Bartholomew I to Japan and the World: Enough Nuclear Energy

Source: Asia News | NAT da Polis

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – A vibrant and heartfelt appeal to States to abandon the use of nuclear energy: this is the message sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Japanese people to express the solidarity of the Orthodox world. The message was sent on the first Sunday of Lent, also called the Sunday of Orthodoxy, on the anniversary of the restoration of the veneration of icons, which occurred in 843, as an expression of respect towards the people they represent.

“With a heart heavy with pain – Bartholomew starts – all humanity is witnessing the tragedy that has struck the land of Japan, causing the death of many of our brothers and sisters. Prayers are being lifted from all corners of the earth as a sign of solidarity with our Japanese brethren”.

The disaster caused by the terrible earthquake and tsunami – the message continues – has been worsened by the nightmare of radioactive contamination due to the explosion of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. “With regard to the terrible earthquake-related disaster, human reason can do nothing, because the causes are outside its scope,” writes Bartholomew. “On the contrary – he adds – there is a reason for the explosion at the nuclear reactor. And with all due respect for the human face of scientific knowledge of its potential use for the production of nuclear energy to meet the needs of humanity, thus threatening its survival, we dare to propose the use of scientific knowledge for the production of alternative energy sources, the so-called ‘green’ energy, that isfriendly to the environment and thus for humanity. ”

Bartholomew points out that “our Creator has given us the sun, wind, waves, from which energy can be extracted for our needs. An ecological science has the ability to invent tools for the production of renewable energy that is not harmful. Why, then, spread the use of energy production that is so dangerous to the integrity of the human race? Is it not an insult and a provocation of nature, which in turn then turns her back on human beings?”. “From this our humble home, along with our prayers for the sorely tried people of the Land of the Rising Sun, we take the opportunity to make an appeal to States to reconsider their policy on nuclear energy” says Bartholomew I.

In short a brave and provocative message, and a decided position, in line with the ecological battle undertaken by the patriarchate of Constantinople since 1989, which with its various initiatives is at the forefront in the Christian world for ecological conception of creation.


  1. George Patsourakos :

    I agree with Patriarch Bartholomew that Japan — and indeed the entire world __ must abandon the use of nuclear energy. I remember the leakage from a nuclear center in Chernobyl, Ukraine about 25 years ago, which resulted in the deaths and permanent illness of hundreds of Ukrainians. Nuclear energy is just not worth the life-threatening risks that it can lead to.

    • The Chernobyl reactor was an extremely faulty reactor. It was cooled by only water, and used graphite to moderate the neutrons in the fission reaction. This meant that with a loss of water, the fission reaction at Chernobyl increased uncontrollably. It basically became a dirty bomb.

      The Chernobyl design was only possible in the Soviet system. Nobody uses reactors like that anymore, and the Japanese create especially hardened and contained reactors.

      Stop the fear mongering.

  2. Using such a terrible tragedy and disaster to advance a political agenda is disgusting and beyond contempt. Shame on the Patriarch for seeing in this catastrophe an opportunity to “score points” with the radical environmentalist crowd and promote his “green patriarch” image.

    • Chris, I agree 100%. The Green Patriarch isn’t really “Green” at all. He is the Poverty Patriarch because the policies he endorses such as this call end to Nuclear Energy will result in the spread of poverty around the world. There is no utopia. There is no world without risk. 20.2% of electricity in the USA is produced by Nuclear Energy. How do you replace this?

      Btw, how many Mercury filled CFL lightbulbs broke during the Earthquake? Should we ban those too?

    • This is obviously anti-nuclear activism, totally disconnected from the issues that currently affect people’s lives in Japan and focused on abstract global problems and hypotheticals. In Japan hundreds of thousands people are homeless and millions without food, water, power or heating in near-freezing temperatures.

  3. This is silly, and makes me cringe with embarrassment.

    The Japanese had prepared their reactors for the strongest earthquake they could reasonably expect – an 8.2 quake. And these reactors are so heavily contained that even if they melt down, there won’t be any significant release of radiation into the atmosphere.

    Japan is an example of how nuclear power can be done correctly. They build extremely well-engineered power plants on a very seismically active island, and even in a worst case scenario like this quake there still won’t be any significant problems.

    But that doesn’t prevent certain groups from taking advantage of the current hysteria to further their own agenda. And it’s very disappointing that His All Holiness seems to believe in the fantasy of constant technological progress that will allow us to come to some utopia of risk-free energy.

    This explains very well why the reactors will remain contained.

  4. In the face of praise of our Patriarch from various quarters for this “brave” statement, dare I state that this Greek Orthodox layman is more than a little disappointed and confused?

    The issue that hits me with seismic force in this tragedy is that of human suffering – of the sudden and violent deaths of many thousands of innocent human beings at the mercy of the winds and waves which are controlled by our loving and merciful God. Certainly this is not an issue for me alone – it is probably the most fundamental and powerful weapon atheists use in their polemics against Christian faith. On this enigma – at least in this statement (which will get all the international media attention) – our Patriarch is basically AWOL. ”Dude, bummer, can’t help you there…”

    Yet though God’s actions in nature are apparently unfathomable here, Bartholomew seems to be saying that the threat of reactor meltdowns is quite another thing. Huh? Who is this personified “nature” who is capable of being insulted and provoked, and who turns “her” back on human beings? I’m sure I’ve never encountered her in Orthodox Christianity. Is our God not equally capable of controlling outcomes in the world of technology – indeed, in ANY aspect of His creation?

    It sounds to me as if our Patriarch is not so brave after all, perhaps even trying to dissemble a bit. We “insiders” in Orthodoxy are to understand that God actually HAS punished thousands of innocent people for their insolence in daring not to be “green”. (wink, wink) But for the rest of the world, let’s just vaguely attribute the punishment to – what? – nature? Gaia? That will resonate well with the European new agers, I suppose. If he were to pin this overtly on God, Bartholomew would sound too much like an American fundamentalist preacher, and that would be jarringly dissonant with his carefully-constructed image of a wise old green Dumbledore, with his archaic but harmless spirituality.

    Frankly, this is not remotely the episcopal comfort and teaching I had hoped to hear. Not that what I hope for is what is best for me. But I also doubt that this will ease the misery and recovery of our beloved brothers and sisters in Japan at this time of great tragedy. As well-timed as this sound bite might be for maximum press coverage, and for its resonance with the general green “told you so” anti-nuclear pile-on, this is no time to wag the finger at a stricken nation for their embrace of what was presented to them as reasonable, clean energy. Current solar/wind/wave energy technologies are nowhere near adequate for Japan’s huge population and available natural resources.

  5. Scott Pennington :

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    And from John Stossel:

    Apparently, the problem with nuclear reactors isn’t that they’re inherently dangerous, it’s that private investors won’t put up the money for them without extensive government guarantees on the investment. It seems that banks don’t think that nuclear power plants are a profitable investment.

  6. If we are going to abandon Nuclear, as HAH suggests, then they’d better start drilling in the USA again right now.

    Truth is alternative ‘fuels’ could not handle a sliver of a fraction of the energy required just to heat our homes in the spring, let alone transport food and medicine to our stores.

    I would love to live without nuclear power, but I’d rather not let millions die and starve instead.

    • The wise counsel of Elder Paisios might be of help.

      Father Paisios was once asked about the end of times and the difficulty Christians who refuse to use credit cards (or whatever will be in use) stamped with the mark of satan, will encounter concerning food.

      He replied that for Christians used to a little bread and and a couple of olives there will be no problem. There will be a problem though for those Christians who are used to having 5 different types of cheeses on their table when they dine.

      Some claim that millions of people live good and faithful Christian lives without ever fasting. Fasting requires reasonable precautions and preparation.

  7. I would also like to point out the right now the people of Japan are giving a brave and heroic example to the world about humility and order in the face of suffering. Is there rioting or looting in Japan? The resolve and humility shown is a Gospel lesson beyond words and the ultimate example for all of during this Lenten season.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Andrew, also please notice that there was no looting at all in Japan. The stoic courage of these people is a blessing to all mankind. As for using this tragedy to push an ideological point, I am most saddened.

  8. I think we can acknowledge the “truth” in the EP+ statments with regards to being conservative and minimalist. And yes, their is perhaps some “arrogance” in how we deal with the environment. But, I think this is a far cry in how he has overtaken this campaign as a means to garner national attention. It would also be a fair analysis to say that it is also not prudent to run on the neo-conservative campaign in response. We are faced with a serious need of discernment – we need to be vigilant.

    This is an example of how NOT to spread the faith.

    • Scott Pennington :


      I’m not even sure it’s about spreading the “faith” for the Phanar. I have always wondered if there was not a pure financial and political calculation behind: The Phanar’s “Green-ness” and the RCC’s and the OCA’s opposition to the death penalty. Allow me to explain.

      Think of the Church, for a moment, as a business, a business built on profit. Now, if you take a look at America and Western Europe, you’ll notice a culture war going on – – moreso here than in Europe. So, you might surmise, there are both conservatives and liberals in our church. Convert parishes tend to be more morally conservative than that of predominantly cradle parishes, but nonetheless, on the whole, unfortunately, the variety of opinion in the church reflects that of the general public.

      So the question becomes, “How do we preserve and expand market share?”. Well, you try to give the people what they want. “Find out what’s selling and then make sure you have truckloads of it.” as my father used to say.

      Now, moral conservatism (albeit a very moderate form) is in vogue among a broad swath of the American public, perhaps 30% or so. And Orthodoxy is inherently quite conservative (moreso than perhaps some Americans would find immediately appealing, hence modernist Orthodoxy, a compromise to accomodate American sensibilities). But what about the rest of the potential customers? Can’t let them get away.

      Ah!!!! Perhaps there are things in liberal thinking we can incorporate into Orthodoxy (or Roman Catholicism) which would draw them in. We have pretty icons and moving music. It’s the conservatism that turns some off so perhaps we can exhibit some liberalism too. Then they can soothe their consciences with the notion that, “the Orthodox (or the RCC) are good about some things and the rest we can ‘work on’ (a/k/a, ‘change the church from within’)”.

      This, I suspect, is the mentality that is animating this behavior in the Phanar, the OCA and in the RCC. Crass commercialism.


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