Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in response to the kind invitation of the President of the Marmara Grubu Vakfi Foundation, Dr. Akkan Suver gave a speech at the 26th Eurasian Economic Summit, which was attended by politicians, economists, businessmen, religious leaders and representatives of civil society from around the world.
The Ecumenical Patriarch, who spoke in English, referred to the crucial issue of climate change, in the context of, as he said, “the unjustified and unprovoked invasion a year ago of the Russian Federation (the largest country on the European continent) in the sovereign territory of Ukraine (the second largest European nation) – two peoples who not only border each other, but also share a rich history, culture, and faith.”
And the Ecumenical Patriarch then said:
The legendary account of the First Chronicle of Rus’ tells how, in the ninth century, Prince Vladimir sent envoys to determine which faith his people would choose. When the envoys visited Hagia Sophia, they were so shocked by her art and architecture that they exclaimed: “We have never seen such heavenly beauty on earth!” Through Kyiv, the Russian people met and were baptized into Orthodox Christianity.
Nevertheless, the past year has exposed the abuse of power, along with the exploitation of its nature and resources, as Russia has disregarded the human and ecological integrity of a country that demands and deserves independence and freedom. The worst – at least from our point of view, from the standpoint of religion and faith – the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate humiliated itself by submitting unconditionally to the Russian state and by unequivocally supporting the bloody military invasion. We have consistently and persistently condemned both the damaging war by President Putin and the immoral support by Patriarch Kirill, who even gave a “spiritual dimension” to hostility and bloodshed, assuring innocent soldiers that they will find their reward in heaven if they subdue their brothers in Ukraine.
At another point in his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch pointed out, as in other cases, that the way in which we respond to climate change and war inevitably determines our worldview and our vision for the future of our planet.
“We are accountable for the damage we are doing to our world – both for human death and environmental destruction. As political and religious leaders, we must always support peace and not conflict, life and not death, and preservation and not destruction.
We are all responsible for restoring our communities and safeguarding God’s creation. And we are all responsible – whether directly or indirectly, through participation or indifference – for the violence inflicted on our brothers and sisters, but also for the rape of the natural environment in every part of the world. Indeed, we are also responsible for the effects of aggression and violence on human life and climate change, on poverty and inequality, but also on food shortages and energy renewal. Because all of us are inseparable and inextricably linked and interdependent. This is a lesson we have learned painfully in the last three years with the new coronavirus and in the last year with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
At noon, the Ecumenical Patriarch attended the luncheon held during the conference, with the participation of Abdullah Gül, former President of the Turkish Republic.