“If we are to respond to the ecological crisis in a responsible and substantial way, we must move beyond mere talk to practical action,” said Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in an official message to the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change to be held this week in New York City.
Sponsored by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in collaboration with the Religions for Peace, the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change will take place from 21 to 22 September, before the United Nations Climate Summit called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
Speaking on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, a founding member of the WCC, Patriarch Bartholomew said that “each believer and each leader, each field and each discipline, each institution and each individual must be touched by the call to change our greedy ways and destructive habits” for the sake of climate justice.
In his message for the summit, the Ecumenical Patriarch stressed that “unless we change the way we live; we cannot hope to avoid ecological damage. This means that – instead of solely depending on governments and experts for answers – each of us must become accountable for our slightest gesture and act in order to reverse the path that we are on, which will of course also include prevailing upon governments and leaders for the creation and application of collective policy and practice.”
Reflecting on possible outcomes of the summit, Bartholomew said that if the “final statement of this summit is to prove informative and influential, it must be translated more than simply for the purpose of signing by the religious dignitaries; it must prove transformative of people’s lives”.
The Interfaith Summit on Climate Change is part of a global effort to mobilize people and communities on the issue of climate change. A large number of religious leaders will gather for the summit. It is felt that the involvement of indigenous peoples and youth will be vital.
In attendance will be leaders from various spiritual traditions such as the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Brahma Kumaris, Indigenous and multi-spiritual.
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2013 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 140 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway.