Category Archives: Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations

Common Senses Climate Change, Human Responsibility, and Collective Action in the Shared Words of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew

by Christiana Zenner Peppard  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

On Friday, Sept. 1, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis issued a “Joint Message on the World Day of Prayer for Creation.” Just over one page long, the pithy document packs an ethical imperative into its message about prayer for creation. This isn’t the first time that a pope and Patriarch have opined together on the environment: in 2002, John Paul II and Bartholomew penned a “Common Declaration” that drew on Orthodox theologies of Creation and Catholic Social Teaching to critique the environmental outcomes of “an economic and technological progress which does not recognize and take into account its limits”. In that document, the leaders called for “a growth of an ecological awareness,” and pressed the importance of the notion of stewardship, humility, and alignment with the natural (moral) law. Such ideas can be found in many teachings from both ecclesial bodies, but it is unquestionable that this new, September 1, 2017, exhortation emphasizes solidarity, service, and collective responsibility and action in important new ways.

What does the document say? The first paragraph begins with Scripture; thereafter, climate change is the central concern, especially the negative impacts on “those who live in poverty in every corner of the globe.” Continue Reading…

Pope Francis in Egypt: Why Ecumenism is Necessary

by Massimo Faggioli

Two Popes

Photo: L’Osservatore Romano

Pope Francis’ trip to Egypt (April 28-29, 2017) has been one of the most important and difficult for this pontificate, given the international political situation and the plight of Coptic Christians in Egypt and of all Christians between Africa and the Middle East. It is not easy to look at this trip through one single interpretive lens, and therefore it requires the attempt to read it in the context of the pontificate.

A first level was the trip of Francis as expression of the modern magisterium of the pope of the Catholic Church on the relationship between religion as defensor of human rights and political rights in an age of evident crisis of faith not only in God, but also in our fellow human beings – the crisis of democracy. Interestingly, in his speech to the strongman of Egypt, general Al Sisi, and to the political authorities, Francis quoted from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 but also from the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, delivering a blunt reminder to Egyptian political authorities: “It is our duty to proclaim together that history does not forgive those who preach justice, but then practice injustice.” Francis walked a very fine line between the need to avoid the impression of a papal blessing of the post-Islamist regime of Al Sisi in Egypt, more friendly to Christians than the brief period of Morsi on one side, and on the other side the need not to be silent before the disturbing record of the present regime in terms of the respect of democratic rights and of freedom. Continue Reading…

Religions and Peace

by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

bartholomew cairo.jpg

Photo: romfea.gr

With the Permission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we print an Address of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Al-Azhar and Muslim Council of Elders’ Global Peace Conference.

Your Beatitudes, Eminences, Excellencies,

Distinguished participants,

Dear friends,

It is an honor to be invited to address this Conference on Global Peace organized by Al-Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders. We wholeheartedly congratulate His Eminence Mr. Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, for having the courage and vision to organize this crucial initiative in the promotion of peace by religions.

During the last two decades, humanity has experienced continuous terrorist attacks, which are the cause of death and hurt of thousands of people, and which are becoming the greatest threat and source of fear for contemporary societies. Since then, religions have been often suspected or openly accused for inspiring terrorism and violence. Our everyday life has become filled with horrible news about terrorist attacks in the name of religion.

At the same time, we notice the willingness and capacity in our world to promote dialogue instead of conflict. Continue Reading…

On Ecumenoclasm: Salvation for Non-Christians?

by Paul Ladouceur

last judgment

Early Christian thinking on non-Christian religions was conditioned by the official paganism of the Roman Empire, Greek philosophy, Christianity’s relationships with Judaism and flourishing mystery cults. Later, Orthodoxy had extensive historical experience, often but not entirely negative, as a religious minority under non-Christian regimes in Persia, the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire. Christian communities under Muslim rule were frequently in a survival mode, which made theological reflection on the meaning of religious diversity in God’s plan for salvation next to impossible. Only in recent times have Orthodox begun to consider the theological significance of religious diversity, especially as Orthodoxy is increasingly challenged with this reality both in countries of Orthodox immigration in Western Europe and North America, and increasingly in countries of Orthodox tradition. Continue Reading…