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.

Preparation

● 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!

Bonding

● 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.

Donate

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 dogfriends.co,

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.

John

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,
+TIKHON
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

P.O. Box 675 Syosset, New York, 11791
516-922-0550 – metropolitan@oca.org – www.oca.org

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 https://78460747.flowpaper.com/FactoryFarmingisharminganimalspeopleandtheplanet/
    • 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
    For more information about Humane Being and to follow us, please visit
    • W: www.humanebeing.org.uk www.scrapfactoryfarming.org
    • F : www.facebook.com/HumaneBeing2019 https://www.facebook.com/ScrapFactoryFarming
    • T: www.twitter.com/ScrapFactFarm I: www.instagram.com/scrapfactoryfarming
    This team of volunteers are raising funds for their legal fees – contributions can be made
    at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/scrapfactoryfarming/ or
    or at https://www.scrapfactoryfarming.org/donate/

    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.

https://appgtrophyhunting.files.wordpress.com/2022/07/final-pdf-report-britain-trophy-hunting-the-case-for-a-ban-e28093-a-report-of-the-all-party-parliamentary-group-on-banning-trophy-hunting-29-june-2022-1.pdf

European Academy of Religion: Religion and Diversity

Volos panel on “Crossing boundaries in eco-theological formation: Embracing plurality and God’s creation, transforming community”, Speakers included Dr. Christina Nellist (Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics), Dr. Ionut Biliuta (Romanian Academy), and Rev. Dr. Amphilochios Miltos (Volos Academy for Theological Studies, in absentia).

European Academy of Religion
Conference Completion
June 20-23,
Bologna, Italy

 The annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion (EuARe) took place this year in Bologna, with a physical presence, between June 20 and 23. A major event for scholars working on Religious Studies and Theology, the Conference of EuARe brought together about 800 participants from all over the world, creating an interesting inter-religious and interdisciplinary dialogue. This year’s Conference was organized by the Fondanzione per le Scienze Religiose (Fscire) of Bologna and the general topic was “Religion and Diversity”.
Volos Academy participated with three panels, while associates of the Volos Academy presented papers in seven more sessions. In detail:
1. On Monday, June 20, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis (Deputy Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies; Lecturer, Hellenic Open University) participated in the panel “George Florovsky’s Neo-Patristic Synthesis and the contemporary Catholic turn to contextual Catholic theology”, organized by Dr. Thomas Cattoi (Jesuit School of Theology-Santa Clara University – Graduate Theological Union) and chaired by Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk (St Thomas University, Minneapolis, USA). The panel explored the points of contact between the neo-patristic vision of Georges Florovsky and the contemporary Catholic turn to contextual theology, facing issues like the dichotomy between “the wisdom of the Fathers” and contemporary theological reflection, or Catholicism’s growing appreciation of theological inculturation, as well as the encounter between Florovsky and his Roman Catholic counterpart, Jean Daniélou with regards to the reception of patristic tradition. Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis spoke on “The Fathers as a means or as a normative criterion of doing Orthodox theology? Florovsky in dialogue with Nouvelle Théologie on the nature of theology”.

 2. The same day, Mr. Georgios Vlantis (Director of the Council of Christian Churches-ACK in Bavaria; Research Associate of Volos Academy) participated in the panel “Minority as a key perspective on religious-Christian diversity in Europe: How are religious life and church structured and interpreted in sociological minority settings?”, chaired by Dr. Matthias Ehmann (Theological Supreme School of Ewersbach). The panel addressed the issue of the coexistence of majority and minority churches in different countries in Europe, strongly affected by the migrating movements of the 20th century and the increased secularization of European countries. Georgios Vlantis spoke on “Evangelization or Diaspora? Eastern Orthodox Minorities in the West”, focusing on the challenges connected with the Orthodox presence in Germany.
3. On Tuesday, June 21, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis (Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Member of the Executive Committee of the EuAre, Research Associate of the Universities KU Leuven and Münster) participated in the panel “Deification East and West: New Approaches”, chaired by Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk, along with speakers such as Dr. Norman Russell (St. Stephen’s House, University of Oxford), Dr. Frederick Aquino (Abilene Christian University) and Dr. Mark McInroy (University of St. Thomas). The panel attempted a comprehensive treatment of deification to date with methodological and hermeneutical precision and clear articulation of points of convergence and difference or even disagreement on the constitutive elements of deification in different authors and traditions and, finally, its foundational significance for future ecumenical dialogue. Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis spoke on “Deification in Contemporary Greek Orthodox Authors”

4. The same day, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, along with Katerina Pekridou (Conference of European churches, CEC), Prof. Aristotle Papanikolaou (Fordham University, NY), Prof. Kristina Stoeckl (Universität Innsbruck), and Rev. Dr. Cyril Hovorun (Stockholm School of Theology) participated in the panel “Theologies and Practices of Religious Pluralism: Christian perspectives – Session on Orthodoxy”, chaired by Dr. José Casanova (Georgetown University). This panel was part of a larger project which investigates current debates and issues on pluralism within and across religious traditions and the way some of these debates are reshaping the status of religion in different public spaces, in the light of recent events such as the Ecumenical movement(s) and the Second Vatican Council, which initiated shifts in thinking about religious diversity among Christians as well as the regime of truth of other religious traditions. Pantelis Kalaitzidis spoke on “Theological Pluralism and Academic Freedom in Orthodox Theology”


5. The same day, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis chaired a panel on “Crossing boundaries in eco-theological formation: Embracing plurality and God’s creation, transforming community”, Speakers included Dr. Christina Nellist (Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics), Dr. Ionut Biliuta (Romanian Academy), and Rev. Dr. Amphilochios Miltos (Volos Academy for Theological Studies, in absentia). The session focused on the human-induced climate crisis and the relationship of animal rights with climate crisis, and it demonstrated examples of good practices from various contexts and suggest possible eco-theological initiatives, addressing the ongoing climate crisis (e.g. Green parishes), highlighting the need of ethical principles to guide both the continuation of human activity and economic development.


6. The same day, Dr. Nikos Kouremenos participated in the panel “The Creed Atlas”, chaired by Dr. Antonio Gerace of Fscire. The panel studied the translations of the Creed in the Early Modern Era, through the analysis of primary sources such as catechisms and manual of doctrines, with specialists in different languages, also exploring the new opportunities that digital tools have introduced while researching on digitized primary sources, thus improving our awareness of the semantic nuances occurring while defining the theological foundation of the faith. Nikos Kouremenos spoke on “The Apostolic Creed in the Greek Translations of the Luther‘ s Small Catechism: Preliminary remarks”.

 7. On Wednesday, June 22, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis chaired and spoke in the panel on “The Declaration of Orthodox Theologians on the Russian World”. The Declaration, published on March 13th, rebuked the argument of the existence of a “Russian World” which, in addition to Russia, includes the states of Belarus and Ukraine but also of Moldova and Kazakhstan, and the discussion in the panel focused on the evolution of the idea of Russian World through time, its acceptance and promotion by the various social strata in Russia, but also by conservative and right-wing movements all over the world. Participants in the panel included Dr. José Casanova (Georgetown University), Rev. Dr. Cyril Hovorun (Stockholm School of Theology), Annamária Amik (independent journalist and translator, Romania), and Dr. Kristina Stoeckl (Universität Innsbruck, Austria).
8. The same day, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis joined the panel on “The diversity of hermeneutical approaches: The Future of Scripture and Theology”, chaired by Dr. Elisabeth Maikranz (Universität Heidelberg) and Dr. Roger Revell (University of Oxford), which addressed a wide range of hermeneutical challenges facing contemporary biblical interpretation and theology. From the outset, theology has stemmed from such hermeneutical pursuits. Even Scripture itself can be understood as a collection of hermeneutical attempts to understand the actions of God and humans’ experiences of God. The multivarious ways of practicing hermeneutics provide an excellent opportunity to explore new ideas and learn how to bring the past into new ways of speaking. Dr. Asproulis spoke in the session on “The Future of Scripture and Theology”.

 9. The same day, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis participated in the session of the RESILIENCE Consortium “RESILIENCE meets the community”. This panel was moderated by Dr. Karla Boersma. RESILIENCE, the Research Infrastructure in Religious Studies, has reached the next phase. This means that the consortium continues developing the RI, addressing both the demand of knowledge about religions and of technical tools enhancing that demand, but also making its services available, like Transnational Access Scholarships (TNA), providing direct, fast, and effective access to collections, guided by experts, and the ReIReSearch database, where is available for disparate digital resources and databases related to Religious Studies in a unified and standardized way.
10. Finally, on Thursday, June 23, Mr. Georgios Vlantis chaired the panel “‘For the Life of the World’: The Document of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church”. This document was published in early 2020, aiming to offer a strong theological impulse to the discussion on Orthodox social ethics, being a fruit of the intensive collaboration of a great network of Orthodox theologians from various contexts and approved by the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The panel reflected on the theological contributions of the document and also on its inter-orthodox and ecumenical reception. Mr. Vlantis introduced the document commenting on “Conciliar processes and academic freedom”. Speakers included also Dr. Dimitrios Keramidas (Pontificia Università “San Tommaso d’Aquino”, Angelicum), Rev. Dr. Dietmar Shon OP (Eastern Church Institute, Regensburg), and Inga Leonova (editor-in-chief, “The Wheel” journal).
In addition to the Conference sessions, EuARe had the annual meeting of its General Assembly, which held elections of the new Executive committee. Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Director of the Volos Academy, was re-elected as a member of the Executive Committee for its next four years term. 

 More photos on the Volos Academy Website

What has the US Gun/Hunting Lobby to do with British Politics?

US hunting lobby spent £1m on fight to delay UK trophy import ban

UK government put under ‘considerable pressure’, says chair of all-party parliamentary group on banning trophy hunting

A pair of young male lions sit in a bush at the Ol Kinyei conservancy in Maasai Mara, Kenya.
Lion, elephant and rhino populations have increased in Kenya, where trophy hunting is banned. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

Helena Horton Environment reporter of the Guardian newspaper confirms what we already knew Wed 29 Jun 2022 06.00 BST

The US hunting lobby has spent £1m putting pressure on the government to delay the trophy import ban, a new report by MPs has found.

Boris Johnson promised to ban the imports of these trophies three years ago, but the legislation has still not gone through parliament. Because of the delay, the Conservative MP and animal welfare campaigner Henry Smith has put forward his own private member’s bill to ban imports of hunting trophies.

A new report from the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on banning trophy hunting has detailed the lobbying efforts of international hunting groups.

The report found that the US-based hunting lobby group Safari Club International (SCI) spent £1m on a campaign to change the minds of MPs and the British public about a ban on imports of endangered species’ body parts.

SCI is the world’s biggest trophy hunting group. It awards prizes to its members for killing large numbers of endangered animals. Founded in the 1970s, it is one of the biggest corporate donors to politicians’ campaigns in the US, and calls itself “the leading defender of the freedom to hunt”.

The APPG report found the SCI funded a Facebook page called Let Africa Live, which posted claims such as: “The UK is about to destroy local economies in Africa.” Although the page insinuated it was created by local groups in African countries, an investigation found it was funded by SCI from a pot of money called the Hunter Legacy 100 Fund. The campaign eventually had its page shut down by Facebook, whose head of security said: “The people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination.”

The Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale, chair of the APPG, said fierce lobbying had alerted the government that this could be a “contentious” issue.

He added: “The government, if something is contentious, always pleads for more time, but we need to get on with it. The US gun lobby has been lobbying like mad … Safari Club International has put a considerable amount of pressure on the government.

“I have my own calls with the prime minister. I think he is broadly committed to putting this legislation through, but it needs to be done without worrying about this lobbying.”

Earlier this year there was a fierce row in the Conservative party, with ministers saying Johnson was close to scrapping the ban after campaigning from the shooting and hunting lobby. At the time, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation welcomed the news, saying a ban would damage conservation. Supporters of trophy hunting say that funds raised by the practice are needed to fund conservation efforts and support local economies.

The APPG report says that lion, elephant and rhino numbers have increased in Kenya, where trophy hunting is banned, while lion numbers also recovered strongly in Zambia and Zimbabwe after temporary trophy hunting bans.

The primate expert Jane Goodall told the APPG: “Trophy hunters kill for pleasure. They destroy animals for bragging rights, to demonstrate their supposed fearlessness and courage. The hunting lobby will work hard to preserve the status quo. If we want to maintain our reputation as an animal-loving nation, all hunting trophies should be banned. Time is of the essence. Many of the species killed by trophy hunters are close to extinction.”

A Defra spokesperson said: “We are committed to banning the import of hunting trophies from thousands of endangered and threatened species. This ban will be among the strongest in the world, leading the way in protecting endangered animals. And we welcome the private member’s bill, led by Henry Smith MP.”

An SCI spokesperson said the deleted Facebook page was made by a contractor, not by club management. They said: “The truth is that in a misguided effort, and unbeknownst to SCI, a sub-contracted vendor took unauthorised action by using falsified social media accounts. While it is regrettable that they betrayed the trust of the hunting community by unnecessarily resorting to questionable tactics, the information the vendor conveyed regarding hunting and conservation is verifiably true and is made no less relevant by unsound methods of distribution.”

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

George P. Nassos

Let’s Benefit From Nature Rather Than Destroying It

Have you ever wondered what the earth was like before humans inhabited it and started to change it? The earth consisted of trees, flowers, fruits, vegetables, birds, animals, soil, water and fish. The trees produce thousands of blossoms in order to bear fruits. The blossoms will eventually fall to the ground and enrich the soil. The birds can eat the fruit and the seeds fall to the ground to produce more trees. Animals eat the plants and other smaller animals, and when they die they become food for another animal or deteriorate and fertilize the soil. Basically, God designed nature to sustain itself without producing any waste. It is a great precedent of the circular economy that we are trying to emulate.

There are two great books about this phenomena. One is “Cradle to Cradle” by Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart where they describe how everything that is taken from the earth should be returned to the earth, thus the title of the book. Another classic is “Biomimicry” by Janine Benyus where she presents biological concepts that are available to us for adoption. Basically the book is about learning from nature and how to adopt these sciences for a better environment.

What are some ways we can benefit from nature? We are already taking advantage of the sun to generate solar energy but it has really taken off only in the last two decades even though it has been available for over 60 years. The photovoltaic cell was discovered accidentally by Bell Labs around 1954, but I recall seeing solar water heating on a home in Greece 10 years later. The great impetus, however, has been primarily due to the huge decrease in the cost of solar panels such as the period from 1980 to 2012 when the cost of panels decreased 97%. Due to the current problem with supply chains, the cost may increase somewhat. In any event, we should continue taking advantage of this free fuel that will help save the environment.

Geothermal is another excellent source of energy for heating and cooling. In any geographical area of the earth, the temperature of the subsurface, say 8 to 10 feet down, is relatively constant all year long. If you are in an area where this temperature is 55°F., pipes can be inserted in the ground to this level through which air can be passed and cooled to this temperature in the summer. This cooler air can then be used in place of an air-conditioner to cool your home. In the winter, the same system can be used to provide 55°F. air for the heating furnace. The cold outside air would be preheated before passing through the furnace. This would make the heating system much more efficient rather than heating outside air at a much lower temperature.

A major cost of this system depends on the land area available for inserting the pipes below the ground. If the property is sufficiently large, the pipes can be installed horizontally at the 10 foot depth. If the property is too small, then the pipes would have to be installed vertically at a depth much below the 10 feet so the processed air can be sufficiently cooled or heated.

Another natural science that has not been used very much for producing energy is the common tidal wave. This is a shallow water wave caused by the gravitational interactions between the sun, moon and earth. In areas where there is a significant tidal range, which is the difference between high tide and low tide, there are opportunities to generate electricity. This form of renewable energy is still very new with no tidal power plants operating in the U.S. The first one was located in La Rance, France while the largest in the world is in South Korea. Some of the negatives for this technology to move forward include legal issues about the land ownership, improving the generator technology, and improving the economics. In any event, this is another example of using nature rather than degrading it.

Geothermal and tidal wave energy are two nature-sourced examples that would probably be used by developed countries. What can developing countries do to make use of nature? They can adopt some of the systems being used by Gaviotas, a small village in Colombia that was created about 50 years ago. To control the amount of water used for agricultural plants, they made use of a clay-like soil. The watering tube was inserted through a porous shell containing the clay. If there was sufficient water, it would expand the clay which would pinch close the watering tube. The village also built a watering tank for the cattle that was surrounded by a sloping cement floor. As cattle were brought to drink, their cow pies slid down the floor to a gutter. This cattle manure was subsequently converted to compost, and the released methane was captured to fuel stove burners at their hospital.

The engineers in Gaviotas also developed a children’s seesaw that would drive a water pump. Another idea was for drying hospital linens after they were washed. To dry them rapidly because of a small supply, they built a convex parabola out of clear plastic. This would concentrate the sun’s rays inside a small building which became similar to a greenhouse with a temperature of 130°F., basically creating a solar dryer. This small village can be an inspiration to many other villages in the developing countries.

With a combination of a population explosion of human mankind along with greed, we have found many ways to destroy the planet earth that was provided to us. We now must continue to develop ways that we can protect the earth while providing the needs of all living beings. Expanding our understanding and research of biomimicry may be a great way to help improve our environment.

FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD TOWARD A SOCIAL ETHOS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

At the start of 2022, it seems appropriate to remind us all of the Church’s position on the sacredness of God’s creation and of our moral duties as Image of God, to care for and facilitate its flourishing. I have selected four sections from the Church’s Social Ethos document, which remind us not only that any form of abuse of Gods creation is a sin but also, that we are to extend our love and compassion to God’s other animals, for they too will be in the restored Kingdom of God. Bold type is used for emphasis. The full document is presented on the main menu.

§75 The Church understands that this world, as God’s creation, is a sacred mystery whose depths reach down into the eternal counsels of its maker; and this in and of itself precludes any of the arrogance of mastery on the part of human beings. Indeed, exploitation of the world’s resources should always be recognized as an expression of Adam’s “original sin” rather than as a proper way of receiving God’s wonderful gift in creation. Such exploitation is the result of selfishness and greed, which arise from humanity’s alienation from God, and from humanity’s consequent loss of a rightly ordered relationship with the rest of nature. Thus, as we have repeatedly stressed, every act of exploitation, pollution, and misuse of God’s creation must be recognized as sin. The Apostle Paul describes creation as “groaning in pain along with us from the beginning till now” (Romans 8:22), while “awaiting with eager longing” (Romans 8:19) “the glorious liberation by the children of God” (Romans 8:21). The effects of sin and of our alienation from God are not only personal and social, but also ecological and even cosmic. Hence, our ecological crisis must be seen not merely as an ethical dilemma; it is an ontological and theological issue that demands a radical change of mind and a new way of being. And this must entail altering our habits not only as individuals, but as a species. For instance, our often heedless consumption of natural resources and our wanton use of fossil fuels have induced increasingly catastrophic processes of climate change and global warming. Therefore, our pursuit of alternative sources of energy and our efforts to reduce our impact on the planet as much as possible are now necessary expressions of our vocation to transfigure the world.

§76 None of us exists in isolation from the whole of humanity, or from the totality of creation. We are dependent creatures, creatures ever in communion, and hence we are also morally responsible not only for ourselves or for those whom we immediately influence or affect, but for the whole of the created order—the whole city of the cosmos, so to speak. In our own time, especially, we must understand that serving our neighbor and preserving the natural environment are intimately and inseparably connected. There is a close and indissoluble bond between our care of creation and our service to the body of Christ, just as there is between the economic conditions of the poor and the ecological conditions of the planet. Scientists tell us that those most egregiously harmed by the current ecological crisis will continue to be those who have the least. This means that the issue of climate change is also an issue of social welfare and social justice. The Church calls, therefore, upon the governments of the world to seek ways of advancing the environmental sciences, through education and state subventions for research, and to be willing to fund technologies that might serve to reverse the dire effects of carbon emissions, pollution, and all forms of environmental degradation.

§77 We must also recall, moreover, that human beings are part of the intricate and delicate web of creation, and that their welfare cannot be isolated from the welfare of the whole natural world. As St. Maximus the Confessor argued, in Christ all the dimensions of humanity’s alienation from its proper nature are overcome, including its alienation from the rest of the physical cosmos; and Christ came in part to restore to material creation its original nature as God’s earthly paradise.[59] Our reconciliation with God, therefore, must necessarily express itself also in our reconciliation with nature, including our reconciliation with animals. It is no coincidence that the creation narrative of Genesis describes the making of animal life and the making of humanity as occurring on the same day (Genesis 1:24–31). Nor should it be forgotten that, according to the story of the Great Flood, Noah’s covenant with God encompasses the animals in the ark and all their descendants, in perpetuity (Genesis 9:9–11). The unique grandeur of humanity in this world, the image of God within each person, is also a unique responsibility and ministry, a priesthood in service to the whole of creation in its anxious longing for God’s glory. Humanity shares the earth with all other living things, but singularly among living creatures possesses the ability and authority to care for it (or, sadly, to destroy it). The animals that fill the world are testament to the bounty of God’s creative love, its variety and richness; and all the beasts of the natural order are enfolded in God’s love; not even a single sparrow falls without God seeing (Matthew 10:29). Moreover, animals by their very innocence remind us of the paradise that human sin has squandered, and their capacity for blameless suffering reminds us of the cosmic cataclysm induced by humanity’s alienation from God. We must recall also that all the promises of scripture regarding the age that is to come concern not merely the spiritual destiny of humanity, but the future of a redeemed cosmos, in which plant and animal life are plentifully present, renewed in a condition of cosmic harmony.

§78 Thus, in the lives of the saints, there are numerous stories about wild beasts, of the kind that would normally be horrifying or hostile to human beings, drawn to the kindness of holy men and women. In the seventh century, Abba Isaac of Nineveh defined a merciful heart as “a heart burning for the sake of the entire creation, for people, for birds, for animals . . . and for every created thing.”[60] This is a consistent theme in the witness of the saints. St. Gerasimos healed a wounded lion near the Jordan River; St. Hubertus, having received a vision of Christ while hunting deer, proclaimed an ethic of conservation for hunters; St. Columbanus befriended wolves, bears, birds, and rabbits; St. Sergius tamed a wild bear; St. Seraphim of Sarov fed the wild animals; St. Mary of Egypt may well have befriended the lion that guarded her remains; St. Innocent healed a wounded eagle; St. Melangell was known for her protection of wild rabbits and the taming of their predators; in the modern period, St. Paisios lived in harmony with snakes. And not only animals, but plants as well, must be objects of our love. St. Kosmas the Aetolian preached that “people will remain poor, because they have no love for trees”[61] and St. Amphilochios of Patmos asked, “Do you know that God gave us one more commandment that is not recorded in scripture? It is the commandment to love the trees.” The ascetic ethos and the Eucharistic spirit of the Orthodox Church perfectly coincide in this great sacramental vision of creation, which discerns the traces of God’s presence “everywhere present and filling all things” (Prayer to the Holy Spirit) even in a world still as yet languishing in bondage to sin and death. It is a vision, moreover, that perceives human beings as bound to all of creation, as well as one that encourages them to rejoice in the goodness and beauty of the whole world. This ethos and this spirit together remind us that gratitude and wonder, hope and joy, are our only appropriate—indeed, our truly creative and fruitful—attitude in the face of the ecological crisis now confronting the planet, because they alone can give us the willingness and the resolve to serve the good of creation as unremittingly as we must, out of love for it and its creator.

Ecumenical Patriarch: Science is a Priceless Gift; Lambasts Irresponsible Voices in 2021 Christmas Message to Faithful

“Brother concelebrants and blessed children,

Having once again arrived at the splendid feast of the Nativity in the flesh of our Savior Christ, who visited us from the heights, we glorify with psalms and hymns His all-heavenly name. The Incarnation of the pre-eternal Word of God is “the crowning of our salvation,” the “eternal mystery” of divine-human communion that transcends all reason. As St. Maximus the Confessor says so eloquently, “as a loving God, He truly became human assuming the essence of humankind, although the manner in which He became human will always remain ineffable; He became human in a manner that transcends humanity.”

The divine Incarnation, along with the manifestation of the truth about God also reveals the truth and ultimate destination of man, our deification by grace. St. Nicholas Cabasilas proclaims so theologically that Christ “is the first and only One to show us the true and perfect man.”

Since that time, anyone who honors God must also honor man, and whoever undermines man also dishonors God, who assumed our nature. In Christ, speaking theologically about God we speak at the same time about man. The incarnate Divine Economy definitively abolishes the image of God as tyrannical, punitive, and adversary to man. Christ is everywhere, always and in all things the denial of the denial of man and the defender of human freedom. The life of the Church, as the flesh assumed by the incarnate Son and Word of God, represents, expresses and serves this all-saving mystery of divine-humanity.

With this “other fashioning” of man and renewal of all creation in Christ as its banner, the Church today offers the good witness before every development that threatens the sacredness of the human person and the integrity of creation. It lives and preaches the truth of authentic spiritual life and the culture of love and solidarity. Offering testimony “about the hope that lies within us” (1 Pet 3.15), the Church does not in any way regard contemporary civilization as another sinful Nineveh by invoking like Jonah the divine wrath on it and its abolition, but rather the Church struggles for the culture’s transformation in Christ. In our age we need pastoral imagination, dialogue and not argumentation, participation and not abstention, specific deeds and not abstract theory, creative reception and not general rejection. All these do not function at the expense of our spirituality and liturgical life, but reveal the inviolable unity of what we call the “vertical” and “horizontal” dimensions of the Church’s presence and witness. Faithfulness to the tradition of the Church is not entrapment to the past, but employment of the experience of the past in a creative way for the present.

In this past year, too, the pandemic of the Covid-19 coronavirus has troubled humankind. We give glory to the God of mercy, who strengthened the specialists and scientists to develop effective vaccines and other medications in order to confront this crisis, and we encourage all faithful who have yet to be vaccinated to do so and everyone to adhere to the protective measures by the health authorities. Science, to the extent that operates as a minister of man, is a priceless gift by God. We must gratefully accept this gift and not be misled by irresponsible voices of ignorant and self-proclaimed as representatives of God and of the authentic faith “spiritual advisors,” who, nevertheless, lamentably invalidate themselves through the absence of love for their brethren, whose lives they expose to grave danger.

Most honorable brothers and dearly beloved children,

With unshakable conviction that the life of each of us and the journey of all humanity is directed by the God of wisdom and love, we look forward to a happy 2022, which despite external factors and developments will be for everyone a year of salvation, inasmuch as during its course as well, the movement of history is guided by Christ, who loves mankind and cares for all things, “who desires that all people will be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.” (1 Tm 2.4)
With God’s will, during the upcoming Holy and Great Week, we shall hold the service of the Blessing of the Holy Chrism in our venerable Center. We regard it as a uniquely divine gift to our Modesty that we shall be deemed worthy to preside over this festive and moving rite for the fourth time in our humble Patriarchal ministry. Glory to God for all things!

With these sentiments, respectfully worshiping the child Jesus born in Bethlehem, we orient our thought to our Christian brothers there and we pray for the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of all those residing in the Holy Land.

In this spirit, we wish to all of you, those near and afar, a blessed Twelvetide, as well as a healthy, fruitful in good deeds and filled with divine gifts new year in the Lord’s favor, to Whom belong the glory and might to the endless ages. Amen.

Christmas 2021

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU

A great man, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, died this morning. Back in the early nineties, I had the immense pleasure of accepting an invitation from Prof. Rev. Andrew Linzey to hear the Archbishop speak. A tiny man in stature yet dwarfing all of us in that auditorium in his compassion and love for humanity. Essentially his message was this – ‘they took everything from us, but they could not take away our bibles and that was our greatest weapon.’

I was not a Christian at the time, but I have often reflected that this was the first time that I became conscious of a spiritual awaking in my own life. I had been active in denouncing apartheidism and eschewed all things South African in my personal commitment to stop its spread; much the same as I do now with Chinese goods and the genocide taking place against the Uyghurs. This was the same method of separation that I had taken 15 years earlier, from the meat producing industry and its inherent cruelty to animals.

Many of you will know the Archbishop’s work for the suffering black Africans but few if any of you will know that he also linked the evil inherent in that suffering with the suffering of animals. I shall therefore reproduce part of his Foreword to Prof Linsey’s book The Global Guide to Animal Protection, to enlighten you on his thoughts on animal suffering and its inherent injustice.

Extending Justice and Compassion.

‘I have spent my life fighting discrimination and injustice, whether the victims are blacks, women, or gays and lesbians. No human being should be the target of prejudice or the object of vilification or be denied his or her basic rights. I could not have lived with myself, as a Christian and a bishop, if I had looked the other way. But the business of fighting injustice is like fighting a multiheaded hydra. As one form of injustice appears to be vanquished, another takes its place. Even if the path of progress seems interminably long, we can content ourselves with the sense that injustices to other human beings are at least on the agenda, or mostly so.

But there are other issues of justice – not only for human beings but also for the world’s other sentient creatures. The matter of the abuse and cruelty we inflict on other animals has to fight for our attention in what sometimes seems an already overfull moral agenda. It is vital, however, that these instances of injustice not be overlooked. I have seen firsthand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless of vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a high authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interest and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.

Religious traditions do not, by and large, have a good record on animals. It has taken Christian churches some nineteen hundred years to recognize the immorality of slavery and even longer to recognize that women should not be treated as second-class citizens. Animals have invariably occupied a rather low, sometimes nonexistent place on the moral agenda of the churches. But things are now, slowly but surely, beginning to change…increasing numbers of people are gradually beginning to adopt more thoughtful and compassionate attitudes towards animals.

In many ways, it is odd that my fellow Christians have failed to see the issue of how we treat animals as a Gospel issue. After all, animals are also God’s creatures. Christians believe that the world is God’s creation. It is a kind of theological folly to suppose that God has made the entire world just for human beings, or to suppose that God is interested in only one of the millions of species that inhabit God’s good earth. Our dominion over animals is not supposed to be despotism. We are made in the Image of God, yes, but God – in whose image we are made – is holy, loving and just. We do not honor God by abusing other sentient creatures.

If it is true that we are the most exalted species in creations, it is equally true that we can be the most debased and sinful. This realization should give us pause. So much of our maltreatment of animals stems from a kind of spiritual blindness, a kind of hubris, in which we foolishly suppose that our own welfare is God’s sole concern. In fact, God’s creation is entrusted to our care and under our protection. There is something Christ-like about caring for suffering creatures, whether they are humans or animals.

Even when faced with urgent human problems we should not overlook the issue of justice to animals. In fact, as increasing amount of evidence shows that there is a link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to weaker human beings…All of us have an interest in the creation of a cruelty-free world. Churches should lead the way by making clear that all cruelty – to other animals as well as human beings – is an affront to civilized living and a sin before God…’

The world has lost a great man today. A man totally devoted to speaking the truth to power, no matter how that power is represented. The world and its inhabitants cannot afford to lose such people. My own work offers similar arguments to that above, and I am deeply saddened at his passing.

Dr. Christina Nellist.

Greening the Orthodox Parish

Each person is morally obliged to refrain from pollution and destruction of the environment. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

As Orthodox Christians we are called by Scripture, the saints and fathers, and our patriarchs speaking in one voice, to live in harmony with God’s creation. This will bring an intentionally Christian character to our lives. This also helps us extend the life of the Church into the life of the world.


The First Steps into Parish Ecological Practice
The following guidelines introduce Orthodox creation care principles and practice. These principles can be woven into sermons and parish talks so that an education takes place on the rationale for Orthodox ecological practice. This list is only a beginning. As a simple code of words, seek to “share, care, spare and repair” the materials of creation. Ecological action is a doorway for building a whole Orthodox way of life.

To sustain these goals, strive for an equally important set of spiritual principles. These include a vision of Christ in all things; thankfulness; earth stewardship; regular prayer, simplicity, cleanliness and contentment; practice of the virtues; seeking the beauty of the Lord; respect for creation; and theosis.

1. Extend Christian attitudes

We as Image are to love and care for all of God’s creation. Teach the Orthodox vision of Christ everywhere present in creation. Help parish members recall that we are continually dealing with the veiled presence of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in creation. Acknowledge God by respecting His Creation. Key themes are: renew, reuse, restore and replenish.

2. Restore the Earth.

Plant trees and wild gardens/meadows to enable the flourishing of creation.

3. Show kindness and compassion

Show kindness and compassion to all of God’s creatures. Ensure your parishioners, friends and family understand that God cares for all of His creatures.

4. Recycle all wastes
In Genesis, we are commanded by God to replenish the earth (Gen.1:28, KJV). Eliminate as many non-recyclable materials as possible. Use glass and china rather than plastic and Styrofoam cups, plates and cutlery.

5. Eliminate trash and excess
As much as possible minimize the purchase of items with excess packaging and things designed to be thrown away after use. Whenever possible, pick up rubbish and litter.

6. Buy green products
Purchase sustainable materials. Do not buy items that expose others to harmful
chemicals. Buy carefully and with an awakened conscience.

7. Serve clean foods
Avoid pesticide-laden foods – organic is best. Eat local, high welfare food and where possible, begin to increase your plant-based food. Eliminate junk food. Do not consume fish contaminated by mercury.

8. Remove incandescent light fixtures and bulbs
The excess use of electricity results in pollution and contributes to air pollution and serious harm to neighbors. As much as possible, use less polluting, lower cost lighting options.

9. Reduce energy use
When possible, use renewable sources of energy. We are to live within the limits of creation and refrain from doing harm. Refrain from the excess use of fossil fuels.

10. Respect drinking water
Drink clean water. Avoid bottled water which is often no better than tap water. To ensure clean water, purchase a water filter and serve clean water in glass pitchers. Never pour pollutants down the drain or into water-ways.

11. Minimize possessions Own less, use less, and enjoy life more. Buy what you need not what you want.

12. Study the Issues
For a larger listing of how to “green” your parish, look at the Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration website: https://www.orth-transfiguration.org

The £3 chicken: how much should we actually be paying for the nation’s favourite meat?

Fifty years ago, a medium broiler cost the equivalent of £11 today. Now it is less than a latte or a pint of beer, raising serious ethical and environmental questions

One of Simon Barton’s chicks, at his farm in Somerset.
One of Simon Barton’s chicks, at his farm in Somerset. Photograph: Jim Wileman/The Guardian

Simon Usborne The Guardian Wed 24 Nov 2021 06.00 GMT

A giant metal shed in Somerset is alive with the chirps of more than 17,000 three-day-old chicks. The yellow balls of fluff are still adjusting to their new home. When one breaks into a run, dozens more follow. They move like leaves blown around a town square.

“They’re not all named!” says Simon Barton, raising his voice above the din. Chicks climb over our boots, pecking at everything in search of food. We shuffle rather than walk lest we squash one.

Barton, a former TV engineer, quit the BBC 25 years ago to move here with his wife, Karen, a nurse. The couple took over and grew Karen’s father’s chicken farm not far from the Quantock Hills. They now produce more than a million birds a year.

The chicks arrived two days ago in a lorry from a huge hatchery. In the next six or seven weeks, they will multiply in weight 45 times to reach their target of 2.4kg (5lb 5oz). The broilers, as meat chickens are known (“layers” lay eggs), will then be trucked to a poultry processor and on to customers including Sainsbury’s.

Right now Barton has 197,000 chicks across several sheds. The one I’m in is the length of a jumbo jet. It sounds like a lot of birds. It looks like a lot. Yet in the UK we eat 17,000 chickens – the number I’m looking at in this one shed – every nine minutes. We consume more than 1bn broilers a year.

Later, sitting in his modest home office, Barton looks at the Sainsbury’s prices for whole chickens like his. “So, they do a medium bird for £3.50,” he says, running a finger over a page in his diary, where he occasionally scribbles numbers from supermarket websites. He looks up at me. “That’s the price of a latte.”

Animal welfare organisations have long criticised a complex supply chain that has grown into a stunningly efficient beast of protein production. Advances in breeding and nutrition along with basic economies of scale have slashed prices. Now the industry itself is asking questions about the fraught chickenomics of the £3 broiler.

Last month, in an intervention that made headlines, Britain’s typically shy “chicken king” called for a “reset” on pricing. It was perhaps surprising because Ranjit Singh Boparan is arguably the chief architect of the industry. As the UK’s biggest poultry supplier, his 2 Sisters Food Group processes more than 10m birds a week, including all of Barton’s broilers.

“How can it be right that a whole chicken costs less than a pint of beer?” Boparan asked in a press release under the headline “Food’s great reset”. The effects of Brexit, the pandemic and soaring costs were “decaying the food sector’s supply-chain infrastructure”, he said, warning that shoppers face a “different world” in which they pay more.

Workers inspect chickens on an assembly line in Harbin, northeast China

Labour, heat, electricity, packaging and the carbon dioxide used in processing and packing are all more expensive. The price of chicken feed, which accounts for 70% of Barton’s costs, is up 15%. A poultry plant in Yorkshire last month reported that the three tonnes of offal it normally sells each week was going in the skip because there was no one to process it. The British Poultry Council tells me Brexit cost the sector 15% of its workforce.

Yet the cost of chicken in the meat aisle and on menus has so far remained pretty steady. At the time of writing, Tesco is selling a whole bird for £2.66, flagging it as an “Aldi price match”. Then there are all the processed products, from breast fillets to dippers and Tesco’s “meaty strips” for dogs, which contain “animal derivatives” including chicken.

We have come to expect our most popular protein to be affordable. Low-income shoppers depend on it. “But we’ve run out of headroom,” says Barton, pushing his hands together to illustrate a squeeze. With the help of big loans, he has invested £1.5m in the farm in the past five years – all of it to maximise efficiencies and cling to profitability. The new shed he’s showing me, which is heated to a constant 32C (90F), cost almost £500,000 to build. “Everything’s pretty much down to the last penny now,” he adds.

Barton, who is proud of what he does, is willing to show me what it takes – and costs – to grow affordable chicken. I want to know how we got here. What are the consequences for animal welfare and the environment, words that were notably absent from Boparan’s cri de coeur? And, if not £3, then what is a fair price for a chicken?

Barton, in one of his chicken sheds.
Barton, in one of his chicken sheds. Photograph: Jim Wileman/The Guardian

In 1967, when the government started recording average chicken prices in the UK, a kilo cost 39p. In September this year, a kilo cost £2.76. Adjusting for inflation, that’s actually a huge price drop; 39p in 1967 would be £7.24 today. A medium broiler 50 years ago was about £11 in today’s prices.

We can trace the decline to a small town in Maryland. In 1948, tens of thousands of fertilised eggs from across the US arrived at a farm for a competition to find the “chicken of tomorrow”. At the time, chickens were still reared primarily as egg layers. Male birds were a byproduct to be culled as chicks or reared as tasty but scrawny and barely profitable broilers.

After the deprivations of war, the industry spied an opportunity to feed the world with bigger, better, cheaper, faster-growing chickens. After 12 weeks, the competition birds were slaughtered, weighed and judged. The winning bloodlines were interbred in what was the start of a revolution. It turned chickens into a science project, a plump commodity – and a fast-food staple.

The UK played a big part in it. In 1956, a Scottish company called Chunky Chicks secured a licence for some of the genetic stock from the Maryland contest. Chunky Chicks was then acquired by the Ross Group, which is responsible for one of the world’s most popular broilers, the Ross 308. Meanwhile, in East Anglia, a US company called Cobb created the Cobb 500. The birds had lighter bones, bigger breasts, faster growth rates and smaller appetites for expensive feed.

Cobb and Ross are now owned by, respectively, the US-headquartered food conglomerates Tyson and Aviagen (Aviagen is in turn owned by the secretive German billionaire Erich Wesjohann). They engineer and breed branded chicks with varying characteristics, selling these into the global industry of breeders and hatcheries. Cobb 700s, for example, are advertised for their “outstanding breast meat yield”. Ultimately about 90% of the world’s broilers are now Cobb or Ross birds.

Chickens were well suited to this kind of forced evolution. “The generational gap is so fast, which means these two companies can change things really quickly,” says Emily Burton, a professor of sustainable food production at Nottingham Trent University and a poultry nutritionist. While their controversial use in the UK has declined, antibiotics were also vital in making giant sheds viable for huge flocks.

As the industry grew, attracting big players and buyouts at every level of the chain, there was no stopping a meat that met few cultural or religious barriers to consumption. “But when you position yourself as the lowest-price commodity product, the only way is down,” says Burton. “The margins are too tight.” To reverse the decline, she adds: “You really have to reinvent yourself.”

Until January this year, Liam Hodgson worked at Moy Park, a rival to 2 Sisters Food Group. In a poultry version of “poacher turned gamekeeper”, he then joined the RSPCA. As corporate outreach manager, he is now responsible for promoting chicken welfare. “A lot of the other charities were sceptical of me at first,” Hodgson, 28, tells me.The chicken run: blood, sweat and deceit at a UK poultry plantRead more

The RSPCA has for decades challenged a rapacious business model. It is increasingly now working with the industry to find the next “chicken of tomorrow”. Hodgson sees opportunity in Boparan’s call for a reset. A squeezed supply chain may be the chicken king’s primary concern, but an appetite for change may also benefit animals that have endured 75 years of unnatural selection.

The cheapest broilers can now reach slaughter weight in five weeks. Such gains in crowded sheds, where birds are denied the chance to peck, perch and explore, can strain hearts and legs, and harden muscle. Chicken faeces can cause lesions and ammoniaburns on feet and legs. In the Netherlands, animal welfare groups call five-week broilers plofkip, which roughly translates as “exploded chicken”.

Abattoirs can be ugly too. Exposure of bad practice, as well as high-profile welfare campaigns, have helped lift standards. But minimum requirements are still not exactly plush. Sheds in the UK can house no more than 39kg of bird a square metre. By the time they’re ready for processing, that’s the equivalent of about 16 fat chickens on a beach towel.

In Somerset, Barton is at the forefront of a shift towards higher standards. He owns another farm, not far from the one he’s showing me, where chicks are stocked at a marginally roomier 38kg/m2, which meets standards for the Red Tractor assurance scheme. Red Tractor chickens must also have windows, and bales and logs for perching and pecking.

The chicks I’m meeting are RSPCA Assured broilers. They are stocked at 30kg/m2 and are a different breed – Hubbard JA87 – that grow for a couple more weeks (Hubbard, a multinational hatchery, is part of Aviagen). They have more to peck at and perch on, although they are still reared indoors. Assured birds also meet the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), a welfare policy launched with RSPCA backing in 2017. It challenges retailers and food companies to switch all supplies to the higher standard by 2026. Waitrose and KFC signed up in 2019. M&S announced this year that it would meet the standard by 2022. But hundreds of other big companies are lagging.

Switching requires investment. But after that, Barton tells me returns for BCC and Red Tractor birds are roughly the same, because he can charge 2 Sisters about 20p more a kilo for the higher standard. He says Red Tractor birds still make up about 95% of the market, but he and Hodgson expect that to change as the industry looks for wriggle room in which to “reset” prices – and expectation of price – and consumers demand better welfare. But this will have unintended consequences.

Poultry production is so efficient that, kilo for kilo, it has a relatively low carbon impact – roughly on a par with olive oil and almost a 10th of that of beef, according to the Carbon Brief website. But higher welfare standards require more land, more heat and more feed, which mostly comes from land-intensive soya. If we want to eat “happier” chickens, there will be an environmental cost.

Of course, we could eat fewer animals. The next “chicken of tomorrow” may yet be grown in a laboratory. The rise of flexitarianism may also help. In the meantime, while BCC may not look like a welfare revolution, the RSPCA sees it as an achievable compromise. “It’s not perfect, but it’s a positive step in the right direction,” Hodgson says. Burton, who has independently researched the sector for almost 25 years, is more effusive. “BCC is the most exciting thing that has happened in the industry since I started,” she says.

Barton’s RSPCA Assured chicks are still getting used to their shed. Suspended lines dispense feed granules into plastic yellow pans. Two shiny steel weighing platforms also hang from the ceiling for curious chicks to hop on as they please. Barton can see via an app on his phone that today each bird weighs 67g – a 14g gain in two days. “It ramps up later,” he says.

A recent RSPCA survey, which did not include prices, suggests that 85% of 18- to 34-year-olds are willing to pay more for slower-growing chicken – and 70% in older age groups. Barton says an industry of entrepreneurs is poised to adapt – to reset. He thinks 2 Sisters may soon ask him to convert all his sheds to BCC standard to meet rising demand. Apart from anything, he adds, farmers prefer more spacious sheds “because there’s more room to walk through the birds”.

Battery hens at an egg-laying poultry farm.

I ask the farmer what he thinks is a fair price for a chicken. Like everyone I speak to, he prefers not to put a figure on it. “We just want a proportion of any increase,” he says. Hodgson estimates BCC birds are 20-30% more expensive for consumers – another pound on our £3.50 Sainsbury’s medium whole chicken. If more than your average latte, £4.50 is still in pint-of-beer territory, to use Boparan’s comparison.

Of course, you can pay a lot more. A free-range or organic chicken, which is even slower growing and has spent plenty of time outside, costs from £11 in supermarkets. That’s a striking match of the 1967 average.

Barton is just about still making a profit, but knows of other farmers on the brink. Everyone fears the effects of a strain of avian flu now sweeping the country. “It’s becoming very tense,” Barton says. Ultimately, he tells me, it won’t be he who determines the value of our favourite meat – but me and you. “At the end of the day, we will produce what the consumer wants,” he says before we shuffle carefully out of the shed and lock the door.

Climate Crisis and Creation Care: Responding to the Call from Halki 111.

Today, it is reasonable to suggest that most people understand that climate change is real and that it is dangerous. Our level of consumption and misuse of the natural world has negatively changed our atmosphere, weather patterns, oceans, environments, and the lives of the creatures within those environments. As Fr John Chryssavgis (Foreword) reminds us “We are at a moment of crisis and consequence. The Greek word for crisis (krisis) indicates a sense of responsibility and accountability for the way in which we respond to the unique and universal problems that we have created and face.” Our misuse and abuse of God’s gift, threatens all forms of life, including our own. “For the church Fathers, it is clear that insofar as creation is a gift, it is a gift to all creatures in common.” (Theokritoff, Climate Crisis and Sustainable Creaturely Care: 356)

With children to grandparents demonstrating on the streets in countries across the world, there is at last an acknowledgment that we can no longer prevaricate or leave promises unfulfilled – the time has come for urgent and decisive action. Many of these people are people of faith and part of our congregations, yet sadly, there is still a gap between the teachings of faith leaders and participation at local/parish level. Yes, many will know that we should move away from ‘what we desire to what we need’ – to create a lighter footprint on the earth – yet many will not, because little time is given at parish level for them to hear the teachings of our hierarchs or to discuss how to accommodate them. Bishops in every diocese and their priests are, therefore, essential for creating real change in individual behaviour because few people read journals of theology or view Metropolitan websites.

The forensic question to ask here is why many parishes are still inactive on this critical issue? Perhaps they feel inadequate to the task – this would not be surprising, for many causes of climate change are complex. Certainly, the young are interested, and recent research informs us that they are also very anxious and fearful of the future for they are informed on the likely death of millions/billions of people/flora/faunae – as the ‘Hothouse-Earth’ scenario becomes a reality. We know from research that the younger demographic is the smallest in terms of church attendance and so perhaps this situation affords us the opportunity to bring them back to the church. As ‘Image of God’ and ‘Priests of Creation’ we are duty-bound to consider their suffering and offer them comfort and hope. To do so will require our Bishops to bless their priests to engage with this most pressing of issues – one that will worsen exponentially over time, and just as importantly, to provide their priests with the information they need to perform this vital role, at this critical time. It has long been argued that it is incumbent upon people of faith and their clergy to engage with the issue of ‘Creation Care’ – both individually and institutionally – because as the early church Fathers until today have taught us, everything is connected, and interdependent. This was a key theme at Halki 111 – we were urged not only to teach ‘Creation Care’ in our seminaries, but also, to educate ourselves, our priests and thus our congregations on the subject.

The seeds for these two substantial collections were sown at Halki 111, and from a meeting in Patmos later that year, where our focus was on living sustainable Christian lives. They also come from a personal mission to bring the voice of Orthodoxy to those who know little, if anything, about our faith; for the author is convinced that our theology holds the key to tackling the evil that abounds on this earth, taking harbour as it does, in the reckless policies of powerful vested-interests and the many corrupt individuals in power across the world.

Whilst it is right and proper for us to talk to other Orthodox, it is also vital that we create opportunities for our teachings to reach other Christians and faiths, and equally, create opportunities for us to learn from them. These two collections do just that, but more than that – they also give space to voices outside of religion who can inform us – and be informed by us – on the spiritual dimension so frequently lost or silenced in the political or scientific discourse on the subject. Thus, over forty academics and experts from fourteen countries and six continents write with authority and clarity on aspects of the climate crisis and care for the natural world, which include, though not limited to, the fields of theology; law; ethics; philosophy; science; medicine; business; animal protection, and from multiple faiths, inter-faith, and secular perspectives. Regardless of their expertise, they write in the hope that we, either as individuals or as decision-makers in government and civil society, will respond to the climate crisis far more quickly than is currently the case. Some write with extreme bravery on rarely discussed subjects such as the corruption at the heart of the illegal wildlife-trade and its links to organized crime, where the profits from this abomination are used to facilitate other abominations such as the modern slave trade, and the trafficking of drugs and arms. (Kamasanyu, Climate Crisis and Sustainable Creaturely Care:103). We are also informed of the complexities of population growth and climate change, and on how we may ‘green’ theological education via the Tsalampouni & Antonopoulou chapter, (Climate Crisis and Creation Care:329-348), and the ‘Creation Care Christian Responsibility Course’, for parishes, youth groups and individual study, (Nellist, Appendix). Others write from a scientific or legal perspective on the crisis in the Amazon; climate instability; rights to environmental protection, and medical unpreparedness. The list is long, seemingly disparate, yet interconnected, in a way oft quoted in Orthodoxy, as a communion of love and compassion. The result is a powerful collective voice that recognizes the interconnectedness of ‘all things’ in the natural world and the need for urgent action by governments, civil society – including our churches, and individuals alike.

Follow the links for further information:

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 – Cambridge Scholars Publishing

2 NEW BOOKS ON CLIMATE CRISIS AND CREATION CARE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The statement calls on people to:

Pray for world leaders ahead of COP26

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

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

Read the full statement here.

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

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


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

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


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

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




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