St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

Climate Change a Symptom of Spiritual Disorder Says Patriarch

By David Fines

Montreal, Canada, 28 November (ENI) - One of the world's top spiritual leaders has issued a warning about climate change as representatives from more than 180 nations gather for a United Nations' conference in Montreal on global warming.

"Climate change is more than an issue of environmental preservation," said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I who is seen by many as the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. "Insofar as human induced, it is a profoundly moral and spiritual problem."

The Montreal meeting is the first UN gathering since the coming into force in February of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which sets international standards for reducing atmospheric gases that many scientists believe cause global warming. The meeting aims to
chart future action on climate change when the first phase of the protocol comes to an end in 2012.

"Unless we take radical and immediate measures to reduce emissions stemming from unsustainable - in fact unjustifiable, if not simply unjust - excesses in the demands of our lifestyle, the impact will be both alarming and imminent," the patriarch said.

The United States has not ratified the treaty and US President George Bush has expressed scepticism about scientific findings on climate change.

"Although the data regarding climate change is sometimes debated, the seriousness of the situation is generally accepted," noted Patriarch Bartholomeos in a statement released by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, which is leading a 80-strong delegation in Montreal.

Bartholomeos added, "To persist in the current path of ecological destruction is not only folly. It is no less than suicidal, jeopardising the diversity of the very earth that we inhabit, enjoy and share."

The patriarch said faith communities were well-placed to take a long-term view of the world as God's creation while he also noted the need for them "to put their own houses in order" and for their adherents to embrace the urgency of the issue.

WCC climate change coordinator David Hallman said: "Daily events remind us of the undeniable seriousness of climate change caused by greenhouse gases." He was speaking before an interfaith service planned to take place in Montreal on 4 December. "The oil crisis, recurring devastating hurricanes, rising temperatures, the gradual disappearance of the polar ice caps, rising sea levels and global warming affect us all, believers and non-believers alike."