Patriarchal Exhortation by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Orthodox Delegations (Jerusalem, May 26, 2014)

Patriarchal Exhortation by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Orthodox Delegations (Jerusalem, May 26, 2014)

Most Reverend Brother Archbishops and Metropolitans,

Distinguished Clergy and precious Archons,

Esteemed guests and friends of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,

Χριστός  Ἀνέστη!

What a unique blessing it is for us that this is the final week in our liturgical calendar when we greet one another with the joyous proclamation: Christ is Risen! Χριστός  Ἀνέστη!

And in this festive and radiant spirit of Resurrection and Pascha, as we prepare to leave this Holy City and Land, we are about to celebrate the glorious Ascension of our Lord.

Let us remember the words of our Lord to His disciples on the very same mountain as our venerable predecessors, Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, met fifty years ago. We are told that "the disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them . . . And Jesus came and said to them: ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . . And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matt. 28.16-20)

These words are a clear indication both of our vocation and consolation. For our journey and meeting in this Holy City should never be regarded – by us in the present or by others in the future – as tourism or pleasure. Its essence and purpose are exclusively and unreservedly a commemoration and commitment. Indeed, perhaps we should say that the reason we traveled here and the legacy, which we take with us as we depart, include our responsibility and accountability as Christians before the suffering and poverty in our world. It is at the same time a commission and a commitment.

It is our God-given mandate to bring discipleship to the world around us. And by discipleship, we mean the discipline bequeathed to us by our Lord to have compassion for one another and the natural environment. We are called and commanded to share with others the gifts that we have received and the joy that we have experienced on this Holy Mountain of Zion and in the Holy City of Jerusalem. This means that we should discern ways of extending the fellowship that we have enjoyed with the spiritual leader and faithful adherents of the Roman Catholic Church to all Christian confessions and all faith communities in our world. We must discover means of expressing our respect for and protection of our planet's natural resources by sustaining the environment and supporting the least of our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

This is precisely why our Joint Declaration with His Holiness highlighted the urgent need to cooperate in addressing and advocating for religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, as well as in safeguarding and sustaining the gift of God's creation. In this respect, we would like to emphasize our pledge to establish an interfaith and international ecological institute, the Prinkipos World Environment Center in Istanbul. We have already begun working with generous champions of this project, such as Muhtar Kent, Andrew Liveris, George Logothetis, and others in order to realize this eco-vision. The Prinkipos Center will be a new and pioneering organization, which aims to develop and catalyze the implementation of multidisciplinary solutions to the most pressing environmental issues, initially focusing in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea regions but also in the war-torn regions of the Middle East and throughout the world. It is our humble way of embracing God's people and caring for our planet.

If, as we concluded our address to you when we first arrived in the Holy Land, "we are all members of one another" (Rom. 12.5), then we are also called to  "bear one another's burdens." (Gal. 6.2)

Beloved brothers and distinguished friends: "Let us depart in peace." And let us share with the whole world the joy that we have tasted over the last few days. God bless you all.