Protection of Creation and the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

by Elias Crisostomo Abramides last modified 22 September 2015 02:59 PM
Protection of Creation and the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

“God in your grace, transform the world”. Prayer at the outset of the WCC 9th Assembly. Photo: Paulino Menezes/WCC

22 September 2015

Late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios of Constantinople in his Encyclical Letter of 1st September 1989 invited the entire Christian world to observe that day as the day of prayer for the care and protection of the very good creation of God:

“… Therefore, we invite the entire Christian world through this our Patriarchal Message to offer together with the Ecumenical Patriarchate every year on this day prayers and supplications to the Maker of all, both in thanksgiving for the great gift of Creation and in petition for its protection and salvation. At the same time we paternally urge, on the one hand, all the faithful in the world to admonish themselves and their children to respect and protect the natural environment, and, on the other hand, all those who are entrusted with the responsibility of governing nations to act without delay in taking all necessary measures for the protection and preservation of natural creation…”

The intention of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was clearly explained in simple though meaningful, inspiring words. The environment where we live in, which nurtures our bodies providing us with pure air to breathe, clean water to drink, and material food and shelter, is to be cared for and protected from human abuse, misuse and damage.

At the same time our Christian spirituality should be fair and just enough to find one day in our churches’ calendar to thank “… God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible…” for all the bounties of Creation and finally for life, the marvellous and incomparable gift given to us by the Creator.

In 1991 after his election as the spiritual head of Orthodoxy, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew continued stressing this crucial matter. Every 1st September he issues an Encyclical Letter on the care of Creation, as well as special messages on the World Environment Day and on other occasions when Creation is endangered.

As a key aggression to Creation, the anthropogenic climate change is triggered by the spiritual crisis of human beings. Greed, pride, a lack of love for our neighbour and nature, and an insatiable consumerism imposed by the established economic order has discarded the role of human beings as priests of Creation, turning them into its exploiters and abusers, treating all its constituents including human beings as commodities.

Climate change and its immediate consequences: forced migrations, poles and glaciers melting, sea level rise, desertification, water insecurity, food insecurity, energy insecurity and their strong impact on the increase of poverty in the world’s communities, is among the worst menaces humanity and all Creation is facing today, jeopardising the future of life on planet Earth.

Climate change is in itself an issue of justice.

In the WCC Statement to the Plenary of the COP3 meeting in Kyoto in 1997, we read that justice means being held responsible for one’s actions; it means being held accountable for promises made; it means being held responsible for the suffering caused to others; it means being held accountable for the abuse of power; it means an equitable sharing of the Earth’s resources; and justice demands truth and honesty.

And to meet all these demands the world needs peace.

The theme of the WCC 7th Assembly (Canberra, 1991) – was: “Come, Holy Spirit - Renew the Whole Creation”. The ecological crisis affecting the entire human and physical universe inspired the pledge of the delegates to care for Creation; it was the first time a WCC Assembly theme invoked the third person of the Holy Trinity.

The theme of the WCC 9th Assembly (Porto Alegre, 2006) – was: “God in your grace, transform the world”. It was again a pledge to God, the Maker of all things, to transform the hearts and minds of human beings to produce the needed repentance (metanoia) and change (metamorphosis) in order to generate a new paradigm for the care of God’s Creation.

The theme of the WCC 10th Assembly (Busan, 2013) was: “God of life, lead us to justice and peace. The Earth needs peace, as well as humanity needs justice and peace for a deep and bountiful reconciliation in the world. With justice, peace is reached.

Thus the call, the invitation to start a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is in itself a pledge, a movement to let us move towards the future, a passage, a road of hope and faith along our lives, to fulfil God’s purpose in creating life in this wonderful, beautiful but frail common home.

As pilgrims our attention is centred at present in converging into Paris next December during the UNFCCC COP21, requesting and demanding from the policy makers a just, fair, ethical, and binding agreement, to stop the terrible consequences caused by climate change for Creation, which are already being experienced globally.

We pray God to grant us the will and the strength to move along this Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace to generate the demanded transformative changes.


The impressions, hopes and ideas expressed in this blog are the contributions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or policies of the World Council of Churches.

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