The Crisis of Modernity and the Climate Crisis

This statement was made by the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Irene in Sep 2020.

Modernity confronts us with many dilemmas. Man must answer challenges, and not
only those for which his teachers in his educational-upbringing process prepared
him, but also totally new and different problems that life places before us. And it has
always been so. Sociologists, pedagogues and culturologists generally agree that
today’s world is changing at a significantly faster pace than ever before. The
technological progress and social innovations of the 20th century have transformed
the world much faster than, for instance, the entire process of development during
medieval times. This process is characterized by a loss of values. Today’s world
functions as a marketplace, meaning that the market economy principle is seeking to
impose itself as the general norm.

The person is the central notion of Christianity: the person is the measure of all
values because it expresses the very designation of the human being, its possibility
and its goal to be in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1,26). To be sure, the
concept of person is not only a Christian category: more precisely, it is possible to
also find it in other theological conceptions. Nevertheless, only Christianity has
produced an integral ontology of personality and established a corresponding
personal pedagogy on its basis. It should be seen as the living experience of the
Church, founded in Christ’s Theandric personality. In that way – through an
Christological steadfastness of being and faith – as partakers in the new soteriological
existence of Redemption and Integration we can meet the challenges of modernity.

But, egotism encourages us to view the world as an opportunity for acquisition
and enjoyment. At every Divine Liturgy, St. John Chrysostom reminds us to
“commend ourselves and each other, and all our life unto Christ our God.” A Man
who is captive of egotism is not able to build the right relationship either with God or
with other people: “when there is a feeling of higher worth, it does not only damage
relations between people, it clouds the relationship with God… egotism undermines
all life, which is why it is worth applying oneself towards its eradication.” That is
why the entire Liturgy is one great reminder to overcome our own “I” in order to
achieve communion in the life of the New Creation, in the future Kingdom.

Where must we live in the contemporary world? Only in the place where truth
resides – in Christ’s Church, in its dogmas and its worldview that is, before all –
liturgical. Truly, as a cosmic event, Liturgy cannot “fail” to witness to the world its
true designation in communion with God.

The Church has never avoided facing the crisis of the world that it is supposed
to change, due to its experiential knowledge that crisis – is the ontological state of
the world until Christ’s Second Coming. There is no other world than the “world in
crisis”; it is a world that the Church loves, that it does not anathematize for its
sinfulness but, rather, lavishes it with “works of love in Truth.”

Respected theologians of the Serbian Orthodox Church began to raise serious
concerns about environmental crisis and urgent problems of global warming, floods,
risk of forest fires, sea pollution from plastics, climate changes, etc. Pastors and
theologians of the Church, as well as Christians in general, have always erred, missed
and betrayed their ecclesial task whenever they argued and matched wits with “this
world” and their epoch using methods and arguments of “religious reason,” straining
to prove the world’s sinfulness and condemning it, from the heights of their supposed
“salvation,” to eternal perdition while, in fact, completely and irresponsibly
abandoning it to the power of anthropolatric ideologies and manipulations. And, on
the other hand, Church pastors and theologians have always triumphed over the
world and won it over for Christ’s “easy yoke” (Matthew 11,30) whenever they have
witnessed to it Christ’s Love for the life of the world, liturgical love and sacrifice “in
all and for all.”

What is expected of contemporary Christians, as 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 apostatic
modernity, but a responsible witnessing of the Truth of God-Man Christ, and an
unmasking of all the anthropolatric ideologies, falsities, misconceptions and
injustices through the love of Christ. The basis of Christian witnessing in the modern
world must be a liturgical love for that world, a love prepared to sacrifice for the life
of the world, instead of a dualistic puritanism that, from the heights of its righteous
self-satisfaction, abhors the “world (that) lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5,19) and
anathematizes it, hating, along with sin, the sinners themselves, contrary to the
example of Christ, Who came into the world for the sake of the sinners, to call them
to repentance (cf. Matthew 9,12-13).

The loss of the Christian experience of life, worldview, criterion of everything
and value system is the mark of the modern fall of the “Christian historical world.” After twenty centuries of her baptismal-resurrectional history, the Church finds
herself once again in a situation of existing in a world that is no longer “hers,” that is
no longer a Christian world, that defines itself as a “post-Christian” world, a “world
after Christianity,” a world that no longer bases itself on Christian foundations and
assumptions, that is either indifferent or openly rejects the Christian theory and
practice of life, thought and action, i.e., Christianity as a whole, together with its
theology and anthropology, ontology, ethics and esthetics, cosmology and ecology.
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. We give a clear
message for Orthodox climate leadership, focusing primarily on the Balkan Peninsula
and Mediterranean, which is facing mounting challenges caused or exacerbated by
climate change and the broader environmental crisis.

The experience of the entire creation (the World) as Home, is possible
exclusively and solely from that which is the Wholeness of Heaven and earth, history
and the Eschaton – from the Body of Christ and in the Body of Christ, Christ’s
Church, which is larger and higher and more encompassing than the world, “which
surpasses Heaven itself,” which contains within herself not only the entire cosmos,
not only the visible but also the invisible world, “all worlds” “life, immortality and
eternity, and theandricity.” That is because graceful ascetic knowledge of God is the
source of all other human knowledge – self-knowledge (anthropology) as well as
knowledge of the world (cosmology, ecology).

The ascetic experience of the Fathers, i.e., the “renunciation of the (fallen)
world,” commanded by the God-Man Christ Himself (“If any man will come after
Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me…” (Matthew 16,24),
“lies in the very nature of the Christian philosophy of life and means a radical change
of relationship with the world and with oneself, and a change of the way of life,
behind which lies a demand for freedom that only the Holy Spirit can grant.”
Let us all recall the commands of God regarding our use of the earth as Our
Home. 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.

Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Irinej (†)

Belgrade, Serbia
September 2020

God and St Francis discuss lawns

God to Saint Francis Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

Saint Francis It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

God Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

Saint Francis Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

God The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

Saint Francis Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

God They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

Saint Francis Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

God They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

Saint Francis No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

God Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

Saint Francis Yes, Sir.

God These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

Saint Francis You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

Saint Francis You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

God No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

Saint Francis After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

God And where do they get this mulch?

Saint Francis They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

God Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

Saint Francis ‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about….

God Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

A Sustainable Environment: Our Obligation to Protect God’s Gift

George P. Nassos

In Addition to Climate Change and Our Natural Resources, Think About Water

I have talked about the increasing problem with climate change and our natural resources, but another major environmental issue is the decline in quality and quantity of fresh water in the world. Roughly, 97% of the water on the planet is saltwater while only 3% is freshwater, what is needed for human consumption, industrial use, and agricultural use. But how much of this freshwater is truly available for use? Not very much. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, only 5% of all the freshwater on the earth is available which is only 0.15% of all the water on earth. The rest of the freshwater is in icecaps, glaciers, and groundwater. And how does this freshwater use break down: roughly, 60% is for agricultural use, 30% for industrial use, and only 10% of the freshwater is for human consumption. That means that the available water for human consumption is only 0.015% of the water on this earth. And as the population continues to grow, the amount of available water per person will continue to decrease.

The biggest consumers of freshwater are the agricultural fields around the world. According to an estimate in National Geographic, the agricultural demand for water is expected to increase by 50% by 2050. Here in the United States the biggest decline in water for agriculture is probably in the west, mostly affecting Arizona, California, Colorado, Neveda, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. This decline is primarily due to the droughts affecting the Colorado River which supplies water to these seven states. They are currently trying to decide how to reduce water consumption. Some of these states have already imposed laws against the installation of lawns for new homes.

One way of reducing agricultural water consumption is to move quickly to urban farming, also known as vertical farming. This refers to growing fruits and vegetables in some high-rise buildings using hydroponics. The major benefits of urban farms include the use of at least 90% less water than in agricultural fields. In hydroponics the water is fed directly to the roots of the plants and not spread over agricultural fields where only 5-10% of the water reaches the plant. In addition, you can grow crops 365 days per year and transportation costs go way down because the building can be in the middle of the market demand. Another benefit is the much lower requirement for fertilizers and pesticides. Since the plants are all indoors, there is a need for artificial lighting, but this can be supplied by renewable energy to keep the cost down. Now is the best time to add more urban farming with the availability of empty office buildings, thanks to more people working from home.

Water for industrial use is primarily needed for manufacturing such as fabricating, processing, washing, diluting, or cooling. A large amount of freshwater is also used for power generation in coal-fired and gas-fired power plants as well as nuclear energy plants. In these cases, the water is heated to produce steam which is needed for the electrical generators. With a continued increase in solar and wind energy, the demand for these other forms of power generation should decrease.

Although human consumption of water is the smallest portion of the use of freshwater, we each have a personal requirement to manage it as best as possible. We have relied on groundwater for many years, but this source of fresh water is depleting quickly. One example is when Nestle, the world’s largest bottled water company, was filling bottles with freshwater in Michigan until the groundwater source was completely depleted. The company received approval from Washington to switch to Lake Michigan for its bottled water. Now, the Nestle plant consumes water from the lake and ships most of this bottled water to Asia. On top of that, we really shouldn’t be consuming bottled water as it takes almost twice the content of the bottle in water just to produce the plastic bottle. In addition, only 10% of these plastic bottles are currently recycled.

Something else to think about is that the water we use to flush a toilet is of the same quality as the water we drink. Does it have to be that clean? When remodeling, we should consider installing a toilet with a sink above it. This way disposed water from washing our hands or face will go into the toilet tank and used for the next flush. There are even urinals for men’s restrooms that have a small sink above each urinal. When the person is through using the urinal, he can remain there to wash his hands and have the wash water be used to clean the urinal. Again, using water for multiple applications.

As mentioned earlier, several states are preventing new homes from being built with lawns on the property. The reason is obvious because of the quantity of water that most people feel is necessary to maintain a nice lawn. I have not watered my lawn in over 20 years, and it doesn’t look any worse than some of my neighbor’s who do water their lawns. One of the reasons is best explained in this story of St. Francis talking to God about lawns. God and St Francis discuss lawns – ABC (none) – Australian Broadcasting Corporation If you have been watering your lawn, I am somewhat confident that you won’t do it anymore after reading this conversation.

Let’s all be cognizant of the value of this critically important resource that is so limited.


Creation Care Christian Responsibility Session

St Andrews University, St Andrews, Scotland. June 2023

At the end of June, the Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals Charity ran a session entitled ‘Creation Care Christian Responsibility’ at the European Academy of Religion’s conference at St Andrews University in St Andrews, Scotland. It was a session full of interesting presentations from three Orthodox theologians and philosophers and one Catholic theologian, who took the place of Fr Simon who had recently died, and we are grateful to her, both for her willingness to engage with us and for her valuable contribution.

Eastern Orthodox theologian Dr. Olga Sevastyanova opened the ‘Creation Care Christian Responsibility’ session with her excellent paper entitled The Breath of God in Creation. Her paper explored the three scriptural Hebrew terms נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh), נְשָׁמָה (neshama) and ר֣וּחַ (ruah) rendered into English as soul, breath, or spirit. Dr Olga demonstrate that in the Scriptures, there is no clear distinction between God’s immortal breath /spirit (neshama/ruah) and the breath/spirit (neshama/ruah) within creatures. The whole of creation participates in the life of God by the very fact of its living. It is always God who animates the creatures, both physically and spiritually. She brought attention to the fact that the breath of life (nishmat hayyim), breathed into the human nostrils at Creation according to Genesis 2:7, does not constitute the difference between humans and other creatures. Both animals and humans are animated by God’s breath. She explained that this raises the question about the place of animals within Orthodox Theology. Where does the sharp theological distinction between the animal world and the human come from? For what reasons did Orthodox theology displace animals from participation in God? Her paper interrogated these questions using the theology of St. Gregory of Nyssa.

Eastern Orthodox philosopher Natalia Doran (above) then gave her presentation entitled Animal theology in the writings of St John of Damascus. Natalia explained that as someone who wrote the nearest to a summa theologica that the Christian East possesses, St John of Damascus can be relied upon to provide a sophisticated and consistent conceptual framework within which a variety of issues, including issues to do with animals, can be discussed. She explained that the terms that are of particular interest are nature and hypostasis. While it is generally accepted that there will be some type of animal life in the ‘Age to Come’, it is by no means certain that it will be the same animals whom we know and love here, in this space and time continuum. However, following the logic of the ontological priority of the hypostasis that St John adheres to in his exposition of the Orthodox faith, she argued that, since creation is fundamentally particular, it will be animal individuals (hypostases, or persons) who will share eternity with such of us who are worthy of it.

The third member of our team was the Catholic theologian and founder of the Animal Interfaith Alliance, Barbara Gardner, who gave her presentation on The Golden Rule and Compassion for All Beings. She explained that she was representing the Animal Interfaith Alliance (AIA), which is a unique alliance of faith-based animal advocacy organisations which represents the major faiths, and focuses on what we have in common and on what unites us, rather than what differentiates us.  We recognise that the Golden Rule, “to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself” is common amongst all faiths and traditions, dating back millennia.  We also recognise that all faiths and traditions have included animals in their definition of “others” in the Golden Rule.  She reminded us that sadly, many of the followers of those faiths and traditions today, and for hundreds of years in the past, have forgotten that the rule applies to all sentient beings – beings who can feel pain and suffer, and who can experience pleasure and happiness.  In our ever more human-centric world, animals have become excluded from our circle of compassion.  They have become reduced to mere commodities for our use, with little or no regard for their complex emotional, social and spiritual lives. She went on to explain that the AIA aims to educate people on the original teachings of their faiths and to reinstate the fundamental principle that we must extend our circle of compassion to include all conscious, sentient beings, and that we must extend to them also, the golden rule and treat them as we would wish to be treated ourselves.  All member groups believe in a lifestyle which does not harm others.  Animals are sentient beings who have the right to live freely and not to be made to suffer by humans and exist for their own sakes and not for ours.  We believe that we are part of an interconnected web which includes the Earth and all its inhabitants, both plant and animals.  By abusing part of that web, we damage the rest of it, including the environment and ourselves.

Finally, Eastern Orthodox theologian and Chair of the session, Dr Christina Nellist gave an outline of one of her forthcoming sessions at the Volos Academy of Theology in Greece, entitled The Creation Care Christian Responsibility Course. She explained that this course, originally written for an Orthodox audience, is easily adapted for use by other Christian denominations. It is for use in Christian parishes, youth groups, seminary institutions or for individual study. It may also provide a useful framework for homilies. The course, consisting of eight lessons, establishes that concern and compassion for animals is not a modern phenomenon, but one found both in the Bible and in the earliest teachings of the Christian Church. It provides an anamnesis of a lesser-known Christian tradition, where all animals are loved and protected by God and that their suffering is against God’s will. It reminds us that in our role as Image, we should strive to reflect the Archetype in our lives. At times, it also highlights the soteriological implications of our abuse and exploitation of God’s non-human animal beings and the wider creation. It reminds us that by causing harm to animals or by our indifference to it, human salvation is in jeopardy. It is written to facilitate Christian Church engagement with the subjects of animal suffering and climate change, which, though separate subjects, are deeply interconnected.        


In his 2018 book ‘Wizards and Prophets’, C. C. Mann describes the work and approaches of two of the most important environmentalists of the 20th century – William Vogt and Norman Borlaug. Unfortunately, their ‘blueprints’ are contradictory approaches to the problems of Climate Change. Mann categories those who follow Borlaug’s model of ‘techno-optimism’ (that science and technology will resolve the problems) as Wizards. Those following the Vogt model are described as Prophets – ‘those decrying the consequences of our heedlessness’, those calling for a lighter carbon footprint. Whilst each derided the other’s view, neither are described by Mann in terms of ‘good and evil’, but in terms of ‘different ideas of the good life’.  These group of followers I describe here as groups One and Two. Many in society fall into these two categories and of course, we find them in the Christian Church.

There are however other categories, as Mann acknowledges, though he sees these as part of a continuum of thought – overlapping in places. Group Three, the ‘Climate Deniers’, are those who in my terminology, seem to believe that Climate Change is nothing more than a giant conspiracy. There is a fourth group, those I describe as the ‘Vested Interests’, who know of Climate Change but choose to continue to maximize their wealth and influence, regardless of the damage to the rest of society – likely ‘the principalities and powers’ that the Apostles identified as the opponents to a Christ-like life and human salvation.

Recently, the IPCC gave its latest, probably penultimate warning to the world – a framework for human survival. The first two groups of humans are not surprised at its findings and continue to worry at the lack of action in the timeframe that is available to act. The fourth group is also not surprised, but they are too rich to worry, as they have already bought enough land in enough places to beat the odds, and of course, have super-yachts as a fall-back position, should the time of Noah return. But what of the third group who refuse to listen to those whom God has sent to warn of the impending ‘flood’? Without help from the Christian Church, which ought to offer a different voice to group Four, they are likely to continue to listen to the vested interests. Is it ignorance or arrogant indifference that we find in this group? Whatever it is, they need guidance.

As our governments overall, have ignored the previous reports and urgent timeframe, it is reasonable for a theologian to ask – who will be in the 21st century ‘Ark’? The answer is likely to be two-fold. Firstly, there will be several ‘Super Arks’, with group 4s on board, and perhaps some smaller versions with some group 1 and 2s on board. Secondly, Group 3 will be left floundering and are likely to die of starvation due to food scarcity; or on their exodus from their lands that are underwater or parched dry; or in the civil unrest and war that will arise as societies break down into lawlessness and mass migration, as climate instability, food and water scarcity increasingly manifest, and they realise their foolishness in listening to those in group 4. So, is that it? Is nothing to be done? As the IPCC suggests, there is a still a small window of opportunity available to us.

All four categories of human outlined above are to be found in the Christian Church. Thankfully, most Patriarchs have acknowledged the existential danger of Climate Change and instability, and most have spoken on its perils and of the need for Christians to lead more eco-theologically sustainable Christian lives. However, there remains a gap between what is taught at the top of our Christian Churches and what is happening at parish level, and after decades and decades of prophetic Christian teachings, we must ask in earnest why this is so?

There is a group of powerful clergy in the traditional Christian churches that exist between the Patriarchs and the priests and whilst there are a few Archbishops and Bishops that are actively encouraging their priests to engage with the Climate Crisis unfolding before us, many – too many – are not. The forensic question to ask is why? What is it that prevents them from giving their priests the permission or instruction to engage with the most pressing issue of our time? Maybe some of them belong to group 3 – they hear the teachings, hear the warnings, but refuse to believe them? C. S. Lewis writes brilliantly on this possibility in the ‘Screwtape Letters’, as one of the errors our human race can fall into – that is, in not believing in the existence of the devil – or in modern terms – the powers that work against Christ and us, to prevent us living a Christ-like life and thus achieving salvation:

‘Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head…Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church…Teach him to call it ‘real life’ and don’t let him ask what he means by ‘real’…But the best of all is to let him read no science..’

Whilst we might expect this to be the case in the majority of group 3 ‘Climate Deniers’ in wider society, we ought not to expect these views in our churches.

Maybe some Archbishops and Bishops are under the direct influence of some of the rich and powerful group 4 and feel unable to speak out due to financial pressures, constraints, or threats of defunding? If this is the case, then we must pray for them and keep praying for them until the veils/scales fall from their eyes, and they take on the courage of Christ. Whatever their reasoning – they have lost their way.

The final forensic question, which is set with the backdrop of plentiful material and courses available for use in our parishes is this – will there be a soteriological consequence for those who have been given the privilege and power to act to save their flocks, the wider communities, and the other creatures within them, but fail to do so?

How You Can Help Unwanted Abandoned Pets in the UK *

Sadly, there are many pets that are homeless in the UK. You can help reduce this alarming number by advocating for these defenseless animals, just like Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals.

Rehome a pet

Rehoming an animal instead of purchasing them from a breeder is one of the ways you can reduce pet homelessness.

Why not pay for a trip to one of the many pet shelters in the UK? There are many different shelters to choose from, so find one in your area or neighborhood that’s trying to make a difference for animals..

Get your home ready for him or her. Apart from making sure you have a dog bed, a harness, dog toys, etc. you also need to pet-proof your home to make it a safe environment for your pet.

Take time to bond with them by implementing routines they can get used to. Also, be sure to set aside time in your day for quality bonding with your pet.

Start a non-profit organisation

You can help the animal society at large by starting a non-profit organisation of your own to be the change you want to see.

Decide on your company’s primary objective. Will it be an animal rescue nonprofit, or an organisation that specialises in rehoming pets?

Make sure you apply for a non-profit status, which will ensure that you get the tax exemptions needed to acquire special grants.

Market your business to generate awareness for your plight. Creating a new website can help you build credibility with the public.

Make use of social media to help build a loyal following for your cause. You can upload a PDF to Facebook in some cases if you want to provide detailed information about your organisation in a succinct format.

Donate if you can

If you have the resources to donate to organisations that need them, then be sure to contact them right away to help animals that are in desperate need of love and care.

Look at different animal charities and donate whenever you can. Charities often cover different things (stopping animal abuse, helping rescue animals, etc.), so find one whose mission statement stirs a fire in your heart.

Another way to help animals in dire situations is by donating items to charity. In addition to food and supplies, you could also donate items like towels, blankets, and bedding.

It is easier nowadays to advocate for a worthy cause, especially if it involves the welfare of animals because people aren’t afraid to speak up anymore. It is even easier to help spread the word about what you’re doing with social media and online tools that can help you get the public’s backing more quickly.

This article is from one of our supporters Mike Nicholson. Whilst Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals is happy to share such articles, the opinions expressed are that of the author.

Animal Blessing Service, 26th February 2023

Earlier today, an Animal Blessing Service took place at the St. Martin of Tours Church in Detling, Kent. It is a very old church and is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. The building was constructed in the 12th century with 13th and 15th-century additions and restoration carried out in the late 19th century. It is a Grade I listed building.

Brief note on the tradition of Orthodox Animal Blessings

Before we established the Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals Charity, we went and sought permission from Archbishop Gregorios of blessed memory. He immediately gave his permission and blessing. He also told stories of how, when he was a boy in Cyprus, his mother would come back with prosphoron and give some of it to their animals. After he was ordained, he would go into the garden and bless their animals. One might think this unusual until you learn that blessing animals has been an Orthodox Tradition for centuries. Indeed, there are famous prayers for animals from Saints Mamas and Modestos and there are, according to Met. Kallistos of Diokleia, ‘In the Orthodox book of blessings and intercession [Evchologion/Trebnik or Book of Needs] prayers for many species of animals, including bees and silkworms.’ The service today follows in this ancient Christian tradition.

Fr Simon Nellist is the Orthodox priest at The Church of the Annunciation in Boxley, Kent where the Rev. Robert Tugwell is the Anglican priest.

They came together on World Animal Pet Day, to perform a short but beautiful service to a small group of 9 people with 6 companion animals, all of which on this occasion were rescue dogs. (Picures on our FB site (6) Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals | Facebook )

The service opened with Fr Simon reading the following prayer for companion animals and their owners, which included a section of the prayer of St Mamas:

Blessing for Companion Animals and their owners

Blessed is our God, always now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and God saw that everything was made and behold it was very good. Almighty God we come together to thank you for the beauty and the glory of your creation, to praise you and your holiness and grace, and to acknowledge our responsibility for our companion animals and to thank you for their friendship and the love that they show us. Let us pray with the whole church and in the words of the saints, poets, and theologians, for all those who acknowledge the beauty of your creation and in particular, for those animals in our care. Help us care for them with love and compassion, so that they may lead long and happy lives.

From the Prayer of St Mamas

Yes, O Lord our God, Who made the heaven and the earth, and Whose Word grants all things towards salvation to our people, do not neglect this my prayer, from Your humble and lowest servant; but hearken to me, O Lord Who loves mankind, and this my prayer when read, whether to wild, domesticated or companion animals. Do not let sickness or other temptation come close to these animals, that being always guarded by You, we might offer up glory and worship to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen

The Rev. Rob then asked the congregation to stand and sing the Hymn ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful.’ He went on to give a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the whole of creation, which he reminded us in a short sermon, is suffering because of our sinful ways. We prayed for the lives, companionship, love, and trust that we give and receive from our companion friends. He likened this special relationship to the special relationship we have with God – for it reminds us of the trust, faith and love we have in and for Him, who love and cares for all His creation.

A member of the congregation then sang a contemporary song on the beauty of creation.

The service closed with a blessing for the animals and their owners. There was no barking or mess and the animals were clearly happy to participate.

At the end of the service, doggie treats were available for the animals and the smiles of the owners spoke to the joy in their hearts at receiving this blessing.

At the end, one of the parishioners sat with her dog, speaking quietly with the priest at one end of the Church and reminded me of how in the ‘When Faith meets Fur’ story on our website, the opportunity arose for fellowship and teaching to one of his congregation, see here  WHEN FAITH MEETS FUR – Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals (

A society that treats animals inhumanely is sliding into the Middle Ages and barbarism.

Archpriest Peter Dynnikov at the shelter in 2018

The founder of the first church animal shelter in Russia, which is at the Ilyinsky Church in the village of Lemeshevo near Moscow, Archpriest Peter Dynnikov in an interview with Interfax-Religion correspondent Elena Verevkina spoke about different approaches in different societies to the issue of pets.

– Father Peter, the media spread information that on the eve of the World Cup, funds were allocated from the state budget for the destruction of homeless animals. How do you feel about such initiatives?

You’re asking me a complicated and extraordinary question because I’m a priest, not an expert on such matters. I have loved football since childhood, it is a smart, spectacular game that attracts people all over the world. Especially the World Cups, I haven’t missed any since I began to understand and appreciate football.

The sad thing is that such actions are being prepared. Of course, this is due not only to the World Cup, this situation is permanent, despite the adoption in 1999 of a ban on shooting dogs in Russia. Nevertheless, such a vicious practice exists everywhere and everywhere in our country, and both the authorities and those who oppose such decisions are aware of this. The new law on the protection of animals, according to animal rights activists, turned out to be half-hearted in the sense that it prohibits cruel treatment, but at the same time it is necessary to prove that the treatment was cruel, to open a criminal case. In fact, the ban should be absolute. You can not put the animal on a chain, mock it. Cruel treatment should be a priori punishable. Any murder, no matter how good a deed it is covered up, remains so. Murder is an atrocity. Good deeds should not be done through evil and murder. There is a Commandment , thou shalt not kill. It is very extensive and is not projected only on a person.

On the eve of the Great Chinese Leap From 1958 to 1960, Mao Zedong urged everyone to fight sparrows. The Chinese faced the problem of hunger, and they were told that the cause of their troubles was sparrows. In Soviet times, a documentary was shown before a feature film, and now my child’s heart remembered the terrible footage when thousands of trucks carry the carcasses of these unfortunate sparrows. In 1955, mao Zedong’s call was answered both day and night by people with rattles, with gongs and not allowing sparrows to sit down and rest for a single minute, then the sparrows fell dead. In a short time in Beijing, sparrows were finished once and for all. It would seem that this is a good deed, because people fought for the harvest, but as a result, the grain was poisoned by pests, which sparrows could no longer destroy, and this did not solve the problem of hunger. I remembered this because you can’t designate pets as “extreme” in human problems. All problems are created by a person, the animal itself cannot create problems, especially since we are talking about animals that are called domestic. Both the dog and the cat are pets that have been tamed by man, and tamed means that he must answer. We are not talking about tigers, hippos or wolves, we are talking about those animals that live next to us. As a result of the wrong attitude to the animal world, animals were “to blame” for human problems. Unhappiness only intensifies when this or that campaign takes place, as the Beijing campaign took place then. If a campaign is launched related to some event in which animals should suffer, then this is immoral and unacceptable, from my point of view.

The championship is a temporary phenomenon. Animals can be isolated, caught and placed in shelters for the duration of the championship, and then released into the area where the dog was caught. You can attract volunteers to care for animals for this time. It’s school holiday time! Children can help and at the same time learn kindness, see someone else’s pain and see how even a simple walk with a shelter dog changes the whole world of this dog. Our authorities attract volunteers for the championship itself, and it is also possible to attract volunteers to shelters. It is possible to organize food collection pointsFor these animals, so that shelters are not burdensome to feed them. The money planned for capture and shooting should be redirected to the temporary maintenance of animals during the championship. Yes, it is possible that shelters will be temporarily overcrowded. But that’s temporary. Maybe at this time someone can take the dog to the country? But it also needs to be communicated to people.
I know that abroad nursing homes are combined with animal shelters. I understand that this is impossible here, but it’s a pity.

— How does the Church relate to animal protection issues, in particular to the topic of protecting animals, which throughout history have served as companions of man?

“Since last year, in the Russian Orthodox Church, of which I am a priest, in early September we read a special prayer for God’s creation, for all the creations that god created, including animals.

If we pray for creation, for God’s creatures, the Church suggests treating them as the Bible treats them. The biblical view is that all that the Lord created was created by Him in joy to Himself, the Creator, because He concluded every act of creation with the words: Everything that I have created is good. So the Lord rejoiced in what He had done. On the sixth day, the day of the creation of the world and man, the Lord said that he would produce a living soul, cattle and reptiles, beasts according to their kind. It’s about the living soul. If someone says that animals do not have a living soul, this is incorrect from the point of view of the interpretation of the Bible. This is the same living soul as that of man, with the only difference that man as the highest creation of God on earth stands at another stage of development, he is potentially God-like in the image and likeness of Him. The Bible says that every breath praises the Lord, which means that any form of life in its own way praises the Creator. How can we relate to what the Lord has done with joy? Then the Lord commanded man, as the greatest creature created by God, to give names to all animals and plants. The Lord commanded people to rule over the world He had created, to command and rule over that world. To rule is to manage wisely, to love the creation that God has created for us. This does not mean that we should rape this world and distort it, disfigure it. Ugliness is the absence of the image of God in anything, and when a person deprives a creature of what God has given to this creation, he brings it into a state of ugliness, which, unfortunately, happens to both nature and the animal world.

If we talk about animal protection, then, from my point of view, and I express only my point of view and I emphasize this, Noah, who made the ark at the behest of God to save the human race and the animal world, we can say in modern terms, was a zoo rescuer. In this ark, not only mankind was saved, but by the instructions of God and the animal world. It is amazing that the Lord took care of the animals so that they could be saved! The righteous Noah can be considered the patron saint of animal rights activists. Moreover, with the saved man and animals, the Lord made a covenant as with intelligent beings, it was a covenant not only with man, but also with the animal world, the Bible says this.

If animals have souls, they go to heaven, do you think? Can we hope to meet our pets in another world?

– There is no definitive answer to this. The Lord created a living soul. When it comes to an animal, it is quite the same living soul, only it is not created in the image of God, it is the prerogative of man. Is it eternal? I don’t know, because this is an issue that has been debated for many centuries by the Holy Fathers, there are different opinions on this matter. Whether we will be able to meet animals in the future, there is no direct answer in the Bible, I also do not know, but the prophet Isaiah, who talks about the vision of the future of paradise, wrote that the wolf will graze with the lamb, and the leopard will lie with the goat, and the little child will walk them. The point is that even in the state of the future, the Lord wants to see animals together with man.

— You have a lot of experience with dogs and cats. Do you think there are any qualities in these beasts that can be learned by a person?

Man should learn from them boundless devotion, because only an animal that idolizes man can love man so faithfully. To them, we are the greatest creature they see in front of them. A person can hardly die of melancholy, having lost his neighbor, even if it was the closest person: time passes, which grinds everything, and a person regains his normal qualities, moves away from grief. And the animal sometimes does not, the animal can die of longing for the owner, because for him the master is the Universe, and the loss of the owner is the loss of the meaning of existence. We are talking about tamed pets that love a person and are attached to him. Treating them badly is immoral and undignified. The attitude to the animal world was best expressed by Russian literature. Remember Leo Tolstoy’s famous expression? A society that treats animals badly will always be criminal and destitute. He said it as a humanist and writer. “And the beast, like our smaller brothers, never hit the head,” said the great Russian poet Yesenin. His “Song of the Dog” is so heartfelt! In this poem, the poet revealed the soul of the animal – that it knows how to suffer from the loss of its cubs, to suffer infinitely. An animal that has lost its cubs is in the same grief as a woman who has lost her children. The poet shows this with great force. “Kusaka” by Leonid Andreev… These are the works that should be boardroom in schools, all this should be passed by children without imposition, with the right explanations, then they will correctly relate to the animal world, first of all to those who surround us, to pets.

How did you come up with the idea to create a shelter at the temple? How did it all start?

“It started with the fact that we saw unfortunate animals. The temple was built, it was without a fence, stray dogs and cats were nailed to us, which are often nailed to construction sites. We had such mongrels, and abandoned cats came. Hostesses. You can see when the cat is wild, and when the host. The impetus was the conversion of one parishioner who had departed to another world, the Kingdom of Heaven, before departing for another world, she tearfully asked me to take care of her “children”, as she called them. She had no children, she lost them a long time ago, was already elderly and lived only with her cats, she had three cats. She wondered what would happen to them when she left. And we had nowhere to take, we had to take ourselves to the parish. There were no conditions. There was a small house for the workers, where they lived. There were such special cases when people who took animals and had to take care of them, their tongue does not turn to call the owners, threw us unhappy pets. Once a shepherd dog appeared at the parish, which suffered from oncology, an absolutely unhappy animal, its owners deceived us – they said that they could not keep it, they have allergies. When we took the animal, it was very restless from the loss of owners, the dog was attached to them and was very homesick, having lost them. When we served the service, she looked out the window of the temple with human eyes, we did not have a fence then. When I was doing every day, I saw through the window how she ran to the temple and looked so hard that it was simply impossible to bear, this look cannot be conveyed, so pathetic and suffering. She was not taken care of by these careless people (after such an act I do not want to call them as such), but by mongrels who laid down on her and warmed her. Then the conditions at the parish for animals were absolutely not. The cabin was cold, unheated, and these dogs were lying on top of her, one on top, the other on the bottom: she was getting cancer and freezing. They warmed her to their last breath with their bodies. The animals had more mercy and compassion than those who had to take care of the one he had tamed. This was one of the impulses to create a shelter, although the shelter is loudly said, we do not have any fixed status. It is possible to keep a certain number of cats and a certain number of dogs on our territory due to the fact that it is impossible to build for people there, a high-voltage power line passes through the territory. Much further on, aviaries and warm kennels are made for dogs. Now we have very good conditions for dogs. They live for three, a maximum of four, compatibility is important so that they do not have conflicts. Our dogs have free range, as befits an animal. They run quietly at any time – both in winter and in summer. By winter, the booths are insulated with hay. If someone needs special conditions, for example, small dogs or disabled people, then we transfer them to the room.

Who helps you take care of animals?

– Parishioners. We don’t have any workers. After the emergence of our hospice, it is still a hospice, here the animals live, I met people who helped me to attach some of the cats. They are called animal rights activists, volunteers, I first encountered them then, in a good way they would put a monument on the territory of Russia instead of ridiculous monuments, which can sometimes be found in cities and villages. It would be a monument to mercy and motherhood. There is such a city of Griazi in the Lipetsk region, Valentina Silich lives there, I do not know her personally, but she alone saves so many animals, so many dogs! This suggests that she has a huge human heart filled with boundless love and kindness. This is the right attitude to the animal world, as it should be. Such a humane attitude should finally spread throughout Russia.
As a rule, here in Russia, women turn out to be morally stronger and more resilient than men. They have been fighting for animal rights for 18 years, and they are being slandered in every possible way – for the fact that they do not consider a close creature as a piece of meat for dinner or a potential fur coat, but treat the living soul differently. So it only magnifies them. Europe has long followed this path.

– And why are there no stray animals in Europe? How did they achieve this?

– I read that in Norway there was a period when a moratorium on the sale and breeding of purebred dogs was introduced for ten years. Breeding was strictly regulated and purebred dogs were left only for the police, for search services and guide dogs for the blind. During this decade, all the dogs from shelters were dismantled. Stray dogs were gone.

– How can you influence the consciousness of people so that instead of getting pedigree dogs and cats, they begin to take animals from shelters and from the streets? Should they get dogs as a fashion accessory?

– And how can you influence the consciousness of a person if he treats an animal as a thing? And our laws treat them as a thing, and this enters the consciousness of people. The animal is considered as a fashionable attribute. It is necessary to suggest that this soul is alive and requires the same attitude as to any living soul – that a person should be treated correctly, that an animal should be treated. How to influence in general, I do not know, I do not have a complete answer. It is necessary to change the consciousness of society in relation to the animal world. Books should be read in childhood normal. Remember Leonid Andreev’s about how the dog, which was also treated as a thing, came, indulged, and then indifferently left, abandoning it, and the dog was so accustomed to warmth and affection that it could no longer live without it, because the living soul? “I wanted to be warm, to a loving woman’s heart, the dog howled.” That’s how worried this dog was! And then people from childhood will understand that it is necessary to treat animals as a living being, and not as a fashionable thing. Whoever tames must be held accountable. In prosperous countries, there is a moral and criminal responsibility of man to animals. It is very difficult to buy a dog in Germany, you need to collect a lot of documents, certificates that a person is of sound mind, and so on. They follow the education of the dog, it must be adapted, socialized. Everyone follows these rules. We often encounter the fact that dog owners are inadequate people, and these inadequate people acquire quite serious breeds that injure other animals and people. Where do mongrels come from? Mainly due to the fact that purebred dogs enter the mating without any control. For example, in Poland, strict control and accounting are maintained. This is the only country in Europe where there is a real record of dogs, how many of them and what breeds. They have these statistics, and we have a huge number of animals that run on their own. Shooting is inhumane and unnatural. Then there should be a sterilization program. In India, this is possible, there is a different attitude towards both cows and dogs, in Istanbul they walk calmly: President Erdogan introduced a harsh law – now a person who cruelly treats an animal can get ten years in real prison.

We have sterilized dogs. Despite the fact that the Lord said “be fruitful and multiply”, this is good in natural conditions, and in an urbanized world, where their offspring are doomed to hunger, disease, suffering, it is better to let them live, but with such restrictions. This is my conscious, difficult decision. Here, of the two evils, we must choose the lesser. Initially, I opposed sterilization, but when the problem became tough, there were epidemics, pestilence, I decided to do it and I believe that the decision was the right one. Cats have become more tame, do not go far. Dogs also began to stay closer, and aggressiveness as such in them disappears, because aggressiveness in a dog manifests itself during estrus, when there is a struggle for possession, a natural instinct acts, they begin to “beast”. The human community also knows the moments when, huddled in criminal packs, it beasts. Take, for example, the recent sensational case when it was said that dogs beat a person to death – a dark matter, it is not clear how it really was and how it ended. If this was indeed the case, then such tragedies should not be allowed. But on the eve there was another egregious case, which, however, did not cause much resonance: a pack of angry teenagers beat a disabled person, a izur.leaving his face unrecognizable, and it was filmed. It’s a complete loss of human form, a raging pack. Why didn’t this case cause such a resonance, but only the case of dogs? The dog does not understand, it has an instinct, but a person understands, and only a person with creativity and an abstract vision can do this perversely. The animal does not possess abstract vision, it can attack to protect itself or win back territory. But as a person sometimes does when he enjoys torment and torture, this is a perversion of the mind, and only he is capable of this. Alas, it is. Mikhail Vinogradov, a well-known psychiatrist and criminologist, said that 95% of maniacs and murderers in childhood were engaged in livehood and experienced pleasure from the fact that they tortured animals, and then tortured and tormented people.

At one time, I was reminded of the words of Dmitry Zhmurov, who teaches at the Siberian Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, he said: to kill an animal only to deprive it of life is like killing a person in yourself. I was shocked by these words, he subtly noticed it, as a psychologist. A person who kills an animal deprives himself of his mind, deprives himself of the title of man, because he has deprived himself of the image of God laid down by the Creator for other things, and not in order to torment those whom the Lord has entrusted to us to take care of.

– On December 13, the State Duma adopted amendments to the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes of the Russian Federation, which toughen the punishment for cruelty to animals. Do you think these measures are sufficient to prevent deliberate cruelty?

– Yes, there is the possibility of punishment, and there are already the first examples when several people were actually punished for livestock. But that’s not enough. The very inhumane attitude to the animal world to outlaw is an atrocity. As long as we do not have responsibility for this, there is only responsibility for actions with the intention of causing pain or suffering to the animal, for actions that caused its death or injury.

A dog should not be kept on a chain. Drug addicts, drunkards, deranged people, devoid of reason, should not keep animals. This should not happen, and in this sense the law is imperfect, it is not brought to an end, because there should be punishment for an abnormal attitude to the animal world, and not only for a proven crime. If we observe such an attitude, then a person has the right to suppress this phenomenon. Then society becomes humane and humane.
As a citizen of Russia, I object to the fact that animals are killed with my taxpayer’s money, let them build shelters with my taxes. But shelters should be guarded by the media, animal rights activists, because those that exist now, they cannot be called such, sometimes they resemble concentration camps. There, animals are often tortured, not fed, not watered, kept in cages, in unnatural conditions. Money is allocated for this, which is obviously not so spent if the “maintenance” of the shelter becomes an immoral business. If there are shelters, they should be accessible to the media, so that we know about the state of these shelters, they should be created by loving people. I think there would be animal rights activists in the country who would take on such a function. In the Netherlands, there is a whole police unit that deals with the rescue of animals, and, judging by the fact that people who are not indifferent write on the Internet, many of our animal rights activists would gladly join such detachments. People want to help, they want to realize themselves in the field of animal protection.

— How do animals most often get to you? Are they the ones who are sent to live?

– Different fates, different options. We do not accept animals on a call, when they call, they ask: take it. I would gladly take everyone, but as an abbot I am an appointed person, a mortal at that, and I cannot take on such obligations. I’m going to recruit animals and what’s going to happen to them? Who will come to my place? May God grant that this was a person who would preserve this shelter with the blessing of the ruling bishop. I have an assistant, a graduate of the Kolomna Seminary – if he came to serve me, he could continue this work, he loves animals very much. I can’t take any chances, so we only take a select few. That is, I must know for sure that this animal was once among people, the owner, the owner either died or is sick, he no longer has the opportunity to deal with the animal, and it turned out to be on the street. These animals suffer the most. Those who wandered the streets, they are accustomed to this condition, they do not care, they can, unfortunately, be killed there, or they will be overtaken by hunger or disease. And we took those who suffered for a person. There were, of course, emergency cases when we found crushed dogs on the road, with injuries, without eyes, without paws.

– How many wards do you have now?

– 53 dogs and the same number of cats. It’s a big farm, but we’re coping with it. Some of the Moscow animal rights activists began to help us, they bring food, we would not have coped with it ourselves. Volunteers come from Moscow, bring food, warm clothes for animals, help. Moscow children have repeatedly collected parcels for us, which is a good start in two schools in the capital. They held exhibitions and three times brought us all possible help. Their loving children’s hearts responded. We were very pleased with this, because children are engaged in this.

– Can I come to you with children to communicate with your animals?

– Yes. We have pets, but when people come and bring infections, it’s bad. Some people have pets at home, some bring infections on clothes and shoes. This is a minus, there are serious diseases, when this infection remains for three years in the soil, there is pestilence. We didn’t know that before. Dogs are smaller and cats are very sensitive. Dogs are more persistent, it is easier to communicate with them. I have already received this knowledge from animal protection.

Do you have no veterinary or medical education?

– No, no, what are you! Animal rights activists tell us what can and cannot be done. I want to say that communication with animals is an experience that fills life and makes it full. It is impossible to live without the animal world, life becomes scarce, undue, incomplete.

Did you have pet animals as a child?

– There was a decommissioned service shepherd dog Julbars. Her father took her out of pity, she was a very intelligent dog. There were animals and pedigree, and mongrel. And now there’s a dog I’ve found, I’ve had a French Bulldog living for twelve years. People took it and threw it away. It’s an “after-breath”, she lacked something for the breed. An extremely loyal dog. And the cats I have — mostly the ones that have been affected by humans and that have been thrown away. They become very devoted if a person loves them for the second time. Trusting the person again, they will die for you. I’ve always had animals, and I’ve been read the right books as a kid. I re-read them myself, we had a large library. In those days, there were beautiful films on this topic. “White Bim is a black ear”… How can you not touch this movie! It shows both high spirit and meanness of man. This gradation of people continues.

“Now they are afraid of injuring children, they are afraid of upsetting them…

It is very good if a child is upset, it means that he has the ability to empathize, there is suffering, mercy and pity. Otherwise, no one will be upset about him if he feels bad. We need to comment on these films correctly. What struck me most about the film was the scene that was cut out in the modern version – when the dogs were shown on the livestock, real dogs were filmed there, it was obvious and creepy. They felt that death would soon come for them, they were sentenced. I will never forget this scene of the film, although it has already been deleted.
Cruelty to animals must disappear. Contact zoos should be banned. If society wants to develop, it must treat animals humanely. It is necessary to revise the concept of society’s attitude towards our smaller brothers.


This is an English translation of a Russian article from and permission sought for republication

Book Review

Book Review

Climate Crisis and Creation Care: Historical perspectives, ecological integrity, and justice,


Climate Crisis and Sustainable Creaturely Care: Integrated theology, governance, and justice.

Edited by Dr Christina Nellist. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021

For many, climate change might seem an area which has been over-explored already, plenty of varied tomes have been written, what we need now is surely some action. So, why do we need a two-volume collection of forty-one varied and diverse chapters, covering a wide range of perspectives, with respect to climate change and human relations with our wider creation? Should you be asked, just refer the questioner to this intriguing and genuinely path-breaking collection of essays, edited by Dr Christina Nellist.

Climate Crisis and Creation Care: Historical Perspectives, Ecological Integrity and Justice – Cambridge Scholars Publishing

We should, perhaps admit to some bias when it comes to Dr Nellist and her work, she is, after all, a friend of us here at CCA, and has contributed to our work, not least in this journal. Moreover, we were pleased to contribute to this collection, with a chapter based on our ongoing work on fish, as were other organisations and individuals we work with, including Animal Interfaith Alliance. Indeed, you can find readings of excerpts from these two chapters on CCA’s podcast, and more will be appearing soon.

Climate Crisis and Sustainable Creaturely Care: Integrated Theology, Governance and Justice – Cambridge Scholars Publishing

These books manage to contribute a strong focus on faith-based approaches to creation, and particularly human engagement with creation, alongside a staggeringly wide-range of expertise and perspectives, which is varied to the point of eclecticism. On the one hand this provides a broad, and fascinating overview of current work in the area, and on the other, maintains a strength of purpose and drive. Not the least benefit of these collections is that they confirm that those of us concerned with these issues are not alone, and that we are contributing to debate on a wide front of discussion.

Delving into these texts you will discover an enormous variety. Although edited and presented from Dr Nellist’s position as an Eastern Orthodox theological expert, the editing has been open and inclusive. Different Christian approaches are explored and elucidated alongside those of other great religious philosophies. In fact, the opening, AIA, chapter of the ‘Integrated Theology’ volume provides a run-down of the views of major religions as a preparation for what is to come, but it is not only the theological views which are varied. In these volumes you will find chapters on theory and strategy, others dealing with specific issues and areas of interest, and yet more dealing with practical action in specific countries and area. These latter including countries like Uganda, Brazil, Australia, and Ukraine. There are chapters which contain substantial references to theological texts, chapters packed with scientific figures and plates, chapters stuffed with references to academic and other works, and more discursive chapters narrating opinions. It is difficult to imagine an approach to these issues which is not catered for, in some form, in these books.

Of course, one of the implications of such an open editing of this subject is that not everything here will resonate with, or please, everyone. The readings are deliberately challenging. The purpose here is to begin and foster debate, to allow us to come together and explore the possibilities with which we are faced, without judgement and in rich variety. These books may confirm and reinforce much that you believe, but equally they will challenge and question your beliefs as well.

To bring all of this together, and to provide such an important and rich opening to exploration of human relations with wider creation, and the importance and significance of faith-based perspectives in doing so, is immensely to Dr Nellist’s credit. However, the danger in doing so is that this could end up as a ‘scatter gun’ approach, peppering the area with diverse thoughts but lacking a central clarity. Dr Nellist is obviously aware of such dangers and provides some mechanisms to ensure that the central purpose and drive of the works is not lost. Notably the two volumes contain three commonalities. Each contains a brief Foreword, written by the Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and co-founder of St Andrew’s Theological College in Sydney. Both also contain an Introduction by the Editor, but most importantly, and significantly, both volumes contain a common Appendix which invites and enables future study and contemplation.

Typical of the nature of the books in their entirety, Dr Nellist makes no bones in the Appendix that they arise from her own Eastern Orthodox perspective, but immediately she invites and challenges us to engage with debate by stating: ‘I give permission for priests to adapt the material as they see fit; all I ask is the professional courtesy of authorship recognition’. The Appendix then provides a number of themes, materials, and questions for study and exploration which can be used in a variety of context, by groups and individuals, to encourage further reflection and study.

In addition, Dr Nellist states the intention to create video support for these themes, the first of which is currently available on the Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals website. In short, Dr Nellist has provided an important contribution to, and encouragement of, debates around faith, humanity, animals, and wider creation. She has done so in a spirit of inclusion and engagement which invites discussion rather than seeking to instruct. Together the two books provide a dazzlingly diverse discussion of this growingly important area, whilst also providing a structure for reflection, contemplation, and growth. As such these works represent a considerable achievement, an invitation to discovery and debate which I, for one, am looking forward to engaging with for some time to come.

Gerald Taylor

The Ark – Spring 2022

Open Letter to AstraZeneca and Glaxosmithkline Urging the use of Non Animal Testing Methods to Further Human Health

3rd February 2023

We, the Animal Interfaith Alliance, a group of faith-based animal advocacy organisations, write to you in your capacity as CEO 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 to be socially and morally accountable to itself, its stakeholders and the public.  

The specific issue we wish to raise is the use of animals in the development and testing of new pharmaceutical products intended for human use. We fully realise that the use of animals, where there is no other available replacement, 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 pharmaceutical industry is best placed to make the paradigm change needed to replace outdated and unreliable animal tests with cost effective human relevant test methods, including human 3D cell culture, organs on chips, pharmacogenomics, and similar 21st century technologies that were previously unavailable (5).

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

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Andre Menache BSc(Hons) BVSc Dip ECAWBM (AWSEL) MRCVS

AIA Chairman, on behalf of the Animal Interfaith Alliance

Dr Richard D. Ryder MA, DCP, PhD (Cantab), AFBPsS, FZS

AIA President 



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As we approach the end of 2022, we thought it was time to review some of the work we have undertaken and having done so, are thankful for the many opportunities God has presented us to share Orthodox teachings on Creation Care with both Orthodox Christians and people from other faiths and no faith.

In 2017 Dr Nellist was given the honour and blessing of the then Archbishop of Thyateira, Gregorios, and Met. Kallistos of Diokleia (Ware) to establish the POCA charity and website. In 2019, the blessing to continue this work was sought and given from the then newly appointed Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain.

Our first major initiative after the establishment of the charity and website was to produce the ‘CREATION CARE: CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY COURSE’. This is FREE and found on the Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals website –

This is a course for use in Christian parishes, youth groups, seminary institutions or for individual study. It may also provide a useful framework for homilies. This course establishes that concern and compassion for animals is not a modern phenomenon, but one found both in the Bible and in the earliest teachings of the Christian Church. It provides an anamnesis of a lesser-known Christian tradition, where all animals are loved and protected by God and that their suffering is against God’s will. It reminds us that in our role as Image, we should strive to reflect the Archetype in our lives. At times, it also highlights the soteriological implications of our abuse and exploitation of God’s non-human animal beings. It reminds us that by causing harm to animals or by our indifference to it, human salvation is in jeopardy. It is written to facilitate Church engagement with the subjects of climate change and animal suffering, which, though separate subjects, are interconnected. This course was originally written for an Orthodox audience.  Our President was invited to speak at His All-Holiness Bartholomew’s Halki Summit 111 (2019) on behalf of the animal creation, who are frequently overlooked in Orthodox discussions. Whilst there she was asked by Met. Seraphim of Zimbabwe and Angola, to write a program on care for animals for his priests. This was then developed into the ‘Creation Care: Christian Responsibility Course’, which can be adapted by other denominations, as its teachings are universal. There are 7/8 Lessons each containing quotes from early and contemporary saints & theologians and end with discussion questions and quotation references for further study. The Lessons are:



Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, public meetings during large parts of 20/21 were unlawful. Instead, numerous animal protection and scientific on-line zoom seminars were attended, and other initiatives were put in motion. We maintained our Facebook and Twitter engagement with the public by posting articles on aspects of creation care and related matters such as climate change on our website.

We continued our collaboration and partnership with the Christian Ethics of Farmed Animal Welfare Research Project, with Met. Kallistos by collating his works from his private library for the Holy Gardens of Patmos library project; with the Animal Interfaith Alliance in the UK, with both Board and Patron representation, and on the Steering Committee dedicated to the ending of animal experimentation; with the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration in the USA as Board member and where our President was an advisor on their ‘The Face of God’ film, which outlines teachings from Orthodoxy on Creation Care and Climate Change.

Met. Kallistos of Diokleia and friend. St John’s Monastery, Patmos.

(Photograph credit – I. Knights /


Another major initiative was to put out a call for chapters on ‘Creation Care and Climate Crisis, Justice and Sustainability’. This resulted in two substantial collections, which feature chapters by specialists with expertise in different disciplines, who wrote from different contexts, cultures, and religions. They came together to write with authority and clarity on various aspects of the climate crisis and care for the natural world. They wrote either from faith-based or secular perspectives but shared a vision and desire to explain why we are in this critical situation, ask difficult questions of us, governments, and civic leaders and explained how we might affect real change. Both were published In October, just before COP 26. Fr John Chryssavgis wrote the Foreword and Met. Kallistos of Diokleia (Ware) wrote the first chapter entitled: ‘An Integrated Theology: Compassion for Animals.’

Climate Crisis and Creation Care: Historical Perspectives, Ecological Integrity and Justice, ISBN 978-1-5275-742-5   Climate Crisis and Creation Care: Historical Perspectives, Ecological Integrity and Justice – Cambridge Scholars Publishing                                  

Climate Crisis and Sustainable Creaturely Care: Integrated Theology, Governance and Justice. ISBN 978-1-5275-7421-2  Climate Crisis and Sustainable Creaturely Care: Integrated Theology, Governance and Justice – Cambridge Scholars Publishing


An invitation for POCA to participate in an intriguing research project and exploration of a contemporary Hexaemeron, was received from Prof. Catherine (Kate) Rigby in her capacity of Professor of Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University and Adjunct Professor at Monash University. Her purpose is to identify and communicate examples of faith-based biodiversity conservation initiatives being undertaken by Christian and /or multi-faith communities and organisations in different parts of the world. Participating in this research provided POCA with the opportunity to share the story of our initiative, alongside Orthodox teachings on Creation Care. It also affords us opportunities for networking with others involved in similar initiatives elsewhere, which we view as opportunities for mission. The book will be published in 2023 and our work will be part of the reflection on the sixth day.


With the blessing of Met. Kallistos, our next initiative was to further develop the POCA charity by including a Theological Advisory Group. After discussion with Met. Kallistos, two senior Orthodox theologians were invited to join POCA, and both accepted. Fr. Dr. John C h r y s s a v g i s is Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, serving as theological advisor to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; the second is Archimandrite Jack Khalil who is Dean of the St John of Damascus Institute of Theology – University of Balamand in Lebanon and Professor of New Testament. This addition to our structure, further enables us to move the subject of animals, their welfare/suffering and place in God’s creation, away from the edges of Orthodox theological discussions and towards a more suitable position in mainstream theology.


In February 2022 our President was invited by Prof. Paula Brugger of the Environmental Justice Observatory at the Federal University of Santa Catanna (UFSC), Brazil, to give a lecture to the students and staff at their annual Summer School about her environmental and animal protection work over the past five decades. She chose as her overarching theme, why theology was an important and often neglected part of animal protection. A video on this talk is available here:         


In March our President was invited to write an Amicus Curiae brief by Steve Wise of the NoN-Human Rights Project on behalf of ‘Happy’ the Elephant. For those of you who do not know their work, see Dr Nellist used three arguments:

.1) Using early Orthodox Christian teachings on the Trinity, she explained why the original use of the word ‘person’ a) should not have been ascribed to humans; b) nor used to distinguish between or separate human beings from non-human beings. She then argued how a modern contextualization of those teachings can inform contemporary discussions and legal decisions. 2) Using the philosophical tool of False Dilemma, she explained why this debate continues to be unresolved. 3) That laws and the science pertaining to this issue have changed over these past 1500 years, thus setting the precedent for further changes in the law on this issue to better reflect the science and social norms of contemporary society. She argued that these main points offered the court the opportunity to amend the law so that it better reflects the contemporary science and social recognition that differences between human beings and non-human beings is a matter of degree, not of kind. She argued that whichever term the court chooses to use – be it ‘person’, ‘being’ or some other word, it should be applied to both human and non-human animal beings. After writing the brief, Dr Nellist invited some of our supporters who are also senior academics to collaborate with her on the final draft and become co-signatories. These were Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis, Deputy Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Volos, Greece; Prof. Eleni Panagiotarakou, Faculty of Philosophy, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; Prof. Ekaterini Tsalampouni, Faculty of Theology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and Dr Razvan Porumb, Vice-Principal, The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge, United Kingdom. The Amici Curiae brief was presented to the Court of Appeals of the State of New York and for the first time, resulted in two significant dissenting opinions.


Also in March, we responded to the tragedy of the Ukrainian people fleeing from war. We had all been touched by refugees who were struggling to bring their animals out of Ukraine. Sometimes their animals were their only possession. Our question regarding quarantine and what was being done to help refugees and their animals coming to the UK, was asked on the BBC news channel. One respondent gave the usual comment – basically ‘people and children first’. The second response was far more considered and was from the BBC Home Affairs correspondent, who stated that he doubted if the government had even considered the question, which he felt was an important issue. He recognized that many if not most would not have the paperwork. We thanked the BBC for airing this question. We also asked people on our FB and Twitter pages to write to their M.Ps. We established a FB Fundraising page and raised £330, which was spent on food for the Sumy Animal Rescue Centre, where we have supporters. Just as importantly our question was taken up Lord Goldsmith on behalf of the government who within days, streamlined the system. Emergency support was put in place for people fleeing Ukraine and entering the UK with their pets, with the Government covering the costs of any necessary stays in quarantine for the pets of those fleeing Ukraine.

Food at the Sumy Shelter bought with the funds from our Facebook Ukrainian Fundraising Appeal


In May our representatives attended an Animal Think Tank conference which explored the use of language and the power of narrative as a force for social change. A key tool of narrative exploration is using corpus linguistics, which analyses public discourse and can help determine the language, frames, metaphors, shared values, and mental models that will most activate people’s support of animal protection issues.


In June, our President was given the honour of presenting at the first conference on “Eco wellbeing: Ethics, Animals and the Environment” at the famous Halki Theological School, on the island of Halki. This was attended by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and many clergy and seminarians. It was organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, together with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, as part of their MA Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law programme, and the Hellenic Pasteur Institute.  A video of this lecture is here –


Also in June, our President was interviewed by Paula Sparks of the Cambridge Centre for Animal Law, for their Talking Animal Law Podcast Series. This will be a first time a theologian has been asked to give opinions on animal protection and law. Again, this is another opportunity for us to witness to others from a completely different profession. This is forthcoming in 2023.  


At the end of June, we were Invited by the Volos Academy to be part of their panel at the European Academy of Religion Conference in Bologna, Italy where our President presented a paper on ‘Creation Care, Christian Responsibility: Practical Proposals for Parish Priests.’  

A video of this talk will be available on our YouTube site when completed.


At the end of June, we were in the Palace of Westminster supporting the work of Eduardo Goncalves (center) and attending the Parliamentary reception for the first reading of the Ban Trophy Hunting Imports Bill and the publication of the All-Party Report on Trophy Hunting.

In the Palace of Westminster (UK Parliament) with Eduardo Goncalves, Founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting and Judith Wilson from Quaker Concern for Animals and Animal Interfaith Alliance. See for more information on this important work.


In August our President attended the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics Summer Conference, which this year was dedicated to discussions and presentation on Animals and Public Policy. We are witnessing a change in attitudes to animals – from the idea that they are tools, machines, commodities, here for our use, to the idea that they are sentient beings who have intrinsic value, dignity, and rights. The Summer School discussed how that change of attitude should be embodied, implemented, and institutionalized in public policy, including legislation, education, business, arts, sciences, literature, and religion. Our President is a Fellow at the Centre and regularly attends and occasionally presents at these conferences.


In September our President attended the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law Conference to hear the latest developments in Animal Law.


POCA’s Annual General Meeting was held this time at midday so that one of our supporters from Australia could attend and speak about the plight of Animals in Australia and her desire to involve the Orthodox Church in meaningful engagement on the subject.


In October, our President and one of our Trustees attended the Animal Aid celebration of the work XCellR8 laboratory’s project to replace the widely discredited LD50 toxicity test, which currently uses over 80,000 animals per year in the EU alone, despite being widely discredited both ethically and scientifically. POCA President Dr Nellist has written on animal experimentation, denouncing it as a sin and contrary to the teachings of Christ and Orthodoxy. We are pleased to announce that in the USA, The FDA Modernization Act has now been approved by both houses of the US congress. This will no longer require animal testing as a legal requirement. From as long ago as 2004, the FDA recognized the shockingly high failure rate, 90-97%, of the animal testing model. It is also recognized both by the FDA and ‘big pharma’ that from the small percentage that are given licenses, many drugs are withdrawn due to safety concerns to human health, which included deaths. See

This puts the US well ahead of the UK in terms of legislation to actively encourage the replacement of outdated and failing animal testing with human based 21st century technology. We shall continue the fight to end this abomination.


Also in October, our President was Interviewed by Dr Lois Sprague, President of The Guibord Center in the USA   They have asked us to produce a short video on our work and our faith for their ‘The Animals, Faith and Creation’ initiative which is focused on the values that different spiritual traditions teach about our responsibility to care for all Creation and to treat it as a sacred gift. See How Different Faiths See Animals and Our Relationship with Them – The Guibord Center


In November one of our representatives attended the Remembrance Service at the Animals in War Memorial in London, on behalf of Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals and the Animal Interfaith Alliance. This was another wonderfully moving service on behalf of the millions of animals who died and are still dying in human conflict.


Also in November, it was back to the Palace of Westminster for the Parliamentary celebration of the passing of the Second Reading of the Ban Trophy Hunting Imports Bill. Here our President met with Dame Jane Goodall, who has already kindly agreed to do a short video for us as she was unable to participate as hoped, on our panel on Creation Care Christian Responsibility at the forthcoming IOTA conference in Volos in January. Dr Nellist also spoke again with Lord Goldsmith who will send through some of his short addresses for the website.


In early December the final interview was undertaken, with Prof Kate Rigby for her forthcoming book on the Hexaemeron, where the work of Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals is discussed in Kate’s reflection of the 6th Day of Creation.


As December closes, the finishing touches are being made to two papers being presented at the POCA initiative Creation Care Christian Responsibility Panel at the International Orthodox Theological Conference in Volos in January.  Dr Christina will give a short dedication to our inaugural Patron and Founder Met. Kallistos of Diokleia, followed by a discussion of his life-long concern for animals and the environment. Her paper is entitled: CREATION CARE: METROPOLITAN KALLISTOS OF DIOKLEIA’S TEACHINGS ON ORTHODOXY, ANIMALS AND NATURE. Fr Simon Nellist, retired Archpriest of Tanzania, and Treasurer of POCA, will give a paper entitled: THE MISSION FIELDS OF COMPASSIONATE ACTIVISM. At the end of the session Dr Nellist will put out a notice asking for people to contact her with information of groups or initiatives that Met. Kallistos was involved in.


As you have seen, these past few years have given us many opportunities to promote the important subject of Creation Care both within and outside of Orthodoxy. We shall continue to ask for guidance from our forever Patron, who we are convinced will help us from his new home with the Fathers and Saints in the Kingdom. We have received numerous emails from Orthodox Christians and others informing us of how our work and the material that we have produced on our website, has helped them in a variety of ways and we are profoundly humbled and grateful to have received each one of them. Your help and support will also be vital to our continued progress.

With love in Christ to you all for a blessed and healthy 2023.

How You Can Help Unwanted Abandoned Pets in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

Sadly, there are many pets that are homeless in the UK and elsewhere in the world. You can help reduce this alarming number by advocating for these defenceless animals, just like Pan-Orthodox Concern for Animals.

Rehome a pet

Rehoming an animal instead of purchasing them from a breeder is one of the key ways you can reduce pet homelessness.

● Visit one of the many pet shelters in your country. There are many different shelters to choose from, so find one in your area or neighbourhood that’s trying to make a difference for animals.


● Get your home ready for your companion animal. This will be by firstly, making sure you are aware of your animal’s specific needs. Hampsters, for example, have different needs to cats and dogs. There are many sites, such as the RSPCA, where information can be found. Apart from making sure you have somewhere suitable for your animal to sleep, ensure you have a harness/leash/collar and tag with your animal’s name and your contact telephone number, plus toys, etc for stimulation of the body and mind. You also need to pet-proof your home to make it a safe by securing your boundary, putting away harmful chemicals, some house plants and chocolates!


● Take time to bond with them by implementing routines they can get used to, such as regular walks, which will help them become housetrained and physically and mentally stimulated. Also, be sure to set aside time in your day for quality bonding with your pet.

Going Further.

Maybe you might want to start a non-profit organisation or a blog on animal protection? If so, there are many sites on the internet that can advise you on how to begin.

Social Media

● Make use of social media to help build a loyal following for your cause. You can upload a PDF to Facebook in some cases if you want to provide detailed information about your organisation in a succinct format.


All Animal Protection groups big and small, are always in need of funding. If you have the resources to donate to organisations that need them, then be sure to contact them right away to help animals that are in desperate need of love and care.

● Look at different animal charities and donate whenever you can. Charities often cover different things (stopping animal abuse, helping rescue animals, etc.), so find one whose mission statement stirs a fire in your heart.

● Another way to help animals in dire situations is by donating items to the animal charity/shelter/sanctuary. In addition to food and supplies, you could also donate items like towels, blankets, and bedding.

It is easier nowadays to advocate for a worthy cause, especially if it involves the welfare of animals because people aren’t afraid to speak up anymore. This is my contribution to this cause.

Mike Nicholson of,

The positions expressed in this essay by one of our supporters are solely the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or the Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals Charity.

Ministry – a brief note

Today I write a brief note about part of our Ministry.

Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals is part of the Green Christian Network, and as such, received this email. Below it is our response, which in turn received a very positive response.

We share in the Ecumenical Patriarch and Met. Kallistos of Diokleia’s vision, for Creation Care ministry at all levels from education in our seminaries to local Green Parishes. This is just one example of how, be it as a group, parish or individual, can assist in this precious Ministry:

‘I am currently writing a thesis on “How can Scripture Engagement be used to promote Creation Care in Evangelical Churches in Jos, Nigeria?”

I work with Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) Nigeria translating the Bible in different languages and encouraging people to engage with Scripture in life changing ways.

We also saw that most of the communities we work with are small scale farmers and wanted to help them connect with Scriptures so we run “Faith and Farming” workshops. In these workshops we discuss farmers and farming in the Bible and Creation Care.

As you can see from my thesis above, my desire is to do lots of advocacy in Churches in the towns in addition with the workshops we run in villages and classes we teach at Bible colleges.

We are taking small steps here even in the midst of deep poverty.’

Dear John,

I am responding as part of the Green Christian network.

I am Dr Christina Nellist and just before COP 26, I produced two books on this very theme.

One of the contributors, Obaji Agbiji, wrote this chapter:

Religious practitioners and Ecological Justice: Engaging ‘Value for Community’ as Lens for Ecological Justice in Africa. This speaks to Africa but to Nigeria in particular.

You will find it in this book Climate Crisis and Sustainable Creaturely Care: Integrated Theology, Governance and Justice, both on Amazon and the publishers -Cambridge Scholars Publishing – website.

I hope this will help you with your great ministry,

Dr Chris Nellist

Hi Dr. Christina,

Your book is so so helpful!

Many thanks.


Feast of the Indiction, September 1st, 2022 † B A R T H O L O M E W

By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church: Grace, Peace and Mercy from the Maker of All Creation, Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ

Most reverend brother Hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,

    As we enter, with God’s blessing, the new ecclesiastical year today, we honor with the Feast of the Indiction the “Day of protecting the natural environment” and offer glory and gratitude to the Creator of all for the “great gift of creation.”

    We proclaim once again with all our heart that the respect for creation and the constant concern for its protection belong to the core of our Orthodox identity as one of its most precious elements. The Church recognizes and teaches that the cause of human alienation from the “very good” creation and one’s fellow human beings is the “alienation from God.” It boldly reminds us that there Is no authentic freedom without the Truth and outside the Truth, which is the power that truly liberates. “Know the truth, and the truth will free you” (John 8.32).

    For over three decades, the Holy Great Church of Christ emphatically and dynamically promotes the eco-friendly message of Orthodoxy through its diverse initiatives. September 1, 1989, will forever signify and symbolize the commencement of a movement that produced much fruit, raised awareness about the spiritual and ethical roots and parameters of the destruction of the natural environment, mobilized individuals and institutions, inspired the rest of the Christian world, highlighted the way of responding to this great challenge – a way that passes firstly through an understanding of its connection with the crisis of human freedom and the need for radical change in mentality and conduct with a view to creation, and secondly through a common and universal action given the global dimensions and tragic consequences of the ecological destruction.

    An invaluable legacy for the future lies in the many important writings on the field of theological ecology, among which the work of the professor and academician, His Eminence Elder Metropolitan John of Pergamon, retain a prominent place. An inexhaustible source of inspiration will also be found in the presentations of the nine water-borne international symposia, which hosted renowned specialists and scientists as well as representatives of the cultural and spiritual worlds. These texts are especially beneficial for environmental learning, which has carved out a significant place in contemporary education. As it has rightly been said: “In the future, an education without ecological orientation will be a parody of education.”

    Sustainable development is a one-way street. It will secure ecological balance in the present and constitute a guarantee for the future, but it has its conditions: ecological economy, changes in agricultural and biomechanical productivity, the production and use of energy, the movement and transportation of goods, new models of consumption, and so on. Unfortunately, good intentions, agreements and proclamations often remain theoretical, merely “big words,” without any impact on action, “superficial injunctions,” as it has been written. Humankind has not learned from the consequences of climate change, the destructive fires, heat waves, and floods, the rapid reduction in biodiversity, the pollution of the atmosphere and seas, the deforestation and social repercussions of the environmental crisis, above all revealed in the mass migration for ecological reasons. Humanity continues to be deluded about the innate capacity of nature to protect itself and overcome human-induced damages. 

     We know, and yet we continue to act as if uninformed, suppressing the truth that with regard to its relationship to the natural environment, our modern technocratic and econo-centered civilization does not comprise progress, since the greatest devastation of the natural environment has taken place in our own time, and age where science and economy prevail. Climate change is an immense destruction caused by human irresponsibility and the impasse of our model of organization in the life of our economy. We only have a future if we understand that the protection of the integrity of creation does not only not comprise a hurdle for economic development, but is the vehicle for real progress.

    This year, the celebration of the Day of the protection of creation are accompanied by the sound of weapons in Ukraine, by the cry of the victims of military violence, the bombardment of cities and infrastructures, the groaning of nature and moaning of refugees. Every war is a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe. The ongoing violence, beyond the thousands of human lives, also destroys the natural environment that it pollutes, forcing nations and peoples to return to ways of securing energy efficiency through means that are unfriendly to the environment. Thus, humanity enters a new vicious cycle of destructive impasses, which confirm the saying that homo sapiens to this day continues to behave simultaneously as homo demens, as imprudent and irrational.

    Brothers in the Lord and blessed children,

    For the Church, the elements of the world – according to a theological formulation – “are not simply utilitarian or useful material for the individual needs of human beings, but they are actions of the Person of the one Creator”. Everything created by God blesses, praises and exalts God to the ages, the heavens declare His glory. This is the message expressed by the concern of the Great Church for the protection of creation. The life of the Church of Christ is a foretaste of all that we expect in the Kingdom of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On our way to the Eschaton, the Holy Church offers to the world the Gospel of grace as its guide and the unswerving certainty that evil, in all its forms, will not have the final word in history.

    In closing, we wish you a blessed and fruitful new ecclesiastical year, and we call upon all of you, through the intercessions of the First-among-the-saints Theotokos Pammakaristos, the life-giving grace and great mercy of the creator and redeemer of all, the pioneer and perfecter of our immaculate faith to whom be the glory and the dominion unto everlasting ages. Amen!

    September 1, 2022

    †Bartholomew of Constantinople
    Fervent supplicant for all before God

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon For the Beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year September 1, 2022

To the clergy, monastics, and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,
Dear beloved children in the Lord,
Today marks the beginning of the new ecclesiastical year and is a day we have, in recent times, set aside to pray for God’s creation, remember our place within it, and look towards its care.
As the scientific community vocally sounds the alarm on the human impact on worldwide ecology, we are increasingly aware of the climate crisis facing us. We are now, in the last few decades, coming to fully understand the power humanity has to harm the natural world.
We know from the Scriptures that God has given mankind dominion “over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gen. 1:28). Now it seems that this dominion, misdirected, has been extended so that we also have a measure of control to shape even the climate on God’s earth on which we live. The worldwide consensus grows day by day that mankind has misused its stewardship of the earth and that the consequences of such mismanagement are increasingly more serious.
We must take these alarms seriously. The climate crisis is predicted to drastically harm the lives of future generations, especially in the third world, where many regions are expected to become inhospitable, leading to famine. Our Lord tells us that all the Law and the Prophets depend on the two great commandments: the love of God and the love of our neighbor (cf. Matt. 22:38-40). Thus, care for our climate and ecosystem is not merely a material problem, it is also a spiritual problem. It is of critical concern to face this spiritual challenge presented by the climate crisis.
Likewise, it is spiritually harmful to thoughtlessly consume the natural world around us; it is an abuse of God’s gift. As the Psalmist declares, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps 23:1). This world is God’s creation declared to be good (cf. Gen. 1). We are merely stewards, never owners, and we have a responsibility to exercise moderation, to care for the earth, and to do what is in our power to stop its exploitation and destruction.

This means that, even if there were no environmental alarms being sounded, our calling to care for the environment remains. We remember that at the creation of the world, “the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there He put the man whom He had formed … and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it” (Gen. 2:8, 15). It was in this garden that Adam and Eve, the first human beings, received their vocations as caretakers of paradise.
Thus, care for the natural world, the climate, and ecosystem is for us a quiet echo of the first calling of man given by our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ before we wore “garments of skin” (Gen. 3:21) and the pollution of sin spread. It is a reminder of our pilgrimage towards our true home in the Kingdom of God, the heavenly Eden, where there is “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit… and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:1-2).
I encourage all to take up this ancient vocation of man and begin by individually finding practical ways to become good stewards of the world in which we find ourselves. Aspire to “live quietly” as the Apostle Paul instructs (cf. 1 Thess. 4:11) and reject the ravenous consumerism which devours our hearts as it devours everything else. Reduce your carbon footprint and avoid waste whenever possible. Plant trees and gardens, to not only help the environment but to remind you that during our time on earth we are “aliens and exiles” (1 Pet. 2:11) traveling towards paradise and the gardens of the age to come.
I urge our institutions, dioceses, monasteries, and parishes: take the lead in your respective areas, whether organizing large efforts to become more ecologically responsible, reducing carbon footprints, or taking climate concerns into account when planning. From diocesan initiatives to beautifying parish properties and gardens to the prayer of individuals at home, we all have our vocations in caring for the world which God has given us.
It is my sincere hope that in coming years and decades the Orthodox Church in America will become a leader in North America of good ecological stewardship; and that, for the outside world, we will be held up as examples of responsible, humble living, as befits followers of the gospel.
Let us always give thanks to Him Who “bestowest upon us earthly good things” and “Who hast given us a pledge of the promised kingdom through the good things already bestowed upon us” (Sixth Prayer of Vespers). May God bless our efforts as we strive to become ever better stewards of His many gifts.

I remain sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

P.O. Box 675 Syosset, New York, 11791
516-922-0550 – –

New legal developments to stop harmful factory farming

Factory farming is deadly — fuelling future pandemics and the climate crisis. This morning, Humane Being, a non-profit running the “Scrap Factory Farming” campaign, filed a new case appealing to the European Court of Human Rights to hold the UK Government accountable for failing to protect people from the life-threatening risks posed by factory farms.
The group claims that the Government’s support of factory farming is risking millions of deaths from the climate crisis, future pandemics and antibiotic resistance. The campaign’s legal team, headed by renowned human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC, says that the Government is well aware of these risks and is failing to both inform and protect the public.
Lorna Hackett, Head of Legal Practice at Hackett & Dabbs, which is bringing the challenge, says:
‘This world-first case joins a growing list of cases before the ECHR seeking to address the climate crisis, but is unique in also addressing pandemic and antibiotic resistance risks. Unlike cases already before the court from France, Switzerland and Portugal, our challenge to the UK
Government specifically identifies the climate risks posed by runaway agricultural methane
emissions and deforestation. Factory farming at current levels is simply not compatible with the
Government’s emission reduction commitments, including the Global Methane Pledge.’

Speaking to the risks of a future pandemic posed by factory farming, Dr. Alice Brough, a UK pig
veterinarian and co-claimant to the legal challenge, said:
‘Intensive farms create the perfect breeding ground for disease, including those with human
pandemic potential, with thousands of stressed animals crammed into filthy environments. Due
to the conditions and common practices, antibiotics are often required in excess on these farms, furthering the risk to humans. Only recently scientists found superbugs in UK meat.
Since October 2021 there have been 116 UK outbreaks of avian influenza, an historically and
currently pertinent zoonosis — almost a 400% increase on the 2020-21 season.
The vast feed requirements for intensively farmed animals lead to devastating deforestation in
other parts of the world, such as South America, and contribute significantly to the climate crisis. Every part of this practice is a ticking time bomb for our species.’

Dr. Shireen Kassam, a medical consultant supporting the campaign, added:
‘We are at risk of a pandemic far worse than Covid-19. The Government has plans for dealing with 750,000 deaths from a flu pandemic which history and science show is most likely to come from a commercial animal farm.
Farm use of antibiotics contributes to antimicrobial resistance which is already killing 1.27
million people globally each year. In 2020 the UK Government was reporting 178 new antibiotic
resistant infections every day in England alone.
Heat related deaths in the UK currently number 4000 and will only get worse due to climate’
change, as we see more extreme weather like the heatwave last week.’

The campaign’s lawyers have asked for their application to be given priority assessment by the court.
Press contact: For more information, contact Dr Alice Brough, 07904 671823, Jane Tredgett (Founder of Humane Being) 07710 317422, David Finney (instigator of the idea of the legal challenge) 07521 991645, Robert Gordon (Humane Being spokesperson) 07422 651776 or Lorna Hackett, Barrister 07515359234.

  1. Global Methane Pledge
  2. Superbug in UK meat (The Guardian)
  3. UK avian flu data collated from Government data 23 May 2022 – Updated Outbreak Assessment #26 (outbreaks 1 to 112, 66 of which in “commercial premises” with
    turkeys, hens, broiler chickens, ducks = 59%) 20 Jun 2022 – Updated Outbreak Assessment #28 (outbreaks 79 to 116)
  4. 1.27 million deaths per year from antibiotic resistance (The Lancet)
  5. 178 new antibiotic infections per day in England (The UK Government)
  6. 4000 heat wave deaths – HM Government. “UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017”. January 2017. pp. 12-13 Met Office says “The chances of seeing 40°C days in the UK could be as much as 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a natural climate unaffected by human influence” Most of the science is summarised in our research booklet
    • For information on the connection of antibiotic resistance to factory farming see pages 117 – 137
    • For information on deforestation / factory farm feed see pages 153- 157, 166 and 167
    • For information on Government predictions re an influenza pandemic see pages 17 – 23
    • For pandemics in history see pages 28 -36
    • For a study on the origins of avian flu outbreaks (56% from commercial farms) see page 38
    Scrap Factory Farming / Humane Being
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    Other relevant legal cases
    • Danish Crown case for greenwashing their products
    • Major Livestock company in legal battle over price fixing
    • Legal battle over advertising claims of US livestock company Hormel Foods
    • Tesco threatened with Legal Action over poultry pollution in the River Wye
    • Chicken farmers taking class action against Major poultry processor for poor working conditions
    • Food campaigners taking legal action against the government for failing to support a transition to reduce meat and dairy consumption

All-Party Parliamentary Report on Trophy Hunting

This is the link to the full report.

It is a large and very well researched document, which will leave you wondering how on earth such a system can still exist in the 21st century. Please share widely, and please include your MP.