Introductory Remarks by Margaret Karram

Halki Summit V

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Your All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew,
Rev Dr John Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
Dear sisters and brothers,

It is a great honor and a privilege to bring the greetings of the whole Focolare movement to this fifth edition of the Halki Summits in which we look at the Prophetic Ministry of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew towards the future of our common home.

The environmental crisis is indeed one of the most urgent and critical issues of the world today. It’s high time to think together, to pray together and to act together to sustain the future of our planet.

The ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople has played a formidable leading role in this context.

For over three decades, His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew has shown great leadership in affirming the profound theological and spiritual roots underlying his ecological commitment, as he beautifully pointed out in the Message for World Day of Creation in September 2020:

We repeat that the environmental activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are an extension of its ecclesiological self-consciousness and do not comprise a simple circumstantial reaction to a new phenomenon. The very life of the Church is an applied ecology[1].

The Church of Rome more decisively joined the quest for the protection of our planet with the encyclical Laudato Si in 2015, in which, among other things, Pope Francis openly acknowledges the leadership of our “beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew” (Laudato Si 7–9), showing a sense of continuity between his encyclical letter and the work of the patriarchate.

Our joint ecological action has strengthened our ecumenical bond and made us speak with one voice: we need to do more and go further together.

As Pope Francis invites us in Laudato Si we need to open “(…) a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” “a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all”[2].

The unprecedented ecological crisis can indeed become a great opportunity for us to forge a new alliance of faiths to preserve the future of our planet.

The invitation to a religious alliance and commitment for the environment became a public pledge last October 04, 2021, with the launch of the Faith Plans for people and planet program[i], where religious leaders from the major faiths signed, at the Vatican, the boldest environmental initiative to date by the global faith community.

The Focolare Movement is deeply committed to ecological conversion through practical action as well as through fostering dialogue with everyone for the protection of our planet. Stimulated by our General Assembly in early 2021, we have decided to take bold action through the creation of an ecological plan within our communities to bring about change and make our lives and our activities more sustainable.

Today, all our hopes for the environment seem to have been placed solely on science and technology. That is clearly very important. However, it is necessary to find, beside human intellect, other resources that can help us decide the path on which we want to walk as humanity today. Spiritual values that are still vital in driving individual and communitarian behavior can help us motivate a much-needed ecological and anthropological conversion. Above all, reconnecting our spiritual values to our ecological action reminds us that “rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise”[3].

In this perspective, sustaining the future of our planet together can become a universal invitation, a space for encounter and cooperation between world religions and people of good will alike. In Laudato Si’, the word ‘love’ is used in the text 70 times so as to indicate a path on which everyone is invited to walk. Only by ‘being love,’ in fact, can humanity restore that gaze on itself and on the rest of creation to rediscover the golden thread of love that connects all beings, because, as Chiara Lubich reminds us ‘on earth everything is in a relationship of love with everything else: each thing with each thing. But we need to be Love in order to find the golden thread of love between beings’[4]. In renewing the Focolare Movement’s concrete commitment to an ecological conversion where – I must say – our young people are in the forefront, I wish for all of you that these days of reflection mark an important stage toward a renewed communion in action, prayer, and the search for new ways to care for creation and thus ensure a future of peace and fraternity for all.

[1] Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch. (2020). ‘Message for World Day of Creation’. Vatican News, September 01, 2020. (Accessed on 20/11/2021).

[2] Laudato Si, 14

[3] Laudato Si’ 12

[4] Lubich, C., 1997a, Scritti spirituali /1, Città Nuova, Rome.