Pat. Bartholomew: 2011 Patriarchal Proclamation for Pascha

+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By the Mercy of God
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church Grace, Peace and Mercy
From the Savior Christ Risen in Glory

Beloved children in the Lord,Once again, in a spirit of joy and peace, we address you with the delightful and hopeful greeting: “Christ is Risen!”

The occurrences and events of our time may not seem to justify the exultation of our greeting. The natural destruction caused by seismic tremors and oceanic swells, together with the lurking devastation from possible nuclear explosion, as well as the human sacrifices resulting from military conflict and terrorist action, reveal our world to be in horrible torment and anguish from the pressure of the natural and spiritual forces of evil.

Nevertheless, the Resurrection of Christ is indeed real and grants to faithful Christians the certainty – and to all humanity the possibility – of transcending the adverse consequences of natural calamity and spiritual perversity.

Nature rebels when the arrogant human mind endeavors to tame its boundless forces endowed by the Creator it its seemingly insignificant and inactive elements. In considering from a spiritual perspective the grievous natural phenomena that plague our planet repeatedly and successively in recent times, we appreciate and acknowledge the belief that these are inseparable from the spiritual and ethical deviation of humanity. The signs of this deviation – such as greed, avarice, and an insatiable desire for material wealth, alongside an indifference toward the poverty endured by so many as a result of the imbalanced affluence of the few – may not be clearly related to the natural occurrences in the eyes of scientists. Yet, for someone examining the matter spiritually, sin disturbs the harmony of spiritual and natural relations alike. For, there is a mystical connection between moral and natural evil; if we wish to be liberated from the latter, we must reject the former.

Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the new Adam and God, constitutes the model for the beneficial influence of a saint on the natural world. For Christ healed physical and spiritual illness, granting comfort and healing to all people, while at the same time bringing calm and peace to stormy seas, multiplying five loaves of bread to feed the five thousand, thereby combining the reconciliation of spiritual and natural harmony. If we want to exert a positive impact on the current negative natural and political conditions of our world, then we have no other alternative than faith in the Risen Christ and fulfillment of his saving commandments.

Christ has risen and given new life to the perfect ethos of humankind, which had darkened this ethos. Christ became the first-born and pioneer of the regeneration of the world and the whole of creation. The message of the Resurrection is not empty of meaning for the quality of human life and the balanced function of nature. As we completely and profoundly experience the Resurrection of Christ in the depth our heart, our existence shall favorably impact upon all humanity and the natural world. The natural sciences may not yet fully have underlined the relationship between the regeneration of humanity and the renewal of creation, but the experience of the saints – which should be the aim our own experience – confirms the experientially proven fact that, indeed, a person reborn in Christ restores the harmony of the natural world disturbed by sin. In Christ, the saint can move mountains for the good of the world, while the sinful person, who opposes the ways of God, can shake the earth and raise destructive waves.

Let us approach the sanctity of the Risen Christ in order, through His grace, to calm the natural and moral waves that trouble our world today.

May the grace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, beloved children in the Lord. Amen. 

Holy Pascha 2011
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
Fervent supplicant for all
before the Risen Christ


  1. Can someone help me with this quote?

    Yet, for someone examining the matter spiritually, sin disturbs the harmony of spiritual and natural relations alike. For, there is a mystical connection between moral and natural evil; if we wish to be liberated from the latter, we must reject the former.

    Is the EP saying that things like earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes etc are a result of our sinful choices? Did man’s sin cause the Japanese earthquake?

    • “Did man’s sin cause the Japanese earthquake?” Man’s sin is at the root of all corruption, so yes, man’s sin caused the “Japanese” earthquake. And all other quakes (& disasters) before it & those yet to come. Did any particular sin, by any particular man, or nation, or group, or religion, cause this particular natural disaster? Of course. And, of course, of course not.

      Which sin causes me to reject God as Lord to place myself in His stead? Only my first one….

    • As I understand it, His All Holiness is saying that we are confronted with widespread problems in the natural/physical world, yet the foundation of their good order depends upon our spiritual health. (Conversely, sin is the ultimate source of nature’s distress.) If so, it strikes me as a thoroughly patristic view of Adam’s/humanity’s calling as stewards of creation. Indeed, this, I believe this is Orthodoxy’s true answer to concerns about the environment. St. Paul said as much:

      For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope 21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. 23 And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

      The solution is sanctity. Or, in the oft-quoted words of St. Seraphim: “Acquire the spirit of peace and thousands around you will be saved.” So far as we become temples of the Holy Spirit, the grace and will of God will be conveyed to all and everything around us – including nature . . . as was evident in St. Seraphim’s own life.
      Kallo Pascha.

    • Andew, Being careful when thinking about ‘natural disasters’ what makes them ‘disastrous’ is not that they occur, it’s that we don’t avoid death by dealing with it properly or predict it in time to clear out of the way. Ignorance is the issue, it’s us.

      The idea that all things we don’t like that happen in the natural world are caused by some unspecified combination of unspecified misdoing.. well there’s just a little too much hubris in that. It’s no different than giving the dog credit for making the moon go away by barking at it.

  2. George Patsourakos :

    Andrew, I think that what Patriarch Bartholomew means in his statement, “If we wish to be liberated from natural evil, we must reject moral evil” is that there is a mystical correlation between man’s inhumanity to man and the occurrence of natural disasters. In other words, the more evil man becomes, the more likely there will be natural disasters. This is not a new idea. You may recall that the popular televangelist Pat Robertson — more than a year ago — blamed the mega-earthquake that killed thousands of people in Haiti on the lack of worship by Haitians. Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, etc., then, may be considered a “wakeup call” from God for human beings to be nicer to each other, and to live a better spiritual life, in order to prevent these natural disasters from occurring.

    • I remain very skeptical about this connection between moral and natual evil and what it says both about man and about God. I also believe the “Pat Robertson” viewpoint to be completely out of bounds in an Orthodox discussion of this question. I am hoping that the many serious minds on this blog can revisit this discussion after Pascha when we can devote more time to these very robust questions.

  3. George Patsourakos :

    On the opposite side of Patriarch Bartholomew’s statement that natural disasters may be sparked by moral evil, is a case in Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry yesterday proclaimed three days of prayer (April 22 to April 24, 2011) for rain in the state of Texas, in order for God to help to extinguish a major wildfire.

    You can read about the Texas situation by visiting my blog at where it appears on the first page under the title “Texas Gov. Perry Declares Prayer Days for Rain; Wildfires Threaten Thousands of Homes in Texas.”


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