumat in 2008. The company is based in the south Tyrol, the largest apple growing region in Europe, and Parth turned to the local crop to make his product. AppleSkin was first used in stationery but has now been developed as a leathery material. It has been used to make trainers by Tommy Hilfiger and handbags for Luxtra.

Drug firms giving MPs ‘hidden’ funding, research shows

This article is from the Guardian’s Denis Campbell Health policy editor Fri 25 Jun 2021 12.10 BST.

In my capacity as Editor and someone who has researched and written on the dangers for humans (and the extreme cruelty and death of millions of animals each year), of using the existing animal testing model, (which has a failure rate of between 90 – 97%), this research shows that big pharma has influence at Westminster. This ought to worry each one of us.

Pharmaceutical industry has “hidden web of policy influence” over dozens of all-party parliamentary groups

The findings raise questions about the independence of APPGs.
The findings raise questions about the independence of APPGs. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Drug companies are giving groups of MPs and peers that campaign on health issues hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in “hidden” funding that could hand them “undue influence”, research has found.

The pharmaceutical industry has built up a “hidden web of policy influence” over dozens of all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) at Westminster by making hundreds of “non-transparent” payments to them, as part of the industry’s wider effort to lobby those in power, researchers claim.

The findings raise questions about the independence of APPGs, the voluntary special interest cross-party groups of members of both houses of parliament that seek to influence ministers and government departments through reports, inquiries and meetings at Westminster.Advertisement

Fifty-eight APPGs focusing on different aspects of health received 468 payments totalling just under £2.2m in direct and indirect funding from pharmaceutical firms between 2012 and 2018, academics from the University of Bath found. APPGs receive no money from parliament to support their activities, which often involve ministers being questioned and being sent reports.

“In the context of health-related APPGs, payments from the pharmaceutical industry represent institutional conflicts of interest as they create circumstances where the primary interest, policymaking in the interests of public health, is at risk of being unduly influenced by he secondary interest, the pharmaceutical industry’s goal of maximising profits”, the authors conclude, in a paper published on Thursday evening in the medical journal PLOS One.

Drug companies can use their close relationship with APPGs to contribute to their inquiries, argue for policies that favour their commercial interests and have that reflected in reports, all without the public knowing about those links, according to Emily Rickard and Dr Piotr Ozieranski, from Bath University’s department of social and policy sciences.

They uncovered the long history of funding by examining parliament’s register of APPGs and drug company payment disclosure reports. Both sources contain information about big pharma’s funding of APPGs, and also its financing of health charities, which often act as the secretariat for APPGs. But the details given were often vague, incomplete and hard to understand, the authors said.

Their research found:

  • 16 health-related APPGs received 168 payments from 35 drug firms worth £1.2m in 2012-18 – one-sixth of their total funding
  • Two APPGs, on health and cancer, accepted more than £600,000 in that time
  • 50 health-focused APPGs received almost another £1m in 304 payments from patient organisations or health charities, which themselves take sums of money from big pharma

“We are not attacking any APPG or alleging any impropriety. However, there is a dilemma. The APPGs are a key part of policymaking and it is clear that corporate money is entering the APPG bloodstream”, Rickard and Ozieranski told the Guardian.

“Something must be done to mitigate against potential influence which normal citizens or NGOs won’t be able to exert.”

The revelations led to calls for greater openness about where APPG funding comes from.

“APPGs have an important role to play in holding the government to account and shaping policy by bringing together voices from across the political spectrum and from a range of stakeholders”, said Dr John Chisholm, the chair of the British Medical Association’s medical ethics committee.

“However, it is vitally important that there is full transparency around who is behind these groups and what is driving their calls for change. This is especially important for the development of health policy, which must be underpinned by the principle of improving the health of the population, and not risk being swayed by other conflicting interests.”

Justin Madders, a shadow health minister, said: “It is hugely concerning if big pharma and other vested interests are using the cover of these groups, which were set up with the best of intentions, to circumvent the normal rules on probity and transparency.

“There is a need for clearer rules on funding and conflicts of interest to ensure important health issues are not used as a vehicle to push private interests.”

But Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, a Labour peer and the treasurer of the all-party parliamentary health group, countered that APPGs’ lack of funding from parliament left them reliant on external organisations.

“APPGs need a lot of support to be run effectively. There is no funding available so its inevitable that outside organisations are asked to fund”, he said.

“In these circumstances it is an imperative on the parliamentarians who serve as honorary officers to make sure that financial sponsors do not improperly influence the outcome of APPG work.

“That is certainly the case with the APPG on health, where the sponsors come nowhere near our decisions on programmes.”

Elliot Dunster of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said: “APPGs facilitate discussions between MPs, peers and stakeholders in an open and transparent way. A number of these groups are supported by charities, trade associations and companies to carry out research, reports and meetings.

“There is strict parliamentary guidance on APPGs and a complete register – there is no hidden funding from pharmaceutical companies for MPs.”

 This article was amended on 26 June 2021 to add a statement from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry that was provided after publication.

Daily Reading Programme on the Care for Creation

A Daily Reading Program on the Christian Theology of Creation
The Unified Vision and Spiritual Direction of the Orthodox Patriarchs as they
call us into care for God’s Creation
A Program of Theological Reflections on Christian Responsibility for
the Care and Keeping of God’s Creation

The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration

June 1-30, 2021

Introduction
Christ is risen! Greetings in of Lord Jesus Christ! Throughout 2020 the Orthodox
Fellowship of the Transfiguration every month published a set of readings from the
patriarchs and top hierarchs of the Orthodox Church across all jurisdictions that
featured their statements on the proper care of God’s creation.
Now, after several requests that the OFT resume this service, yes, we will
restart this service with a new set of readings from the Patriarchs and Hierarchs of
the Church. These statements are united in that they all call for the care of creation
so that Orthodox parishes may engage the pressing issues of our time. Besides, care
for the creation is more than concern for the environment. This is because care of
the earth serves as a “doorway” to an Orthodox way of life. It provides a gateway to
a genuine Orthodox lifestyle that at once is in harmony with the commandments,
with theology and creation as a visible icon of the divine economia.
As a further consideration, in past centuries humans could not alter the face
of the planet or unleash massive destruction upon the earth. It was not necessary in
those times to emphasize the biblical mandates to respect the earth. In our day with
new and expanding capabilities our top hierarchs are reacquainting us with our
ancient God inspired responsibility to connect our vision of Christ and the Holy
Spirit in all things to respect for creation as worthy of reverence and all care.
As our patriarchs and bishops restore awareness of our duty to respect creation,
we should give special thanks as they restore a vision of holy regard for all things. In
this way, they are laying out an inspired pathway to help us overcome the
secularism and individualism that are diametrically opposed to Orthodox
Christianity.
Thus it is not insignificant that the Orthodox patriarchs across jurisdictions
have become virtually unanimous in a common unified calling for our Church to
awaken to its biblical responsibility and theological vision to assume and restore
responsibility for the planet and the way we relate to the earth.
As you read these statements from our top bishops, an unusual opportunity
emerges. You can let the inspiration upon our holy patriarchs become your teachers
in the faith and instructors in how Orthodox Christians can reshape our lives
despite the deepening secularism which surrounds us.
Yours in service to God’s good earth,
MR – ERC – FK The reading-a-day editorial team

1 Tuesday June 1, 2021 Reuniting the Universe Under Jesus Christ
Cosmology is a form of knowledge which is given to us in Christ by the Holy
Spirit. “The mystery of the Incarnation of the Word,” wrote St. Maximos the
Confessor, “contains within itself the whole meaning of the created world. He
who understands the mystery of the Cross and the Tomb knows the meaning
of all things, and he who is initiated into the hidden meaning of the
Resurrection understands the purpose for which God created everything from
the very beginning.” If this is so, it means that everything has been created by and for the
Word, as the Apostle says in Colossians 1:16-17, and that the meaning of this
creation is revealed to us in the re-creation effected by the same Word taking
flesh, by the Son of God becoming the son of the earth….
In this perspective the Fathers maintain that the historical Bible gives us
the key to the cosmic Bible. In this they are faithful to the Hebrew notion of
the Word, which not only speaks, but creates: God is “true” in the sense that
his word is the source of all reality, not only historical, but also cosmic
reality…. That is why, as St. Maximos says, we discover, or rather the Gospel
discovers for us, that on the one hand, the Word “hides himself mysteriously
in created things like so many letters,” and on the other hand, “he… expresses
himself in the letters, symbols and sounds of Scripture.”
HB Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch, Zurich, Switzerland,
March 10, 1989
Q
What does the term ‘cosmology’ mean?
How much can you explain what is called ‘the Incarnation of the Word’?
How does this relate to the created world?
Reflection


2 Wednesday June 2, 2021
A Call to Protect God’s Creation

The Orthodox Church appreciates these efforts to overcome the ecological
crisis and calls people to intensive co-operation in actions aimed to protect
God’s creation. At the same time, she notes that these efforts will be more
fruitful if the basis on which man’s relations with nature are built will be
not purely humanistic, but also Christian.
One of the main principles of the Church’s stand on ecological issues
is the unity and integrity of the world created by God. Orthodoxy does not
view nature as an isolated and self-enclosed structure. The plant, animal and
human worlds are interconnected.
In the Christian view, nature is not a repository of resources intended
for egotistical and irresponsible consumption. Rather, it is a house in which
man is not the master, but a housekeeper. It is a temple in which he is the
priest serving not nature, but the one Creator. The conception of nature as a
temple is based on the principle of theocentrism: God Who gives to all “life,
and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25) is the Source of being. Therefore,
life itself in its various manifestations is sacred, being a gift of God. Any
encroachment on it is a challenge not only to God’s creation, but also to the
Lord Himself.
HB Patriarch Kyrill, Archbishop of Moscow and Patriarch of All-Russia,
Statement of the Russian Orthodox Church on Ecological programs, #4, June 1, 2012. Q
What are the Orthodox Christian foundations for action to heal God’s earth?
How might a person help protect the earth? List the different ways.
What is the practical meaning of each person as a priest of creation?
Reflection


3 Thursday June 3, 2021
An Awakening to our Problems is Essential

Unless everyone is made sensitive to the harmful character of [polluting]
actions, it is almost impossible for any endeavor for the improvement of the
[environmental] situation to succeed.
Religion can inspire the behavior of every individual or even mass
movements; and it is able to transmit and spread the necessity and benefit of
these behaviors.
This sense of a common fate, which is the polar opposite of the
widespread individualistic and self-interested perception which is short-sighted
in its appreciation of the world, is a basic teaching of the Christian faith, and
especially of Orthodoxy.
Let us seek … to energize the feelings of inertia about responsibility for
the common good which we find in individuals and in whole peoples.
We call on every conscience to awaken! We invite you to a virtual
apostolic commission to spread the word about the necessity for a common
confrontation of these problems. The grace of God be with you all.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Trabzon, Turkey,
September 20, 1997
Q
How do people awaken to the seriousness of ecological problems?
Why should every Christian become sensitive to these issues?
What does it mean to have an apostolic commission to spread the word?
Reflection


4 Friday June 4, 2021
The Human Role in the Cosmos

Man is a mediator. He is poised between two realities – God and the world.
He shares in both, he is united to both. He cannot live apart from either.
That is the meaning of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The only humanity
that can survive is the new humanity, the humanity that has now been
inseparably, indivisibly united with God in Jesus Christ.
The new humanity is a mediating humanity – a humanity that
reconciles and unites God and the world. It is an incarnate humanity – a
humanity that is an inseparable part of the whole creation and inseparably
united to the Creator.
This is the meaning of the human presence in the cosmos. To be with
the one who unites. To be in Christ, uniting the divine and the human, the
Creator and the creation, the transcendent and the immanent, the spiritual
and the scientific-technological. To enter the mystery of “Christ in us,” yes, in
us Christians, but also in us human beings, and in us as an integral part of the
whole creation.
The subtle art of image making for the future needs skilled craftsmen
as well as the gift of the Spirit. The various crises of our time should be used
neither as occasions for doom-saying pessimism nor as a chance to peddle
empty-hope optimism. Every crisis is a judgement, a call to see where things
have gone wrong and to seek to set matters right, both within our
consciousness and in society.
The environmental crisis, the economic crisis, the crisis of justice, the
crisis of faith…, the crisis of militarism – of all of these are symptoms not only
that humanity has yet to become what it has to be, but also that it is on the
wrong track.
HE Metropolitan Mar Paulos Gregorios,
Syrian Orthodox Church of India,
New Delhi, India, 1987
Q
What does it mean that humans are mediators?
How is a mediating humanity akin to humans as priests of creation?
Why are crises messages to society?
Reflection


5 Saturday June 5, 2021
Modernity and Global Climate Change

Modernity confronts us with many dilemmas. Man must answer challenges, and
not only those for which his teachers prepared him, but also totally new and
different problems that life places before us. And it has always been so.
The technological progress and social innovations of the 20th century have
transformed the world much faster than, for instance, the entire process of
technological development during medieval times.
Respected theologians of the Serbian Orthodox Church are [now] raising
serious concerns about the environmental crisis and the urgent problems of global
warming, floods, forest fires, sea pollution from plastics, climate changes, etc. …
What is expected of contemporary Christians, as responsible members
of Christ’s Church, is neither aloof diagnosing of spiritual “illness” nor
pronouncements of the “ruination of the world,” nor panicked anathematizing
of “this world” and its modernity, but a responsible witnessing of the Truth of
God-Man Christ, and an unmasking of all falsities, misconceptions and injustices
through the love of Christ.
We have a crucial role as Orthodox Church in encouraging the world’s
response to the climate and ecological crisis through Church as Body of Christ….
Let us all recall the commands of God regarding our use of the earth…. Let us
respond to the divine commandments so that the blessings of God may be
abundantly upon us in Liturgy and prayers. And let us responsibly discern the
right, holy and proper way to live in this time of change and challenge, as a life in
Church as a Body of Christ.
HB Patriarch +Irinej, Serbian Orthodox Church,
Belgrade, September, 2020,
Q
Why is climate change happening?
What role might the Church play in addressing this issue?
What is the call of Scripture in caring for the earth?
Reflection


6 Monday June 7, 2021
Why Ecology is a Spiritual Issue

The ecological problem is, at root, a spiritual issue. Many people dealing with
it tend to overlook its spiritual aspects. And yet both historically and from
the practical point of view it is impossible to address it without reference to
religion and ethics. …
A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a
vehicle of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that
material creation is not treated as a means of obtaining pleasure and
happiness for the individual, but as a sacred gift from God which is meant to
foster and promote communion with God and with others.
Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature by human beings leads to forms of
culture which are deeply respectful of the material world while keeping the
human person at the centre.
HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Production and Consumption,”
April, 1996
Q
Why is the ecological problem a spiritual issue?
Can you explain what are the duties of a ‘priest of creation’?
How does a sense of the sacred in nature lead to a liturgical sense about nature?
Reflection


7 Tuesday June 8, 2020
Energy Conservation and Climate Justice

In light and wind, in land and water, energy resources are abundant gifts for
human well-being from our Creator God. Because we are called to “till and to
tend the garden” (Gen 2:15), we have a moral obligation to choose the safest,
cleanest and most sustainable sources of energy to protect and preserve God’s
creation. Energy conservation is faithful stewardship.
Humans have a choice of priorities for the future. By depleting energy
sources, causing global warming, fouling the air with pollution, and poisoning the
land with radioactive waste, a policy of increased reliance on fossil fuels and
nuclear power jeopardizes health and well-being for life on Earth.
On the other hand, by investing in clean technology, renewable energy,
greater vehicle fuel efficiency and safer power plants, we help assure sustainability
for God’s creation and God’s justice. Energy conservation is intergenerational
responsibility….
Energy policy must be an instrument of social and economic justice here
and abroad. The first beneficiaries of a new energy policy should be “the least
among us,” the low-income, the vulnerable, and the sick to whom we can provide
assistance with high energy bills, inexpensive mobility through expanded mass
transit, cleaner air by reducing pollution from power plants, and lower gasoline
prices through strict monitoring of oil companies for price-gouging. Energy
conservation is justice for all peoples and nations.
There is no single solution to the energy challenge. We do not have to
sacrifice economic security to assure ecological health. Prudence – the application
of moral principle in service to the common good — should guide us to meet
immediate needs in such a way as to enhance, not diminish future sustainability.
HE Archbishop Demitrios, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America;
HE Metropolitan Philip, Archdiocese of North America, Antiocian Orthodox Church;
HE Metro. Christopher, President, Episcopal Council of SCOBA, Serbian Orthodox Church;
HE Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, Patriarchal, Syrian Orthodox (Malankara) Church of Antioch;
HB Metropolitan Theodosius, primate, Orthodox Church in America (OCA);
“Moral Reflection on Energy Policy and Global Warming,” Joint declaration, February, 2002
Q
Why should Orthodox Christians be concerned about global climate change?
How does Christianity shape our attitude toward energy use?
How is there a connection between energy conservation and justice?
Reflection


8 Wednesday June 9, 2021 Creation as an Integrated Whole
Orthodoxy’s rich creation theology rests on the assumption that the entire
cosmos is an integrated whole….
Orthodoxy’s understanding of the human being as person, and as a
microcosm of the cosmos, assumes that humanity is existentially meaningful
only through the free and conscious engagement in relation with others. The
Ecumenical Patriarchate is committed to transforming the human condition.
Our vision of freedom and relationality is consistent with U.N. efforts
at transforming post-conflict situations, by restoring the torn fabric of
individual and community life.
The Orthodox Church transcends linguistic, ethnic and national
divisions. Our Holy Orthodox Church is modeled on the Trinitarian
principle of unity in diversity, whereby heterogeneity and uniqueness are
fundamental aspects of our humanity. …
We exhort you, to take up the responsibility which has been given to
us by God, our Creator, to collectively renew our commitment to restoring
the peace, justice and integrity of all creation. We ask you to consider the
creative gifts of the Orthodox Christian community as a resource for change.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, United Nations Luncheon,
New York City, NY, October 27, 1997
Q
What does it mean that the human is a microcosm of the cosmos?
How does the term “unity in diversity” reflect the Orthodox Church?
How may we play a role in restoring justice, peace and integrity within creation?
Reflection


9 Thursday June 10, 2020
Respect for the Animals

From time to time we realize that everything is from God, the animals, the
plants, the earth, the celestial planets, and we are humbled before God and
thankful for his creation….
It is traditional for us as Orthodox to have a good relationship with
the animals. Our theology is favorable to the animals. We have never
tolerated violence, but we have never said anything because I think it
was not seen as necessary. Now, however, we see more and more the ill
treatment of animals and it is true, it is time that we in the Church said
something. Before there did not seem the need, but it is different now.
In the context of Cyprus we can do more and we should do more.
Now when we see instances of violence or people bring us information, we
must do something about it.
It is true that many of our teachings do not get through to the
people, but this is true of many other things as well as the animals. It
has to do with the nature of the individual person; some will listen
and understand, while others will go their own way, against the teachings.
If you are a good Christian, you will love the animals and they will love you
back. There are many books showing this through the lives of the early saints.
You cannot find a holy man who has mistreated animals….
Let me be clear. Animals are the creation of God. We should treat
them with respect and not be cruel to them. What kind of soul they may
have has no part of that discussion. We should not be involved in this
type of argument as it only serves to confuse what should be very clear.
We should not be cruel to animals. We should treat them with love.
HE Metropolitan Isaias of Tamasou and Orinis, Orthodox Church of Cyprus,
Interview with Presbytera Christina Nellist, March 4, 2014
Q
Why should Christians respect animals?
How would you describe an Orthodox Christian attitude toward animals?
Do you know how the saints treated animals? What does that teach us?
Reflection


10 Friday June 11, 2020
The Continuing Work of the Church

From my heart I pray for all the workers and Missionaries of the love of
Christ, the Metropolitans and Bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and
All Africa, the Priests throughout Africa and our blessed children, Greeks,
Arabs, Africans, Serbs, Russians and Romanians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians and
all other nationalities, that the Grace of the Most Holy God will strengthen
your lives always.
Now that a new period of Missionary and Catechetical work is about
to start, we are all geared towards sowing and harvesting of the Word of God
in the hearts of the people. The evangelization of the nations, the teaching of
the people of God regarding the important issues of faith and Christian life,
the great problems of the world and society, joblessness, narcotics, diseases,
wars, the ecological problem, destruction and pollution of the environment
and many others, create in us all a huge problem and an internal need for
prayer, strong prayer, so that solutions can be found for all levels.
Having our faith in Christ as a rule, the joy and optimism which stem
from this perspective, we will continue with the “good fight,” we will remain
in the battlements and we will all be humble Missionaries of the good and the
beautiful, that which our Orthodox Church teaches us, applying the
exhortations of St Paul, which is beneficial for us all.
I send to you all the heartfelt Patriarchal blessing of the Apostle Mark
and my Paternal prayer, that the Almighty God “who holds the times and the
seasons in His own authority,” may protect and bless the whole world, the
blessed and suffering land of Africa, the continent of the future, the crossroads
of civilizations, granting health and happiness to all.
His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa,
In the Great City of Alexandria, September 1, 2009
Q
What is the work of the Church?
How can you participate in this great work?
Do you know what the exhortations of Saint Paul involve?
Reflection


11 Saturday June 12, 2020
The Experience of an Explosion of Love

Saint Isaac the Syrian and the Russian writer Fyodor Doestoyevskiy share
a common focus on love. Both declare that love is truth. St. Isaac is widely
respected because he speaks the truth bluntly and leaves his message to
work within us. St. Isaac speaks to anyone who is genuinely struggling.
He writes with a respect for those who are small and humble. His message
is that man can learn to enjoy stillness while living on earth. His goal is to
liberate each person from the cycle of corruption, to break down the
barriers that block spiritual progress. In this way Orthodoxy leads to a
glorious experience of theophany. …
This is also a message that Doestoyevskiy imparts. There is a deep,
indisputable connection, a spiritual kinship, between St. Isaac and Fyodor
Doestoyevsky. We might say that Doestoyevskiy is a St. Isaac in the
world.… Love and truth are connected. Out of silence, a radiation of
spirit, of consciousness, takes place. … The denying of one’s self leads to
salvation.
In prayer monks can sometimes experience an explosion of love.
This opens and reveals a vision that God is present everywhere and in all
things. When we experience how God fills all things with his life and love,
a ministry of service to the whole world comes into focus.…
His Eminence Archimandrite Vasileios, former abbot, Iveron Monastery,
Mount Athos, Greece, June 28, 2013
Q
Why is love also truth?
How is love related to God?
Why is service to creation also a form of service to God?
Reflection


12 Monday June 14, 2020
The Creation as a Living Gift from God

The creation is a living gift from God to all, a marvelous expression of divine
love and wisdom.
Through the human encounter with nature, a realization of the divine
becomes manifest. In our own personal life, the vast wilderness of the Egyptian
desert and its beauty have long been a cherished place for prayer and
contemplation. For this reason we continue to spend one-half of each week at
our residence at the Monastery of Saint Bishoy in Wadi El-Natrun.
The life of our Church not only encourages an appreciation of nature,
but places a duty upon all people to protect the environment and to prevent its
ever increasing destruction.
His Holiness Pope Shenuda III, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria,
Monastery of Saint Bishoy, Wadi El-Natrun, January, 2003

Why Ecology is a Spiritual Concern
The ecological problem is one of exhaustion in nature, pollution of natural
resources, annihilation of forests, utilization of dangerous natural forces
such as nuclear energy, and the production of new synthetic substances
which do not exist in nature and cannot be decomposed biologically.
On the basis of this, I have come to the conclusion that the
ecological problem is, actually, theological and religious in nature; that it is a
problem of faith and religious activity – of orthodoxy and orthopraxis. There
must be a radical change in the practical lives of all humanity, a new
environmental ethic which seeks the integrity of creation in all its forms.
HE Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland, “The Ecological Problem,”
Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, March, 1990
Q
How would you define the right treatment of God’s creation?
Why do moral and spiritual principles underlie right treatment of the world?
How should the Church teach a right relationship to God’s world?
Reflections


13 Tuesday June 15, 2020
Reintegrating Science and Religion

By the end of the 20th century, science and technology have acquired such
influence that it has become the decisive force in the life of civilization. At the
same time, despite Christianity’s initial impact on the formation of scientific
activity, under secular influences, they have led to serious fears and real
problems. The ecological crises which have hit the modern world challenge the
path forward. The scientific and technological level of civilization is such that
criminal actions of a small group can cause a global disaster in which even the
highest forms of life will perish irrevocably.
From a Christian perspective, these consequences arise because of the
false principle underlying contemporary scientific and technological
development. This principle requires that technological development should
not be restricted by ethical or religious requirements. With this freedom
scientific development finds itself at the mercy of human passions, including
vanity, pride and thirst for the greatest possible comfort. This frustrates the
spiritual harmony of life with negative consequences. Therefore, to ensure
normal human life it is now necessary as never before to restore the lost link
between scientific knowledge and religious, spiritual and moral values. The
need for this link is conditioned by the fact that a considerable number of
people believe in the omnipotence of scientific knowledge….
Mikhailo Lomonosov rightly wrote that science and religion “cannot
come into conflict… unless someone excites strife in them….”
St. Philaret of Moscow expressed a similar idea: “Faith in Christ is not in
conflict with true knowledge, because it is not in union with ignorance.”
Noteworthy is the incorrectness of opposing religion to a scientific worldview.
Only religion and philosophy can fulfill the function of worldview, which
no scientific knowledge is capable of assuming.
HB Patriarch Kyrill, Archbishop of Moscow and Patriarch of All-Russia,
“Russian Orthodox Church on Ecological programs,” June 1, 2012
Q
How do ecological crises challenge the path forward?
How can religion and science be in harmony?
What is “the lost link” between scientific knowledge and moral values?
Reflection


14 Wednesday June 16, 2020
A Bridge-Building Pathway

Nobody, not a religion, not a nation, not a state, not science and technology,
can face the contemporary world’s unforeseen challenges alone. In our present
day and age, we must promote cooperation and mutual trust. Building bridges
is the way to our common future.
Religions are diminishing their capacity to contribute to the precious
culture of solidarity because of their antagonism and wide-spread
fundamentalistic tendencies. The way to overcome these difficulties is the
unwavering commitment of religions to peace in the world and to interreligious
dialogue. To succeed in this task, together with the sensibilization of
consciences, a stronger mobilization on the action-level is needed.
The credibility of religions today depends on their attitude towards the
protection of human freedom and dignity, as well as on their contribution to
peace. Peace between cultures and nations cannot be reached without the
efforts of religions and without dialogue and peace between religions. It was in
this spirit that our Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, established a sincere
dialogue with Judaism and Islam nearly three decades ago, with remarkable
results in mutual understanding, peaceful coexistence and cooperation.
Religions can fanaticize people, they can divide and foster hatred and
violence. But, they are also able to humanize people and support and empower
their struggle for freedom, justice and reconciliation. We must work constantly
and consciously, so that the contemporary, yet ambiguous, “return of God”
and “renaissance of religion” will not become a return of war, conflict and
violence in the name of God and of religion, but a return of the “God of peace”
and the rebirth of the “culture of solidarity.”
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,, Eurasian Economic Summit,
April 5, 2017
Q
Why in our contemporary world must we cultivate cooperation and mutual trust?
Why do some religions cause a fanaticism in their believers?
How should different religions relate to each other?
Reflections


15 Thursday June 17, 2020
Globalization and Economic Inequality

The problem of social and economic inequality is one of the most pressing
and at the same time one of the most complex problems of the modern world.
Millions of people eke out a pitiful existence, suffering from malnutrition,
disease, various forms of discrimination and the degradation caused to the
environment. These problems become more acute as the world economy and
technological growth become globalized.
Globalization creates advantages for a small number of people and
risks for a huge part of the earth’s population. Economists admit that the
opening of markets in developing countries has mainly benefitted wealthy
countries and has brought about an increase, not a reduction, of the gap
between the wealthy and the poor countries.
The overriding principle of modern economic culture is profiteering,
the resolution of one’s objectives and the realization of one’s interests at the
expense of others. Humanistic values, which have at their root Christian
principles, have been devalued. An economy built on the cultivation of
hedonism is by definition immoral. Immoral too is humanity’s rapacious
attitude towards the natural environment, which suffers from the insatiable
appetite of a man of the consumer world.
We must remember that material benefits by themselves do not make
us happy. Moreover, a concentration solely upon material well-being leads to
moral degradation. Christ warns us: “Take care! Be on guard against all kinds
of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions”
(Luke 12:15). The Church calls us to treat wealth as God’s gift which is given
to humans not so much for themselves, but for the benefit of one’s neighbors.
Those who obtain profit should be made aware that a great responsibility rests
upon them – to be attentive to the needs of other people, to help eradicate
economic injustice in society, and thus fulfill the will of God.
HE Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Russian Orthodox Church,
Budapest Forum for Christian Communicators, September 6, 2019
Q
What is globalization?
Why is it that material wealth cannot satisfy?
How does material wealth become a test of one’s spiritual life?
Reflections


16 Friday June 18, 2020
Prayers Are Solicited for Peace

In the Church of Antioch, we are currently experiencing ecological and social
problems in a very urgent manner. At the heart of the Arab world there seems
now, more than ever before, a searching for more democratic social structures
together with issues related to freedom and human dignity. These goals now
challenge our conscience and compel us to ever deeper reflection.
In this highly confrontational context, we commit ourselves to a more
eloquent testimony to the power of the Gospel of Jesus, the comforter…. It is
in this humble fidelity to the life-giving spirit, stronger than the death that
surrounds us, we pray the Lord to bless your meeting.
In addition, we ask you to offer prayers more fervently for a Middle
East that is shaken by devastating waves of violence, so that the resurrected
Lord may teach the way of the future, the ways of peace, in which love
triumphs over hate, freedom over slavery, and dignity over humiliation.
HB Ignatius IV, Patriarch, The Church of Antioch
Damascus, Syria, September 8, 2012
Q
How do prayers help to reduce violence and suffering?
Why does love triumph over hate in the end?
What are the qualities which bring peace to society?

Reflections


17 Saturday June 19, 2021
The Challenges of the Future

When we focus on what the church is doing about a particular problem,
we must always remember that the church is not just the bishops, priests,
deacons and those with a leadership role. The church is all those who
participate in the eucharistic community. There already is a growing
sensitivity towards these issues among many lay people in the church.
Furthermore, we began to discuss this issue of the integration of creation
many years ago. Lay people played a decisive role in this. Scientists on the
frontiers of environmental research and those who make decisions in political
and economic life have been spokesmen for the Church just as much as
Church leaders….
The Book of Revelation has a strong element of realism when it puts
emphasis on the battle with demonic powers. This is not an easy story, it is a
real battle with victims, martyrs and heroes.
God is the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is, who was, and who is
to come. This is what gives us hope. God is not the God of the past, but the
God of eternity. This idea is repeated again and again. At the end of the Book
[of Revelation] there is victory, and the song of the new creation. The message
is one of hope, but only after going through all these battles, tragedies
and difficulties. I believe that keeping these eschatological and universal
perspectives in mind is the key to understanding our present in a realistic
way. It is most important in order to maintain this hope, to act in the local
situation while at the same time keeping the eschatological and the universal
perspectives in mind. In doing so we will be taking part in the concrete battle
of the century.
HB Archbishop Anastasios of Albania,
Patriarchal Symposium on The Book of Revelation, September 27, 1995
Q
How does dealing with principalities and powers relate to ecological problems?
Why do you think His Eminence calls the Book of revelation a message of hope?
Why is hope in the promises of God part of our ecological remembrance?
Reflection


18 Monday June 21, 2021
The Ecological Problem is A Spiritual Problem

I have many times expressed the opinion that the discussions and demonstrations
on the environment are reminiscent of dialogues of the deaf. While in theory,
all of us perceive the critical state of the [ecological] issue and many do take
initiatives or strive eagerly to contribute to its resolution, the problem remains
and has not been corrected.
The world is not the result of coincidences or accidental events, but it
was conceived by the Creator as a springboard for salvation. We human beings
have, or at least say we have, a regulatory role in creation, as its crowning.
However, we often forget our relationship with God and our place in creation.
We become autonomous, guided by dominating concepts and behaviors, which
are oppressive towards our fellow beings and the environment.
The saints of the Orthodox Church, having accomplished the purpose of
their existence as human beings and participating in the divine glory, show and
teach us the ecological ideal. Thus St. Isaac the Syrian defines the merciful
heart as “a heart burning for the whole creation, for people, for birds, for
animals, for demons, and for all creatures.” As for St. Cosmas of Aetolia, he
prophesied that “people will become poor because they will not love trees.”
The ecological problem is fundamentally a spiritual problem, with
enormous moral implications. If we do not free ourselves from egocentrism and
eudemonism (the belief that happiness is the test of right behavior), if we do
not have an ascetic vision of creation and of our rational and conscious use of
material goods and wealth, the ecological problem will spread, instead of being
stopped. This is why the fundamental challenge of World Environment Day is
for all of us to repent, to return to God the Creator, and to reintegrate ourselves
in the perspective of the divine plan for creation and the environment.
HE Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, Greece,
On the occasion of World Environment Day, June 4, 2019
Q
Why is care for the environment a spiritual problem?
How may we correct our relationship and interactions with God’s creation?
What is the ideal relationship that we as Christians should have with creation?
Reflection


19 Tuesday June 22, 2020
The Challenge of Our Generation

We all recognize that we can no longer desecrate God’s creation, whose origin
and destiny are inseparably identified with ourselves. What we refuse to do is
take the next step that is required of us as priests of creation, which entails
consecrating creation to the Creator. Avoiding desecration is only a partial
response to the ecological crisis; accepting and advocating consecration is the
fulfillment of our divine mandate to “serve and preserve the earth” (Gen. 2:15).
Such a sanctification and offering to God of “His own of His own, on behalf of
all and for the sake of all” (From the Divine Liturgy) unleashes the transformative
potential and restorative capacity of all creation for healing and wholeness.
However, in order to heal the earth, we must purify our hearts and
transform our habits. Every act of defilement on the body of creation is ultimately
contempt for the Body of Christ. Whereas when we demonstrate respectful
consideration for the earth’s natural resources, then we can also begin to discern
the perspective of the kingdom “on earth as in heaven” (From the Lord’s Prayer).
As Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has written: “Climate change
affects everyone. Unless we take radical and immediate measures to reduce
emissions stemming from unsustainable excesses in the demands of our
lifestyle, the impact will be both immediate and alarming.”
Therefore, each parish and every individual should seek out ways of
practicing prayer and care for God’s creation by applying the fundamental
principles of scripture, theology and tradition with regard to our relationship with the natural environment by considering changes in our attitudes
and habits with regard to food and travel, by reducing consumption of fossil
fuels and choosing alternative sources of energy with regard to lighting and heating,
as well as by raising and promoting awareness with regard to the divine gifts of
water and air. Every parish and community is invited and encouraged to
open a fruitful dialogue on this challenge of our generation.
HE Archbishop Elpidophorus, Protocol No. 22/19,
New York City, NY, September 1, 2019
Q
Why is it wrong and a sin to desecrate God’s creation?
How can members of a parish work together to address climate change?
Why is climate change an important issue for Orthodox parishes?
Reflection


20 Wednesday June 23, 2020
Avoid the Evil of Environmental Pollution

We know that pollution of the environment can have repercussions far away
from the point at which the pollution takes place….
Allow me to remind you of the ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus
according to whom there was once a people which considered the rivers to be
sacred and polluting them to be a sacrilege. Perhaps those who demythologize
ancient beliefs may regard such a concept as superstition. However, this belief
is preferable to the unscrupulous and irresponsible dumping of harmful
substances into the rivers, temporarily relieving those who selfishly pollute the
river, but harming their fellow humans who will use it.
Therefore, we must acquire a moral code higher than the one used by
such crude people and learn to respect humanity, accepting as a basic principle
that it is morally unacceptable to burden others with our wastes. This is the
only way to ensure that the Danube, the longest river of this region, becomes a
road of life for all….
This is the deeper reason why our humble person, whose mission is
the Christian education and sanctification of the Orthodox faithful, has
wholeheartedly sponsored the present series of ecological symposia. As the
Church Fathers teach, the root of all evils is selfishness and the highest
expression of virtue is selfless love. It is not permitted for faithful Christians
who are seeking sanctification to remain indifferent to the effects of their acts
on their fellow humans. The sensitivity of their conscience must be increased
so that they are not indifferent even to the indirect consequences of their acts.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “The Danube,
A River of Life,” Passau, Germany, October 17, 1999
Q
Why is pollution of the environment harmful?
What are some consequences of pollution?
How may a person increase the sensitivity of his or her conscience?
Reflection


21 Thursday June 24, 2021
Climate Change as an Urgent Christian Issue

As a theologian who has spent his life serving God and striving to make the
world a better place, I am deeply committed to do everything I can to stop the
crisis that is global climate change.
The United Nations summit on climate change, COP-24 [in Poland],
brings us to a crossroads in our striving to build a better world for our children
and future generations. As the meetings in Katowice will show, we are failing in
our climate change efforts. We are on a bus without brakes, traveling towards a
major destination. But we keep arguing about how to get there.
Whilst there is almost unanimous belief that the world is warming,
there are different opinions about how to address it. There is an ongoing
presumption that one view is better than the other? Some of us are very
familiar with this debate. The reality is, all beliefs are legitimate.
If we have any hope of protecting humankind and the planet, we need
to examine and test every solution. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an
obvious solution. Proven by science, commercial application and common
sense, CCS must form a vital part in our climate change response because it
removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Just as the UN Security Council is working with member states to
ensure the survival of humankind, we all need to work together – countries,
industry, organisations and individuals – using everything at our disposal to
protect our planet by reducing how much carbon dioxide we release.
Climate change success will only come when everyone is working
together and everything is embraced.

HE Archbishop Serafim (Kykotis), Archbishop of Zimbabwe and Angola,
Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa,
Harare, Zimbabwe, November 29, 2018
Q
Can you name some solutions to the global challenge of climate change?
What does the idea of carbon capture and sequestration mean?
What is your parish doing to address climate change? Why?
Reflection


22 Friday June 25 2021
Compassion for Animals

Compassion for animals is vividly expressed in the writings of a recent Athonite
Saint, the Russian monk Silouan (1866-1938). “The Lord,” he says, “bestows
such rich grace on his chosen ones that they embrace the whole earth, the
whole world within their love. …”
“One day I saw a dead snake on my path… and I was filled with pity for
every living creature, every suffering thing in creation, and I wept bitterly
before God.” Such is in truth the compassionate love that we are called to
express towards the animals.
All too often they are innocent sufferers, and we should view this
undeserved suffering with compunction and sympathy. What harm have they
done to us, that we should inflict pain and distress upon them?
As living beings, sensitive and easily hurt, they are to be viewed as a ‘Thou’,
not an ‘It,’ to use Martin Buber’s terminology: not as objects to be exploited and
manipulated but as subjects, capable of joy and sorrow, of happiness and
affliction. They are to be approached with gentleness and tenderness; and,
more than that, with respect and reverence, for they are precious in God’s
sight. As William Blake affirmed, “Every thing that lives is holy.”
HE Metropolitan Kallistos [Ware] of Diokleia,
Intl Orthodox Theological Association Conference, “Compassion for Animals,”
Iasi, Romania, January, 2019 Q
Why do you think it is that every thing that lives is holy?
What would it mean to embrace a sense of compassion for animals?
How would your life change if it included a sense of respect for all living things?
Reflection


23 Saturday June 26, 2020
Ecological Asceticism

The ecological problem, at root, is a spiritual issue. Many people dealing with it
[the environment] tend to overlook its spiritual aspects. Yet both historically and
practically it is impossible to address it without reference to religion and ethics.
What motivation can religion offer people facing the ecological crisis? Here are
some suggestions:
Stressing and promoting the idea of the sacredness of creation in all its
aspects, spiritual as well as material….
A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a vehicle
of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that the material
creation is… a sacred gift from God which is meant to foster and promote
communion with God and with others. Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature by human
beings leads to forms of culture which are deeply respectful of the material world
while keeping the human person at the centre.
A spirit of asceticism. An ‘ecological asceticism,’ if we may coin such a
term, begins with deep respect for the material creation, including the human
body, and builds upon the view that we are not masters and possessors of
creation, but are called to turn it into a vehicle of communion…. This last point is
of paramount importance. Human beings must realize that natural resources are
not unlimited. Creation is finite and so are the resources that nature provides for
our needs. The consumerist philosophy of life seems to ignore this truth.
Reconsider our concept of quality of life. Quality does not need quantity to
exist. A restriction in our use of natural resources can lead to a happier life than
the endless competition of spending and acquiring more and more.
Qualitative growth must replace the concept of economic development…
Asceticism must cease to be a notion referring to a class of religious eccentrics
and become synonymous with qualitative – instead of quantitative – progress.
HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Ecological Asceticism:
A Cultural Revolution,” April, 1996 Q
What does it mean that God’s creation is sacred in terms of human behavior?
How would you define ecological asceticism?
What does it mean to be a priest of creation?
Reflection


24 Monday June 28, 2021
On the Edge of Global Ecological Disaster

The Orthodox Church, aware of her responsibility for the fate of the world, is
deeply concerned about the problems generated by contemporary civilization.
Ecological problems occupy a prominent place among them. Today the face of
the Earth has been distorted on a global scale. Its bowels are being damaged as
are its soil, water, air, fauna and flora. Nature which surrounds us serves as the
life support system for humanity. Man however is no longer satisfied with its
diverse gifts, but exploits whole ecosystems without restraint.
Human activity has acquired an ability to affect global processes and
these powers increase constantly due to the accelerated development of
science and technology. Industrial wastes which pollute the environment,
bad agricultural technology, the destruction of forests and topsoil — these
suppress biological activity and cause a steady shrinking of the biological and
genetic diversity of life. Limited and irreplenishable mineral resources are being
exhausted; drinking water supplies are being reduced. A great many harmful
toxic substances have become present in the biosphere, which are not naturally
part of the earth’s circulation and accumulating. The ecological balance has
been violated. Man now has to face the emergence of pernicious processes in
nature, including the failure of its natural reproductive power.
All this happens against a background of unprecedented and unjustified
growth of public consumption, especially in the most highly developed
countries, where the search for wealth and luxury has become a norm of life.
This situation obstructs a just and fair distribution of natural resources, which
are common human property. The consequences of the ecological crisis are
proving painful, not only for nature, but also for man. As a result, the entire
Earth finds itself on the verge of global ecological disaster.
HB Patriarch Alexiy II of Moscow and All-Russia, “Declaration on the
Social Policy of the Russian Orthodox Church,” Nr. 13, 2000 Q
Why do humans allow the pollution and degradation of the earth?
How can we join together to stop pollution and defilement of the land?
What are the consequences of failure to stop pollution?
Reflection


25 Tuesday June 29, 2021
Avoiding Greed and Exceeding Our Need

St. John Chrysostom, urges: “In all things, we should avoid greed and exceeding
our need” (Homily 37 on Genesis) for “this ultimately trains us to become crude
and inhumane” (Homily 83 on Matthew), “no longer allowing people to be
people, but instead transforming them into beasts and demons” (Homily 39 on
1 Corinthians).
Therefore, convinced that Orthodox Christianity implies discarding
everything superfluous and that Orthodox Christians are “good stewards of
the grace of God” (1 Peter 4.10), we conclude with a message from a classic
story, from which everyone can reasonably deduce how uneducated, yet
faithful and respectful people perceived the natural environment and how it
should be retained pure and prosperous:
In the Sayings of the Desert Fathers of the Sinai, it is said about a monk
that eight hungry Saracens once approached him for food, but he had nothing
to offer them because he survived on raw, wild capers, whose bitterness could
kill even a camel. However, upon seeing them dying of extreme hunger, he said
to one of them: “Take your bow and cross this mountain. There, you will find a
herd of wild goats. Shoot one of them, whichever one you desire, but do not
shoot another.” The Saracen departed and, as the old man advised, shot one of
the animals. But when he tried to shoot another, his bow immediately snapped.
So he returned with the meat and related the story to his friends.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, June 5, 2010 Q
Why does greed condition a person toward becoming crude and inhumane?
In what ways does consumerism encourage us to acquire more than we need?
What does the story of the monk in the Sinai desert teach us?
Reflection


26 Wednesday June 30, 2021
Christians Must Become Sensitive to Ecological Issues

It is important that [Orthodox] Church members become increasingly
sensitive about environmental issues…. That will be challenging for the
people of the Church, but I think that we have already begun the process.
We have identified one problem as being indifference towards God’s
creation.
One of our tasks is to help the people who come to church become
more aware that a passive attitude or indifference towards ecological issues is
wrong, and that they should become more appreciative of the integrity of
creation, in other words the integrity of God’s work.
Although it is not reasonable to expect results immediately, at least
we have made a start. Fortunately in the Church we live in hope, and
therefore we have the hope that we shall be more effective in the future.
HB Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Symposium on The Book of Revelation,
Reflections, September 27, 1995 Q
Why is sensitivity to ecological issues important?
What is insensitivity to ecological issues? Why might this condition arise?
How does a person overcome this sort of insensitivity?
Reflection


27 Thursday July 1, 2021
Discerning Beauty in Nature and Every Person

According to the sixth century theologian Dionysius the Areopagite, the most
fundamental name of God is ‘good.’ This essential good, by the fact of its
existence, extends goodness into all things. For Dionysius, what exists is good,
and what is good is beautiful.
Dionysius gives us a picture of the universe in which God is the
source of all that is. For Dionysius, perceptible beauty is a dim reflection of the
unutterable Beauty of the Creator. It lifts our minds and hearts to its source….
The inanimate world and the world of plants and animals conforms to models
that express the will of God, divine paradigms we are unable to perceive
directly, but whose mediated presence, we can intuitively perceive.
Mankind alone does not conform to the divine paradigm… and therefore
does not conform to the image of God within. That image is not confined
to his conscience, or his reason…. It is found in the whole of his being. Each
individual human being is a hologram of the universe: everything that is ‘out
there’ is also ‘in here.’ Each of us is a microcosm of the whole. That is why we
can experience plants and animals as our sisters and brothers, because their
existence is implicit in the deeper levels of our being.
Thus our ecological task is to find ourselves in the universe, and find the
universe in us. Our understanding will never reach the depths that are within
us. However, we do not have to know everything before we begin to act. The
truth of our actions will depend on our conforming to the deep structure of our
own nature, and thereby bring our mode of behavior, into conformity with the
will of God, which is known to us in part, through the world. All religious
traditions have ways of helping their members to do this, and we must use the
resources of our traditions for a common goal, a common good. HG Bishop Basil of Sergievo, Russian Orthodox Church,
Symposium on the Black Sea, September 26, 1997
Q
What is beauty?
How may beauty become a teacher of personal behavior?
What does it mean that each person is a hologram of the universe?
Reflections


28 Friday July 2, 2021
Priestly Asceticism is for All Christians

The ecological problem, at root, is a spiritual issue. Many people dealing with
the environment tend to overlook its spiritual aspects. Yet both historically
and practically it is impossible to address it without reference to religion and
ethics. What motivation can religion offer people facing the ecological crisis?
Here are some suggestions:
Stressing and promoting the idea of the sacredness of creation in all its
aspects, spiritual as well as material….
A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a
vehicle of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that
material creation is… a sacred gift from God which is meant to foster and
promote communion with God and with others. Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature
by human beings leads to forms of culture which are deeply respectful of the
material world while keeping the human person at the centre.
An “ecological asceticism,” if we may coin such a term, begins with deep
respect for the material creation, including the human body, and builds upon
the view that we are not masters and possessors of creation, but we are called
to turn the creation into a vehicle of communion…. This last point is of
paramount importance. Human beings must realize that natural resources are
not unlimited. Creation is finite and so are the resources that nature provides
for our needs. The consumerist philosophy of life ignores this truth.
Reconsider our concept of quality of life. Quality does not need quantity
to exist. A restriction in our use of natural resources can lead to a happier life
than the endless competition of spending and acquiring more and more.
Qualitative growth must replace the concept of economic development which is
dominated by quantitative statistics. Asceticism must cease to be a notion
referring to a class of religious eccentrics and become synonymous with
qualitative – instead of quantitative – progress in human societies.
HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Ecological Asceticism: A Cultural Revolution,”
April, 1996 Q
What does it mean that God’s creation is sacred in terms of human behavior?
How would you define ecological asceticism?
What does it mean to be a priest of creation?
Reflection


Programs and Opportunities


The Face of God film
If you have not seen it yet, you are invited to view our new film “The Face of God:
The Orthodox Church and Global Climate Change.” See also the introductions to
this film with commentary from HB Bishop Ireniy from the Serbian Orthodox
Church’s Diocese of the East, from HE Archbishop Alexander from the OCA’s
Diocese of the South, and from HE Metropolitan Nathanael from the Greek
Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. See this at www.FaceofGodfilm.com


Reaching into Australia
Coming up next month the OFT will begin to circulate our film to the Orthodox
parishes of Australia. Please pray that this effort proceeds smoothly and effectively.


Linguists Needed
Additionally we will be translating our film into a number of languages, including
Albanian, Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Serbian,
Shona, Swahili, plus other European and Middle Eastern languages. If you would
like to volunteer your Native language skills, your help in translations would be most
appreciated. Please send a note to our office, c/o FKrueger@Sonic.net


Forty more hours
During the production of our film, our team recorded over forty hours of interviews,
much of it inspired and eloquent. Our next task is to sort through these “out takes”
and place these commentaries on a fifth page of our film website. If you have film
editing skills and would like to use your abilities in service to our Church, please
contact our office. Thank you.


Help us Help our Church
The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration has as its purpose to restore
awareness of Christ’s presence everywhere in creation, and thus hallow God’s Name,
“on earth as it is in heaven,” by seeking the transfiguration of creation.
Your donation can help us in this challenge. Thank you.
Donate:
Mail to: The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration
P.O. Box 7348, Santa Rosa, California 95407 USA
Orthodox Christianity Complimentary copy

The Unified Vision and Spiritual Direction of the Orthodox Patriarchs as they
call us into care for God’s Creation

Websites:
www.Orth-Transfiguration.org
www.FaceofGodfilm.com
https://www.facebook.com/christinthewildernessprogram/?ref=page_interna

Lab-grown meat firms attract six-fold increase in investment

This excellent article is from the Guardian.

Funding soared in 2020, while study shows 80% of people are open to eating meat grown in bioreactors

A cultivated chicken burger
A cultivated chicken burger. Cultivated meat products are produced in sterile facilities without antibiotics, thereby reducing the risk posed to human health by antibiotic resistance. Photograph: Quique Kierszenbaum/The Guardian

Damian Carrington Environment editor@dpcarrington Tue 11 May 2021 11.00 BST

The nascent industry growing real meat in bioreactors had a record-breaking year in 2020, with investment growing sixfold and dozens of new companies being founded.

A study also indicates that 80% of people in the UK and US are open to eating meat produced in a factory rather than a field, with the researchers concluding that cultivated meat is likely to be widely accepted by the general public.

Cultivated meat can produce significantly lower climate-heating emissions than meat from methane-burping cattle and other livestock, and also requires much less land and water. Cutting today’s overconsumption of conventional meat in rich countries is seen as vital in tackling the climatecrisis.

The companies are developing commonly eaten meat, such as chicken and beef, but also tuna, lobster, horse and kangaroo. The products are produced in sterile facilities without antibiotics, thereby reducing the risk posed to human health by antibiotic resistance.

The Good Food Institute (GFI), a charity focused on sustainable proteins, found in its annual industry report that cultivated meat companies received more than €300m in investment in 2020, and the number of companies grew by 43% to 76.

It said several companies were moving out of the lab and into facilities capable of producing thousands of kilograms of meat a year. These include Mosa Meat in the Netherlands, whose founder produced the first lab-grown beef burger in 2013.

“Early moves were driven by the promise of cultivated meat – real meat with a fraction of the adverse climate impact and with no contribution to antibiotic resistance or pandemic risk – but no one knew whether the world was ready. Now we know,” said Bruce Friedrich, the executive director of GFI.

Cows in Normandy, France. A recent report suggested Europe and North America could reach ‘peak meat’ by 2025 thanks to plant-based alternatives
Cows in Normandy, France. A recent report suggested Europe and North America could reach ‘peak meat’ by 2025 thanks to plant-based alternatives. Photograph: DBPITT/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Plant-based alternatives to meat, such as the Beyond Burger, have reached the mass market, while cultivated meat will not be widely available for at least a few years. However, the backers of cell-based meat believe its authentic taste will give it an advantage and the world’s biggest conventional meat companies, such as Tyson and Cargill, are big investors in the sector.

Cultured meat was approved for sale for the first time in November in Singapore. A recent report suggested such meat would remain more expensive than regular meat until the early 2030s, but that Europe and North America could reach “peak meat” by 2025 thanks to plant-based alternatives. An analysis in 2019 suggested most meat would not come from slaughtered animals by 2040.

Acacia Smith, a policy manager at GFI Europe, said: “The cultivated meat sector had a record-breaking year in 2020. But it’s notable that much of this progress has been happening outside Europe.

“To stand a chance of meeting their climate targets and ending deforestation, governments must invest in the open-access research we need to make cultivated meat accessible and affordable.”

The research on attitudes to cultivated meat is published in the journal Foods and examined the views of 4,000 representative consumers, half in the UK and half in the US. “We found a high level of openness – 80% – in both the US and UK populations, with 40% highly likely to try and 40% somewhat or moderately likely to try,” the researchers said.

Younger generations had the greatest openness. More than 85% of those under 39 years old said they were likely to try cultivated meat. About 75% of those in older age groups said the same. On average, people said they expected cultivated meat could make up about 40% of their future meat intake.

“The results suggest that cultivated meat is likely to be widely accepted by the general public, especially the younger generations and an eager group of early adopters who appreciate its benefits,” said Keri Szejda, at Arizona State University in the US, who led the study. “These groups tend to need little encouragement to try new food innovations,”

The study was funded by Aleph Farms, an Israeli company that revealed the world’s first lab-grown steak in December 2018. Didier Toubia, the chief executive, said: “The long-term vision is to provide a better alternative to industrial livestock farming, which represents approximately 70% of global meat production today.”

GFI’s report says fundamental technological breakthroughs are not necessary to produce mass-market cultivated meat, but that engineering challenges remain to keep reducing costs.

Earlier in May, Israel’s Future Meat said it had halved the production costs of its cultivated chicken breast in the past four months, from $7.50 to $4. The company expects the cost to drop below $2 within 18 months.

HOW TO GREEN THE ORTHODOX PARISH

Coordinator of Programs & Special Assistant to the Director Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America 973.413.9375

Dear Friends,

Christ is Risen!
Three videos have been released for the “How-to” Green Your Parish Series! Please share with your networks.


“How-to” Videos

Episode 1: The Green Patriarch with Archdeacon John ChryssavgisOrthodox Observer Press Release – https://www.goarch.org/-/greening-how-to
Facebook post –  https://www.facebook.com/orthodoxobserver
YouTube videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG4fMMon2mw


Episode 2: Greening the Parish – Practical Tips with Dr. George Nassos Orthodox Observer Press Release – https://www.goarch.org/-/greening-the-parish-2 Facebook post – https://www.facebook.com/orthodoxobserver YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64JY6Qgshtc&list=PLWopa4I5g3xAJSQNaS6gn5XpNX1Wl8xWC&index=2

Episode 3: Creation and Sacraments with Archdeacon John Chryssavgis Orthodox Observer Press Release – https://www.goarch.org/-/greening-parish-3 Facebook post – https://www.facebook.com/orthodoxobserver YouTube video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAtcSpqZ1r8&t=2s

With incredible thanks to each of you, a new video will be published each week. After the first 5 episodes are released, they will be uploaded to the Greening the Parish Resource Page (greenparish.goarch.org). Make sure to check out the page if you haven’t already!

Also, Dr. Jane Goodall’s message to the Orthodox Christian Community on Greening the Parish is available here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pru3daEaljA&list=RDCMUCTVCPFDKwtfTtPzIna-Lucg&index=2

We have been so impressed by each video, and we’re excited to have them be shared with Orthodox faithful and parishes, and others who may find the videos as a great resource.

Make sure to stay tuned each week to the Orthodox Observer online here, their Facebook page here, the Department’s Facebook page, and also the Archdiocese YouTube channel here.

If you have any questions or further suggestions for videos, please let me know!
With gratitude,

Climate Crisis & Creation Care: Eco-Economic Sustainability, Ecological Integrity and Justice

Dr Christina Nellist

These volumes (1 & 2 ) feature chapters by groups of international specialists, with expertise in different disciplines, who write from different contexts and cultures. They come together to write with authority and clarity on various aspects of the climate crisis and care for the natural world. They write either from faith-based or secular perspectives but share a vision and desire to explain why we are in this situation, ask difficult questions of us and institutions, and explain how we might affect real change.  Regardless of their expertise, they write in the hope that we – either as individuals or as decision-makers in government and civil society, will be guided to respond to the climate crisis far more quickly than is currently the case. For without swift action, we condemn future generations of human and non-human animals, to lives of intolerable climate and social instability, with little hope of regaining what humans have squandered by our collective arrogance; more explicitly, to the certain death of billions of people and species of flora and fauna, as the ‘Hothouse-Earth’ scenario becomes reality.

     Some write with bravery on topics that are rarely discussed such as corruption in government or the media, or biased fiscal systems and on challenging subjects such as population or animals as testing material or as co-workers. Some voice criticisms of governmental and institutional indifference that have brought us to this existential crisis. Others write from a scientific or legal perspective on planetary boundaries or the legal case for the right to a healthy environment, whilst others still, combine subjects such as economics and ethics, theology and dietary choices or medical unpreparedness, social welfare and mass migration.

     As a theologian and lifelong conservationist, I have always argued that people of faith and their clergy, must be engaged in these subjects, both individually and institutionally (locally and nationally) just as they are engaged in providing alms or justice for the poor, or in the provision of schools, health clinics and feeding programs or in the prescription of diets.

The climate emergency is real, it is imminent and without local action, millions, possibly billions of people and certainly billions of animals and plants species will die, if our religious institutions among others, do not ‘set the scene and grasp the opportunity’[1] given to us by God to prevent such calamities.

Expected publication Summer 2021.


[1] Refers to my chapter title.

Animal Welfare Assured Farming Systems in the UK. Don’t be fooled by advertising campaigns.

As many of you will know, our charity was a partner in the Christian Ethics of Farmed Animal Welfare research project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. We visited many farms and some slaughter houses over the course of the project and the following charts are part of the Policy Framework for Churches and Christian Organisations document (Nov 2020). For a copy see http://www1.chester.ac.uk/cefaw.

I am galvanised to write this today having seen an advertising campaign promoting one particular ‘farm assurance scheme’. This particular scheme ranks lowest in all the schemes and is just above the minimum legal standards.

What consumers should be aiming for is the best available system and so the following information – in chart form- should help you see the differences between these schemes for the different forms of animal farming.

Ideally for the sake of one’s health, for reductions in animal suffering and for the sake of the planet, one should not be eating any animal products but that is for another discussion!

EU Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals (2012-2015): the European Commission’s evaluation is finally out

This is a new post from the Eurogroup for Animals who review the above Strategy:

The Animal Welfare Strategy 2012-2015 aimed to lay the foundation for improving animal welfare standards and to ensure that they were properly applied and enforced across the EU. Eurogroup for Animals congratulates the Commission on conducting a thorough and comprehensive evaluation process drawing lessons from the previous decade activities in the area of animal welfare.

The evaluation shows that the Strategy’s implementation process clearly faced serious issues and did not deliver against its objectives or generate significant impact for animals. Given the evidence provided by the evaluation, Eurogroup for Animals appreciates the current Commission’s fresh approach: reviewing the animal welfare acquis among other actions as foreseen under the Farm to Fork strategy.

Key points 

The evaluation confirms that 4 out of 6 overarching objectives of the strategy didn’t, or only partially deliver, including: a simplified EU legislative framework for animal welfare; providing consumers and the public with appropriate information; optimising synergistic effects from the current Common Agriculture Policy (CAP); supporting international cooperation. Very little or no results were delivered in these areas. 

We did see some results on the objectives to develop tools to strengthen Member States’ compliance with existing legislation, especially with regard to the compliance with the Laying Hens Directive and the group housing of sows. However, despite these efforts, the evaluation also admits that serious compliance issues still exist with regard to the implementation of the Transport Regulation and Pig Directive. This begs the question why the Commission did not apply similar approaches to all compliance issues, e.g. by launching infringement procedures.

With regard to the objective related to the welfare of farmed fish, although several studies were conducted, this didn’t lead to any measurable results or recommendations. The planned revision of the animal welfare legislation needs to take the newly found scientific knowledge and the consumer interest into account to ensure farmed fish species are better protected at EU level.   

The lack of a monitoring mechanism and of data to effectively measure the progress or the impact of its activities, makes it very hard to measure the effectiveness of the strategy. In this respect, the strategy was ill-conceived and the Commission should draw lessons from this for the future. Although many reports and guidelines were delivered, the evaluation failed to demonstrate to what extent these have contributed to better lives for animals. 

The evaluation presents the foundation of the EU Platform for Animal Welfare and the EU reference centers as indirect results of the strategy, however, although these initiatives are applaudable, they were initiated outside of the scope of the strategy.

The evaluation of the strategy acknowledges that consumer interest in animal welfare has increased significantly over the past decade and that the strategy has not been able to meet consumer’s expectations.The evaluation shows that the Strategy failed to live up to its promises mainly due to a lack of resources, effectiveness, as well as the absence of appropriate tools to measure impact. Now it’s time to look forward though, and we agree with Commissioner Kyriakides: a lot more needs to be done to meet the expectations of EU citizens. The opportunities are there, one above all: the Animal Welfare aquis revision gives the EC a powerful tool to really change the lives of billions of animals.Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

A deep dive into the Evaluation of the EU Strategy on Animal Welfare

Terrestrial farmed animals 

  • Despite the overall aim of the Strategy was to improve animal welfare within the EU, the legislation gap was identified, but not addressed, setting the scene for a mismatch between the relevance of the problem and the overall irrelevance of the responses. Indeed the action designed to contribute to a more uniform protection of animals across the EU lacked specificity which undermined its delivery.  
  • There was a lack of integration with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), one of the biggest financial instruments of the EU that can foster – or undermine – the implementation of existing animal welfare standards.
  • The Strategy aimed at strengthening Member States’ compliance and the evaluation concluded that “the actions and activities designed to support Member States to improve enforcement and compliance (objective 1) were the most appropriate”. However, de facto poor implementation was still recorded with regards – at least – to the Council Directives 2008/120/EC (DG SANTE audits from 2017; and 2018) and 2007/43/EC (EC, 2017), as well as the Council Regulations (EC) No 1099/2009  (CJEU, 2018) and No 1/2005 (DG SANTE audits from 2017; 2018; and 2019). 
  • The evaluation highlights that the Strategy could have been more operational and it seems difficult to draw conclusions on its overall relevance. Doubts persist on its effectiveness and coherence, and lack of data makes it impossible to assess its efficiency. Nevertheless, we welcome the overall efforts of encouraging coordination and exchange of information and best practices among Member States and, indirectly, of setting the basis for the new European Commission’s work: we fully trust the EC’s commitment to take stock of the major shortcomings of the strategy and act upon them via the EU Farm-to-Fork Strategy, thus revising animal welfare legislation with the aim to make them 1) specific to all the animals being farmed for food production and 2) easy to enforce and implement.

Fish

  • We welcome the fact that the increased consumer interest and understanding for fish welfare has been recognised and that follow-up actions for fish welfare, under objective 3,  are called for. 
  • Since 2012, the stakeholder view has changed drastically and the need to protect so far inadequately protected species, especially farmed fish species, is seen as a crucial factor for the upcoming revision of the animal welfare acquis to ensure implementable and enforceable legislative provisions for farmed fish. 
  • Although unrelated to the Strategy’s outcomes, the referenced guidelines by the Platform of Animal Welfare sub-group for farmed fish are a major accomplishment for fish welfare and need to be taken into account for the fitness check for the revision of the animal welfare legislation. 

Equines

  • We welcome that the shortcomings in terms of enforcement, non-compliance and uneven playing field have surfaced in the consultations. As a next step we would like to see specific actions from the EC to mend these shortcomings such as expansion of training activities for competent authorities, comprehensive sets of rules for equines as well as improved enforcement of penalty schemes and infringement procedures.
  • In terms of transport legislation, in order to evaluate the impact of the initiatives it is necessary to take a more quantitative approach stepping away from the questionnaires and remote evaluations, and moving towards a more experimental and comprehensive approach including animal and environment based indicators. Ultimately only embedding guidelines in a legislation accompanied by adequate and comprehensive training will give more desired outcomes.
  • A great omission is the  lack of recognition of the other equidae beyond horses. We would like to see recognition of the EU PAW work on the topic, and see the outputs of the platform to be recognised in the EU Reference Center on Welfare of Ruminants and Equines.

Cats and Dogs

  • The general objective of achieving welfare for all animals has not included cats and dogs, hence we hope that a number of already existing recommendations will be recognised in the future work of the European Commission, e.g. TRACES, transport, breeding and online sale recommendations of EU PAW.
  • Despite the study undertaken revealing a series of gaps, since 2012 no efforts have been made to fill in these gaps, e.g. to improve the collection of statistics on cats and dogs movement across the EU.
  • Trade of pets is currently not dealt with. In order to ensure a safe pet market for EU consumers that is monitored and where animals, sellers and breeders are traceable, there is a need for rules on EU pet trade.

Trade

  • We welcome that the evaluation recognises that the EU had a strong influence on slaughter standards in third countries, “as EU legislation contributed to changing the methods used in third country slaughterhouses”. This is a confirmation that the EU should look into imposing more EU animal welfare standards on imported goods. Such an approach would also contribute to address the concerns expressed by businesses regarding the lack of level playing field. 
  • We also welcome that the Commission recognised that “the challenges to the inclusion of more specific requirements on animal welfare in trade agreements are linked to the fact that animal welfare is not explicitly recognised under the World Trade Organization General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)”. This should also motivate the EU to include these considerations in its strategy around the modernisation of the WTO. We welcome the recognition that there is a need to improve coherence of trade policy with the objectives expressed by the strategy.
  • We welcome that the objective of international cooperation is seen as a long-term objective and that actions on this should continue.
  • While the evaluation states that “the issue of coherence with the trade policy has been addressed by consistently including commitments on animal welfare cooperation in Free Trade Agreements”, it does not look at the concrete result of this animal welfare cooperation started by the EU with third partners under FTAs. The reference to the case of Chile is outdated as it occurred before the period covered by the strategy. 

Wild animals 

  • The welfare of wild animals, even though vaguely mentioned in the Strategy, has not been addressed by any of the Strategy’s actions
  • So far, the EU has failed to address the impact of wildlife trade on animal welfare, both at EU level and in the context of CITES. Only two CITES Resolutions address the welfare of traded animals and no efforts have been made to fill in these gaps.
  • We welcome that most stakeholders stressed that this lack of protection for wild animals was a major issue for the implementation of the Strategy.