A new book, entitled “The Orthodox Church Addresses the Climate Crisis” (collective volume, edited by Theodota Nantsou & Nikolaos Asproulis) has been recently published by WWF Greece & Volos Academy for Theological Studies (Athens & Volos, 2021). The new book was presented in an online event organized by Volos Academy and WWF Greece on Monday, March 29, 2021. The book presented is part of a series of common efforts in raising environmental awareness and addressing climate change. The online event included a video message by H.A.H. the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, while speakers included Metropolitan Ignatios (Georgakopoulos) of Demetrias and Almyros, Bishop Ignatije (Midić) of Pozarevac and Branicevo (Serbian Patriarchate), Theodota Nantsou, Head of Policy at WWF Greece, and Nikolaos Asproulis, Deputy Director at Volos Academy of Theological Studies. The discussion was coordinated by Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Director of Volos Academy of Theological Studies.
The book calls for concerted action in the face of the climate crisis, which threatens all life on earth. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the book focuses particularly on a region which is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels, while facing serious social and economic challenges: the Balkans.
The Orthodox Church, which is a common ground all over the Balkans, can be a power for change. Due to the strong dependence of Balkan economies on fossil fuels (primarily coal) for energy production, and also because of the low level of awareness of local societies for environmental issues, the collaboration of Orthodox Christian leaders, theologians and environmental activists is of great importance, paving the road to climate neutrality. As humanity now faces cataclysmic impacts of the climate crisis and the enormous effects of the loss of natural ecosystems and biodiversity, the role of the Church in actively restoring a harmonious and sustainable interaction with our environment is absolutely essential.
“As the climate crisis reaches the life threatening threshold of 1.5 o – 2o C rise of the planet’s mean temperature, which is widely considered as the start of an unstoppable collapse of climate and ecosystems, the year 2021 is a milestone for concerted action to reverse this trend towards a planetary crisis of historic proportions. Joining forces with all in good faith is the only way out of this existential crisis. The contribution of national and local Church leaders and communities towards a socially just transition to climate neutrality and the development of the best available solutions can be game-changing for the protection of humans and nature” states Theodota Nantsou, Head of Policy at WWF Greece.
In the words of Nikolaos Asproulis, Deputy Director of Volos Academy for Theological Studies: “For many decades, humanity has been experiencing the tragic effects of the climate crisis. Despite numerous initiatives undertaken by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Green Patriarch, the majority of our Churches have not shown the necessary interest in halting the environmental catastrophe so far. The book under discussion comes at just the right time, at a moment when our planet is on the brink of collapse. This is the ultimate moment when man needs to act. The book offers a fresh look at the rich tradition and ethos of the Orthodox Church, elements that can inspire and raise awareness to tackle the environmental crisis. Not tomorrow, somewhere in the world, but today, here in our neighborhood, the Balkans (Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and so on), in our home, which is in danger of being destroyed by the reckless use of fossil fuels, overconsumption, and human arrogance. Now is the time for our Church to promote its green ethos and its green theology”.
Τhe video message of H.A.H. the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
The video of the online event (in English) is available at the YouTube channel of Volos Academy